by Anne Calder | On Ice Photographs by Daphne Backman | Off Ice Photographs by Jordan Cowan
In July, IDC caught up with Junior ice dancers Kristina Bland & Matthew Sperry in Lake Placid following their fifth place end on the 2022 Ice Dance Worldwide.
Bland was born in Southfield, Michigan on September 29, 2004. She and former associate Gabriel Francis competed as Juveniles and Intermediates representing the Detroit Skating Membership.
Sperry was born in Falls Church, Virginia on September 1, 2002. He traIned with the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA) first in Rockville and Wheaton, Maryland and extra not too long ago in Leesburg, Virginia. Sperry and associate Zoe Sensenbrenner debuted as juveniles on the 2017 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships.
Each partnerships shared the Juvenile podium with Jenna Hauer & Benjamin Starr on the 2018 U.S. Nationals. On the championships the following yr in Detroit, they confronted off as intermediates.
Sperry and associate then moved as much as Novice whereas Bland & Francis went on to win the intermediate gold medal on the inaugural 2019-2020 Ice Dance Ultimate in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
In 2020, COVID rearranged everybody’s schedules. Competitions had been canceled and ice rinks had been locked down. The 2 groups additionally parted methods. Like a lot of the skaters, Sperry labored on off-ice coaching. Bland turned a gold medalist in ‘strikes within the area’ and dance exams.
“In March 2021, I went to Michigan for a tryout with Kristina,” Sperry mentioned. “We hit it off immediately. We knew one another from earlier than and in addition competed in opposition to one another.”
After skating collectively for under eight months, the group certified for the 2022 US Nationwide Championships in Nashville, Tennessee. They ended the season with an eighth place end.
The couple shared its ideas about their 2022-2023 aggressive applications and Argentine Tango sample.
“Once I began the season, I didn’t just like the Argentine Tango in any respect,” Bland mentioned. “It was my least favourite of the compulsories. Because the season has gone on, I’m type of liking it extra, particularly the primary half. It’s rising on me greater than I believed it will.”
ISU guidelines enable the 2 sample sections to be danced individually or collectively and in any order. Bland & Sperry selected to separate them as the primary and final components of their program with the Twizzles, Midline Step Sequence and Curve Elevate in between.
“I’ve at all times favored the technicality of the important thing factors in all of the sample dances,” Sperry mentioned. “I really like stepping into the specifics of every key level as a result of that’s one thing I take pleasure in engaged on.”
Each had beforehand examined the sample, however neither had competed it till the Chesapeake Open in June.
The Rhythm Dance music is from Cirque du Soleil: Querer (from “Alegria”) by Rene Dupere and Que Viyera (from “Totem).
Sperry famous that Oleg Ouchakov, who works with them on the ice with their lifts, is a former Cirque du Soliel entertainer and truly had used one in every of their Rhythm Dance items in a efficiency.
“The Free Dance is from a number of albums. It’s Center Japanese, Egyptian music,” Bland mentioned.
The precise songs are “Wishful Pondering” by Raul Ferrando feat. Ararat Petrossian, “Unveiled” by Raul Ferrando and “The Feeling Begins” by Peter Gabriel.
The group’s second competitors was the Dallas Open in early July.
“It was not our greatest program, however we made it by way of,” Sperry mentioned. “We simply had two weeks after Chesapeake to get ourselves collectively.”
“Through the time between Dallas and Lake Placid, we labored primarily on our energy and stroking performances,” defined Bland. “We tried to raise expressing and connecting to the music.“Additionally much more consistencies – much more run-throughs – to maintain engaged on the stamina,” Sperry added.
“We’ve skilled on the Novi Ice Area in Michigan from the start,” mentioned Bland. “We work with a number of coaches: Natalia Deller, Igor Shpilband, Adrian Lenda and Oleg Ouchakov.
“Earlier this season, we additionally labored with Randi Sturdy,” Bland mentioned. “That was numerous enjoyable.”
“Our purpose for the season is to skate internationally – to get a Junior Grand Prix task and to skate constantly and develop in our sport,” Bland mentioned.
The duo additionally has private targets.
“I simply graduated from highschool,” Bland mentioned. “I’m heading to the College of Michigan within the fall to main in Political Science and minor in Crime and Justice. Then it will likely be regulation college to develop into a Protection Lawyer. That’s the dream.”
“I simply completed my first yr on the College of Michigan in Mechanical Engineering,” Sperry added. “Plenty of us at Novi are specializing in each college and skating. Everyone knows what it’s like, and we assist one another.”
“Each my dad and mom work in schooling, so they’re very schooling centered,” Bland mentioned. “I’ve an older brother who’s in his second yr of faculty. We’re 18 months aside.”
“Truly each our households are actually into schooling,” Sperry added. “I’ve an older brother too. He’s a scholar on the College of Maryland.”
In mid-August, the group competed on the Onyx Problem in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Of their fourth outing in two months and in entrance of a supportive Wolverine viewers, the twosome received the silver medal with a season excessive 136.73 complete factors.
On August 23, the USFS formally introduced Kristina Bland & Matthew Sperry’s task to their first JGP task in Yerevan, Armenia September 21-24. Unfortunately, the occasion has been canceled.
September 21, 2022: Although initially briefly postponed, the ISU Council formally canceled the Armenian Cup JGP occasion because of the ongoing state of affairs on the Armenian/Azerbaijan border and protesting in Yerevan. The Council determined to re-allocate the rivals’ entries of the cancelled Armenian ISU Junior Grand Prix to the following upcoming three Junior Grand Prix occasions, particularly in Gdansk, Poland on September 28 – October 1, once more in Gdansk, Poland on October 5-8 and eventually in Egna-Neumarkt, Italy on October 12-15, 2022. Bland & Sperry had been re-assigned to the JGP occasion in Gdansk from September 28-October 1.
The companions beforehand shared their ideas on the scheduled Junior Grand Prix worldwide debut in Armenia.
“I’m most wanting ahead to this thrilling new step in my skating profession representing group USA,” Bland mentioned. “Having by no means left the US, aside from Canada, the chance to journey to Armenia and compete is wonderful. I can’t wait to discover Yerevan and immerse myself in a tradition that’s very completely different than my very own.”
“I’m most wanting ahead to the expertise of skating in a global surroundings and representing Workforce USA,” Sperry added. “Having by no means left the U.S., the chance to journey to Armenia and compete for the US is wonderful. I can also’t wait to discover Yerevan and check out the native meals after we end skating.”
All Junior Grand Prix occasions are streamed on the ISU Youtube Channel.