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An Interview With Olympic Ice Dancers Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov

August 12, 2011

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Denis Petukhov and Melissa Gregory

Denis Petukhov and Melissa Gregory

Photo by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images
American ice dancers Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov met through the internet. Melissa was searching for an ice dance partner. When the couple first met, they spoke different languages. The two fell in love quite quickly and were married on February 2, 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gregory and Petukhov competed together in the 2006 Olympics.

The couple spent the summer of 2011 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During that time, they took the time to sit down and chat with About.com's Guide to Figure Skating, Jo Ann Schneider Farris, about their skating, their coaching, and their lives.

Melissa and Denis, when I see the two of you together, I can tell your love for one another is so very strong. How has your marriage strengthened you as skaters, coaches, and performers?

"We are best friends. In everything we do, we seem to be fused together. Our teaching styles are even fused. We've taken the Russian coaching methods and mixed them with dance, body movement, and artistry."

What current projects are you involved in?

"We've done a lot of performing. In 2011, Denis competed in Skating With the Stars. We recently produced and directed an ice show called Proud Nation. We also give seminars on request and coach."

Tell me about the state funded school program in Connecticut that you run?

"We teach a learn to skate program at Trinity College in Connecticut. The program is called Fever on Ice. It is an after school program where underprivileged and inner city youth learn to ice skate. They are also given required homework assignments related to figure skating in math, science, reading, writing, and Olympic history."

With your busy schedule, do you have time for permanent skating students?

"At this time, we do so much traveling, that we haven't wanted to take on regular students. That may change soon. We are considering perhaps settling down eventually. Skaters who attend our seminars sometimes come to us for specialty work. We have many coaching friends who send us their students so that we can help with choreography, stroking, power, and basics. Adults also like to work with us. We live and teach in Connecticut."

What brought you to Colorado during the summer of 2011?

"We enjoy traveling and coaching. This summer, it just seemed like a good idea to come to Colorado Springs. Our partnership began here. It's fun to be back."

Melissa, do you speak Russian?

"I do! We travel to Russia a lot. If I want to speak to my mother-in-law, I have to understand and speak Russian! I think I've done pretty well in that area. I understand everything. Sometimes I can't join in a conversation when everyone talks fast, but yes, I do speak Russian. When we travel to Russia, I pick up a lot and keep getting better at the language."

How did the trio performance, "Fallen Angels," that the two of you did with Johnny Weir come about?

"We were on a plane with Johnny and just talking. We wondered what the three of us could do together. As we chatted, we realized something special was going to happen if we did something as a trio. Denis did most of the choreography for that piece. Our special friendship with Johnny Weir also made the program work."

What are your skating seminars like?

"We tailor the seminars to the needs of a rink or club. Every seminar is a bit different. Our goal for each seminar is to inspire young skaters and adults. We focus on skating skills, artistry, ice dancing, and footwork."

Tell me about Olympian Uncut, your YouTube channel.

"We originally set up the channel to include instructional videos, since skaters of all ages really like to see ice skating lessons online. The channel includes those types of videos, but also includes clips of our skating and of the shows we produce."

How has your Olympic experience molded you?

"Competing in the Olympics was a major highlight in our lives, of course. Those two weeks we will never forget. Getting to the Olympics is and was such a high, that what to do after has been a challenge, but yet we are constantly trying to improve and evolve. We continue to try new things.

We've wanted to pass the work ethic we've gained from the Olympic experience on to all people we teach or touch. We believe that everyone should take part in a sport. Dedication to something is a good life lesson and we wish to pass that message on."

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