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Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville - 2012 US Juvenile Ice Dance Champions

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Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville - 2012 US Juvenile Ice Dance Champions

Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville - 2012 US Juvenile Ice Dance Champions

Photo Courtesy Barry Gropman

Eliana Lauryn Gropman:

Parents: Andrea and Barry Gropman

Grandparents: Marlene and Leon Saperstein

Eliana started in a learn-to-skate program in her county when she was five years old because her parents wanted her to feel comfortable on the ice in case she was invited to skating parties, and because her mother never learned to skate as a child and felt it was important. Eliana soon fell in love with skating, but with ice dancing in particular, because it combined her interests and talents in gymnastics, ballet, and musical theater. One of her county skating coaches, Dmytri Ilin, asked her to try out for the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA), and the rest is history. Eliana skated in the academy without a partner for about a year before she and Ian were matched up.

Ian Scott Somerville:

Parents: Catherine and Scott Somerville; Sister Lauren (age 12 - Synchro skater)

Grandparents: Candy and Jack Somerville

Pets: two crazy Wheaton Terriers - Hops and Cole

Ian began skating when he was around three on a little frozen puddle in his backyard, on hockey skates. Ian’s first actual skating rink was at the Chevy Chase Club, an outdoor rink in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Ian decided that figure skates were more comfortable and easier (his first pair of white skates belonged to older sister Lauren). Ian competed in freestyle at the beginner level for two years, with such themes at Scooby Doo and Born To Be Wild. One of the judges told Ian about a group of kids who worked with some great coaches where there were other boys – WISA. Ian was the only freestyle boy at his rink. Ian joined WISA, and began skating as an ice dancer. Ian was paired up with Eliana shortly thereafter.

Eliana and Ian’s Outstanding Accomplishments:

In their first season skating together, Eliana and Ian won the pre-juvenile ice dance competition at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships in 2009. They have medaled in every competition that they have entered. This season, their first in Juvenile, they won Gold Medals at both the Eastern Sectional Championships and the US Junior National Championships, and they received USFSA Special Achievement pins for their free dance performances at sectionals and nationals.

How Eliana and Ian Became an Ice Dance Team:

One day, a new boy (Ian) came to try out for WISA and after trying out with one or two of the other girls, the two were put together, and immediately looked well matched and in sync. They have competed together as a team for two seasons. Eliana was eight years old, and Ian was nine years old when they first started skating together.

Competition History:

2009 -- PRE-JUVENILE SEASON:
  • Cherry Blossom Invitational: Silver {Compulsory Dances}
  • Edward G. Picken PRO-AM Dance Classic: Gold {Compulsory Dances}
  • Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships: Gold {Compulsory Dances}
  • Challenge Cup: Gold {Compulsory Dances}
  • South Atlantic Regional Championships, Non-Qualifying: Silver {Compulsory Dances}

2010 -- Did not compete – Ian and his family spent nine months in France

2011 -- JUVENILE SEASON:

  • Cherry Blossom Invitational: Gold {Pattern Dances}; Did Not Compete Free Dance
  • Edward G. Picken PRO-AM Dance Classic: Gold {Pattern Dances}; Did Not Compete Free Dance
  • Chesapeake Open: Gold {Pattern Dances}; Bronze {Free Dance}
  • Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships: Silver {Pattern Dances}; Silver {Free Dance}
  • Challenge Cup: Pewter {Pattern Dances}; Gold {Free Dance}
  • 2012 Eastern Sectional Championships: Gold [combined medal - pattern & free dances]
  • 2012 US Junior National Championships: Gold [combined medal - pattern & free dances]

Training:

Eliana and Ian train three to four hours a day, six days a week, with WISA in Wheaton and Rockville, MD, and are members of the Washington Figure Skating Club. Their coaches are former Russian and Ukranian Ice Dance Champions, Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, and Dmytri Ilin. They also train with specialty coaches who work with them on spins (Marat Akbarov), choreography (Alexandru “Sasha” Glusacov), and other aspects of skating performance (Ramil Sarkulov). Their off-ice coaches include Sasha for ballet, and Irina Sarukanyan for ballroom. The WISA program trains only ice dancers, and relies on the primary and specialty coaches. Freestyle is used to enhance aspects of ice dance, but all the children in WISA train exclusively in Ice Dance.

Education:

Eliana attends a private Jewish day school in Washington, D.C. She enjoys creative writing. Ian attends the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. in a dual French and English curriculum. He attended school in France during part of the 2010 season, and trained with a French Skating Academy in Lyon, France.

How the "Magic" Of Winning Junior Nationals Came About:

Both children worked really hard this year, and were especially inspired by an afternoon spent with Tanith Belbin and Charlie White after participating in a dance clinic with them over the summer in Maryland. The kids worked very hard on their free dance. Their coaches kept them focused. It was a goal they set their sights on and they took advantage of the practices and coaches corrections to improve their free dance elements.

Statement from kids or parents on what winning at JNs felt like:

Both kids said that winning at Junior Nationals felt great!

Favorite Dance Skating Moves:

Eliana – Lifts & Spins
Ian – Spread Eagles & Backwards Shoot-the-duck

Other Interests:

Eliana enjoys reading and creative writing, as well as acting.
Ian enjoys tennis, soccer, football; basically anything with a ball.

Challenges:

The main challenge both kids face is balancing their schoolwork with all the time they spend on and off the ice focused on their skating.

Family:

Eliana was born in Washington, D.C. Her mother and father both grew up in Massachusetts and moved to the Washington, D.C. area about 15 years ago for her mother’s medical training. Eliana’s mother is a Child Neurologist and Geneticist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Her father is a Quality Assurance Manager for a Maryland software company. Eliana is an only child.

Ian was born in Washington, D.C., along with his sister, and both parents, all at the same hospital. Ian’s mother owns her own real estate appraisal business. His father works as a county tax assessor, and Ian’s sister, Lauren, is a 7th grader and is part of a local competitive synchronized skating team, D.C. Edge.

Goals:

The team is looking forward to moving up to the intermediate level next season, and hopes to win many more ice dance events, and eventually to compete internationally representing the US at Junior Grand Prix, Youth Olympic, and Olympic events.

In the future, Eliana would like to be either a doctor or a trial lawyer, because she likes to write and give speeches. Ian wants to be a skating judge when he grows up, because he loves skating so much.

A Note from Eliana and Ian:

We would like to thank our coaches and our WISA training mates who push us to try our hardest, stay focused, and to do our best. We have the best coaches and training environment one could hope for.

A Message from Eliana and Ian’s Parents:

We are proud of our children and fortunate to be able to provide this opportunity for them. We would like to thank all the coaches and the WISA teammates and families who provide a nice environment for their training. We would like to thank all past and present US ice dance teams for inspiring our children, and for all you do for the sport. We would like to thank US Figure Skating for providing dance camps and opportunities to expose young children to the beauty of ice dance.
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