Ice dancers coaches live dream

By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — The world’s top two ice dance teams started these Olympics by giving their coaches a special opportunity.

The chance to march in the Opening Ceremonies at B.C. Place.

And true to form, Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White split that gesture right down the middle.

Igor Shpilband walked in with the United States. Marina Zoueva marched with the Canadians.

“It was like walking on the moon,” said Shpilband, who coaches out of the Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Mich. “An incredible experience. Frank Carroll (coach of men’s gold medallist Evan Lysacek) and I went and it was the first time the United States allowed coaches to march.”

For Shpilband, it was the realization of a life-long dream. He never had the chance to march in the Olympics as an athlete.

He had trained under 1976 Olympic ice dance gold medallist Lyudmila Pakhomova, who died of cancer at age 40 three years after Shpilband and partner Tatiana Gladkova won the world junior championships under the Soviet Union flag.

Zoueva marched in once before under the Russian banner in 1994 at Lillehammer. She was with her legendary pairs team Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, who won back-to-back Olympic gold medals.

“I’m a Canadian (her son Fedor Andreev skated for Canada) so to walk with the team was a very proud moment for me,” she said. “I pray for a 1-2 finish in the ice dance. That would be a big thing for the sport. No North American team has won gold before.

“One of them will be the first.”

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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