Spotlight on Trina Pratt and Todd Gilles
by Karen F.
An Unseen Skaters special. January 14, 2005.
Coached by Patti Gottwein and Christopher Dean, Junior Ice Dancers Trina Pratt and Todd Gilles, both 18, have been skating together for four seasons. In their fourth trip to Nationals, (6th, Novice, 2002; 1st Novice, 2003; and 3rd, Junior, 2004), they will be skating to programs choreographed by Christopher Dean and Tom Dickson. After a strong season on the Junior Grand Prix, where they won bronze medals in Hungary and
China, they topped off the autumn by winning Midwestern Sectionals.
When and how did you begin skating? When and why did you start ice dancing?
Todd: I started skating when I was 4 when my mom took me to the ice rink for learn to skate lessons.
Trina: My mom took my brother and me to the Pueblo Ice Arena Christmas Show. She thought it was so cute, so she decided to put my brother and me in it. I started ice dancing to improve my free skating skills.
What has been the most memorable moment in your skating career so far?
Trina & Todd: Watching our flag go up for our country when we placed third in Hungary.
What has been the biggest challenge or disappointment that you have overcome in your skating career?
Trina & Todd : Analyzing our results at Mids last year and looking past the fact that we'd have to improve greatly to medal at nationals.
Do you have a funny or embarrassing moment in skating that you're willing to share?
Trina & Todd : We walked into the draw party room in Hungary thinking we were on time, and as we waltzed in they called our names and we just walked on up to the stage. We were actually fifteen minutes late, and were chastised greatly for it.
How long have you been working with Patti Gottwein & Christopher Dean, and how would you describe their respective coaching styles or philosophies?
Trina & Todd : Four competitive seasons with Patti, and three seasons with Chris. Patti works with us everyday, and Chris gets us only a few times a week, so their philosophies on technique are basically the same, but Patti is more of a "head coach", meaning she works us harder everyday, while Chris works on more attention to detail.
How did you decide to skate to Romeo + Juliet [1996 film soundtrack] for your free dance this season?
Trina: I heard [2004 U.S. Junior pair silver medallists] Ben Okolski and Brooke Castile skate to it last season and I fell in love with it. Then Tom [Dickson] came in one day with the music and I was all for it.
Todd: I didn't really like it at first, but it grew on me, and now I like the program a lot.
There’s some spoken Shakespearean dialog as part of the program, which adds an interesting layer of texture of the music. Who decided to cut the music that way, and what did you think when you first heard it?
Trina & Todd : Tom decided to do that and it was a good idea. It's something creative that helps the audience better understand the meaning and feeling of Romeo and Juliet.
Can you describe the choreographic process involved in working with Christopher Dean on your OD?
Trina & Todd : Well, this year and last year he told us to find a bunch of music that fit the rhythms, and while we looked for the music he started messing around with choreography that would fit the potential music. Then we would bring all the music that we found to him and decide on what we wanted to skate to. Then we pieced the program together like a puzzle.
Can you describe the choreographic process involved in working with Tom Dickson on your FD?
Trina & Todd : Tom usually brings in several music ideas and tries out some choreography with us, and if it fits then we skate to it. So he usually has an idea for a program before we start working with him. Tom choreographs in a way to make you get the feeling of the rhythm, then he puts the steps to the music.
Does this mean you do some improvising with him and the music first?
Trina & Todd : Yes, basically.
Do your programs change much over the course of the season?
Trina & Todd : We think our free dance has entirely changed, but the O.D., not so much. Besides we have a lot more freedom on the free dance.
You competed under the new Code of Points system on the Junior Grand Prix. What was that like? Were there any changes you made to your programs, or your process of choreographing your programs because of the new system (and if so, what were they?)
Trina & Todd : Tom and Chris both thought the system was a little different and they didn't really want to work with it at first, but they eventually realized that they had to, so we started changing our lifts and footwork sequences to get higher levels on them.
Will you be making any significant changes in your programs for Nationals?
Trina & Todd : Yes, on our O.D. straightline [footwork], and free dance diagonal [footwork].
In what ways have you improved as a team since last year?
Trina & Todd : With more experience and being together as a team, for four seasons and going, we know the other person better, helping our overall skating. Also our skating skills have improved because we've been challenged by our choreography.
Has there been one competition in which you performed well that helped build your confidence this season? If yes, which one and please explain why.
Trina & Todd : Yes, in China we skated our best free dance yet this season; that showed that we have the skills to make the program even better.
How would you assess/describe/compare your performances at Midwestern Sectionals? (And is there a story about the free dance costumes you wore at Mids?)
Trina & Todd : We didn't skate the best could have, but overall we did okay. Trina forgot her costume, so she had to wear the practice outfit.
What are your goals for Nationals in Portland? Long term skating goals?
Trina & Todd : We want to do our programs beautifully, and to the best of our ability. We hope to earn a spot on the 2005 Junior World Team, and our long-term goals include maybe someday making the U.S. Olympic Team.
What do you consider to be the strongest and weakest aspects of your skating?
Trina & Todd : Our strongest would be that we have fun when we skate, so we hope to stay together for a long time. I wouldn't say we have any huge weaknesses, because when we realize we have one, we try to fix it as soon as possible.
What are your goals beyond skating?
Trina: Learn how to cook food and make costumes.
Todd: Become rich and start my own band.
What do you like to do for fun away from the ice? What are some of your hobbies and interests? According to your website, Todd is in a band: what kind of music do you play?
Trina - I like to read and think about skating to different types of music.
Todd - I like to play guitar, and I am in a band. We play more of a groove, punk style of music. If you were to mix, MarsVolta/Incubus/At The Drive In/ and Rage Against the Machine, I'd say we sound like that. More complicated music than typical pop-punk.
You both attend school/college, right? How difficult is it to balance skating and your education?
Trina: It's hard to get up in the morning and go to a place where I am not able to improve my skating (school).
Todd: It's not very hard for me because being in college I have more freedom with my schedule, so I try to do my class schedule around skating.
Todd, it seems like your entire family is involved in skating at some level...can you elaborate more on that? How often are you able to attend your sibling’s competitions?
Todd: Two of my four siblings skate. [Twins] Alexe competed at 2005 Junior Nationals in intermediate ladies, and Piper won intermediate dance with her partner, Tim McKernan. I am able to attend whenever I am not competing myself.
And Trina, your brother used to be your dance partner…does he still skate? Do you have any other siblings involved in athletics?
Trina: Robert doesn't skate anymore, and is on a mission in Brazil. I also have two younger brothers that play football.
There is a photo on your website with you two and John Mayer how did that
come about? Did one of you recognize him on the plane? Which one of you
was the biggest “fangirl” when you saw him?
Todd: I recognized him as we were boarding the plane in Chicago, on our way to New York City for critiques.
Trina: I was probably the biggest "fangirl" because I saw him the day before on MTV, and it's not everyday you see a celebrity.
Critiques on your programs? How did that go? Do you do something like that every season?
Todd: This was the first time Trina and I had ever been to New York City so we went for critiques, but to us it was a small vacation. We had some judges come in and look at some of the changes we had made since Mids and our JGPs, and they seemed to like it. Normally, we get critiqued by a few judges from the Broadmoor SC every year, but we don't usually travel for critiques. Hopefully, we'll get to do that more often!
What do you like the most about skating and ice dancing that motivates you to keep going day in and day out?
Trina: I love the costumes and freedom of expression that ice dancing provides. What motivates me is staying in shape.
Todd: I love it because it is definitely a strong suit for me, and I love all the new friends I've made and will make in the future because of it. I also love ice dancing because it's a way to express myself. I pretty much love all aspects of ice dancing because there's nothing negative that comes from it.
|Date of Birth:
||April 14, 1986
||August 30, 1986
|Place of Birth:
||Iowa City, IA
||Colorado Springs, CO
||Colorado Springs, CO
||Patti Gottwein, Christopher Dean
||Christopher Dean (OD), Tom Dickinson (FD)
Headshot courtesy of Todd Gilles and Trina Pratt. Skating photographs courtesy of and copyright © Michelle Wojdyla. Skate photograph copyright © Dave Amorde. Unless otherwise noted, all content is copyright © 2000-2005 Unseen Skaters. All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce elsewhere without permission.