Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers: "We like to get the crowd going"
By Reut Golinsky
Canadian pair Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers have skated together
since 2005. Last season they had a breakthrough on the international
arena by winning their first bronze medal at Skate Canada, and then
finishing third at Four Continents. But it probably wasn't their
placement there that was the most memorable thing for the skating fans,
but the moment when Rudi offered his own skate to his friend and rival,
American pair skater Mark Ladwig, whose boot heel broke during the short
program. It was only thanks to that, that Ladwig and Evora could return to the ice and finish their program within the allowed time.
About their new programs, what it is like to be a "clockwise skater" and
more in our chat with them at the Nebelhorn Trophy, where they began
Looking back, how would you sum up the last season?
Rudi: We had a really good season. Third was "our" placement last
season: we were third at Nationals, third at Four Continents and then
third at Skate Canada as well. So this year we are looking to improve
Still, I guess you were upset you couldn't go to Worlds.
It was bitter sweet, we were excited to medal at Nationals, but to be
so close to making the World's team was obviously a disappointment. We
just took that in stride and will use it as motivation this year.
The competition in pairs in Canada is pretty tough, and now even
tougher with the new pair Jessica Dubé/Sébastien Wolfe. What do you
think might help you win over them?
Paige: I think we are a very personable team, we are really entertaining and fun to watch. And we like to get the crowd going. I think that's something that plays for us, that's on our side.
Rudi: Paige and I have always been technical skaters, technically strong, so we really try to play up in-between, at the transitions, and really work for the crowd.
Is this something which also works with the judges?
Paige: Yeah, we like to get people to enjoy our skating, and
judges are people too. I mean judges are obviously the most important
part for us personally; they are the people we are trying to impress.
But we take the crowd into consideration as well. The judges can also
pick up the energy from the crowd, right? The crowd is enjoying it, the
judges are going to enjoy it more, and we enjoy it more.
I agree that your short program is really entertaining. Who brings in the ideas for your programs?
Paige: Each year as we've put the short program together, we've
wanted to find a light hearted, entertaining piece of music that Rudi
and I can really play to. And the past two years Carol Lane and Juris
Razguliaevs (coaches of the Canadian ice dancers Ralph/Hill and former coaches of Crone/Poirier - ed) choreographed it for us. And this year they made a really good program for us.
How much are you involved in the process of creation?
They bring a lot of the technical steps and choreography. They gave us
music they thought we would like, and we basically took it from there.
We really have a lot of trust in them, we've known them for a couple of
years, so they know our personalities and they know how we go about our
Paige: And then they lay out the program for us, but as we train
we change something here, add something there, feel something more
our characters in the program are starting to build.
Is there a story behind your characters?
Paige: In the short program Rudi is awaking me from the dead. I
don't really know what is going on and then he kind of teaches me how to
Rudi: ... a ghoul.
Paige: Someone who is like a spook, a spooky ghost who likes having fun with people and playing tricks on them and what not.
Rudi: Yeah, that's kind of the thing we try to portray.
What about the long program?
Paige: It's been a tougher program for us to put a name on and a feeling into, we are still developing it. It's set in medieval time with knights, three musketeers...
Right, "D'Artagnan" is your music...
Paige: Yes, "D'Artagnan", "Man in the Iron Mask" and "Nouvelle
France". Right now we are just trying to have this elegant, regal
feeling, but as the year progresses we hope to put more character into
Do you have any other crazy ideas that you want to skate to someday?
Paige: Not really, no. We play it year by year, each year we see what we want our programs to do for us.
Rudi: And how we want our programs to develop us as skaters.
Paige: For example, this year, when we chose this long program,
we did it specifically because it was outside of our level of comfort.
Neither one of us is comfortable skating elegantly nor regally, so we
chose that to hopefully make us better. Right now it's still not as
comfortable for us as our short program obviously is, we're still
learning and coming into it, but during the year I hope it will look
Personally, I really love programs that have a story, but I also
think it's more complicated to stick to that story when something goes
wrong technically. Do you agree?
Paige: Yes and no. I think the toughest thing with figure skating
is having a program and continuing it, even though you make mistakes.
That's one of the things Rudi and I are trying to do: if you make a
mistake, you just let it happen, you move on and pick up exactly as if
nothing had happened. The show must go on.
Rudi: I like to think if a mistake is made, but that element was
perfectly choreographed into a transition right afterwards, you'd once
again have an emotion. Then if you miss an element, right away you need
to step into that next element being "this is what I'm doing with my
face, this is what I'm doing with my emotions" and try to portray
emotions right off the bat, so that you don't lose that character, that
You are both clockwise skaters.
Rudi: Really? (laughs)
Forgive my curiosity, but I never had a chance to ask about it; does this mean you're both left handed?
Rudi: I'm left handed, Paige is not. I don't think there is a
connection. But just like some people are left handed and some are right
handed, some people turn to the right, and some people turn to the
For the pair doing all the elements in the opposite direction, it must be a bit complicated, like for your choreographers.
Paige: They sometimes go "Oh... oh... no, you go this way". But
they get the hang of it pretty quickly, if they don't catch themselves
then we catch it, it's really not an obstacle.
Rudi: When we grew up, a lot of the elements were taught this way
and we had to reverse it, the coach said: "Your left hand goes with
that", so I was: "OK, my right hand...". It's just more natural for us.
It's just whatever is comfortable; it's comfortable for us to do it this
way, so it's just the way we go.
Paige: It's like with writing, if you're right handed you just know it, same with skating.
Paige, your ISU profile mentions that you're learning kinesiology,
the formal definition of which is "the scientific study of human
Paige: Yeah, it's about muscles, how muscles work. I haven't graduated; I'm just taking a few classes at the university.
Is this somehow connected to figure skating?
Paige: There is definitely a relation to it. My goal at the end
of it is sport's medicine or physiotherapy. What I'm taking doesn't have
any direct reference to figure skating, but has references to sport and physical activity, so in that sense a lot of the things cross over.
Rudi, let's talk about what you did at Four Continents. All agreed that you deserved a "Fair play" medal for it.
Rudi: Actually, I was honoured by the US Skating Federation. They
flew me to Chicago for their Governing Council meeting where Mark
presented me with the US Sportsmanship Award. That was a really great
thing, my Mom got to go with me to Chicago. Basically all the higher ups
of the US skating federation were there, we got to shake some hands. It
was a great honour, but I feel that Mark would have done the same for
me, so it's not really a big thing.
It might be not a big thing, but it doesn't happen often that
someone experiencing boot problems during a program gets an offer like
Mark did. I feel there was something fair in the fact that you got
bronze in that competition.
Rudi: Well, I like to think that it was because of how we skated. (laughs)
When it comes to a competition, we all put a lot of work into it and
you want everybody to have the same opportunity. So if someone's boot
breaks, who are we to deny them the opportunity to go out there and do
Ok, one last question: try to describe each other in three words.
Paige: He is very-very kind and thoughtful. He is funny. And I want to say energetic.
Rudi: Commanding, she is definitely commanding in a good way, she takes charge in everything. (Paige prompting: Stubborn) Stubborn. Beautiful. And organized. Funny...
Paige: Three words, Rudi!
Rudi: Oh, I was just going to keep talking about you, all nice things. Courageous, she is fearless.
Paige: And I want to add that he is strong!
Those are great combinations of qualities in a pair; he is strong
and she is fearless! Thank you for your time, guys, and good luck this
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