Attending to Know: Vanessa Pham & Jonathan Rogers

by Anne Calder | Images by Daphne Backman

Vanessa Pham & Jonathan Rogers are the 2022 U.S. Nationwide Junior pewter medalists. They dwell and practice in Houston, Texas, which isn’t often called a hot-bed for his or her self-discipline.  So how did these two skaters develop into companions and transfer into the thrilling world of ice dance?

“We had been skating at totally different rinks as single skaters till each our coaches moved to the identical rink,” Pham stated. “They mentioned pairing us collectively in ice dance and arrange a tryout for December 2017.”

Rogers spoke in regards to the ‘association’. “I used to be below the impression that Vanessa needed to bop and was on the lookout for a companion, and I imagine she was below the identical impression as me. I don’t suppose both of us had been precisely wanting to do it, however we weren’t in opposition to it. Both manner, I’m grateful with the way it all turned out.”

Pham was already being coached by Roman Zaretsky a two-time Olympic ice dancer for Israel.  So previous to the try-out with Rogers, she had really taken some ice dance checks and was constructing expertise. Nevertheless, she resisted for months liking skating with a companion till she lastly realized it was much less lonely, and he or she really beloved it extra.

“I by no means thought I’d have develop into a dancer as a result of I had by no means actually been interested by it,” Pham famous.

The Early Years
Vanessa Pham grew up in Pearland, Texas simply exterior of Houston. The highschool senior has three youthful siblings who’ve all participated in an ice sport, be it hockey or singles determine skating. 

She remembers being impressed by Sasha Cohen on the 2006 Olympics. 

“I beloved her iconic spiral a lot that I’d do one wherever I went,” Pham stated. “Seeing how a lot I needed to skate, my mother lastly enrolled me in Be taught To Skate lessons.”

It seems, skating was not as a lot enjoyable at first for the teen who was barely taller than the boards.

“Finally I discovered to like going quick and doing methods,” Pham stated. “Skating in a rink was additionally a bonus since Texas will get manner too sizzling in the summertime. I began out as a singles skater, doing jumps and such. I competed as much as novice stage earlier than I stop to deal with ice dance. I’ve positively progressed and achieved much more in dance than I ever might have in single skating.”

Pham’s long-term purpose is to pursue graduate research after attending college. Each her dad and mom are medical docs, so that’s one path, however she’s additionally open to different professions equivalent to legislation.

Jonathan Rogers is a primary technology Asian-American and has by no means lived wherever however Houston. The 19 yr outdated has an older sister who additionally skated and at the moment attends Purdue College. 

“My mom used to play basketball and volleyball, and my dad was a loopy child who was in a band,” Rogers stated. “I believe most of my athletic means comes from my mom, however my wit and humor are undoubtedly from my dad’s facet.”

“Earlier than I switched to ice dance, I used to be a single skater,” Rogers defined. “Jumps weren’t my forte and neither had been spins, however I stayed with it. It wasn’t for me, however it was all I knew. Ice dancing wasn’t actually huge in Houston on the time, not saying it’s now.”

Rogers is a freshman on the College of Houston, the place he’s contemplating a serious in accounting.

“I’ve at all times had a knack for understanding the enterprise facet of issues, particularly financial-related actions: investing, saving, promoting. and so forth.,” Rogers defined.

Coaching, Music, Objectives
Roman Zaretsky is their head coach. Additionally they practice with different specialists. Roger’s earlier coach, Val Prudsky does spins and lifts, and Evgeny Nemirovskiy works on artistry and ballet. Igor Shpilband and Pasquale Camerlengo choreographed their Moonlight Sonata free dance and assisted Zaretsky with the rhythm dance.

Their coaching schedule vacillates from longer in the summertime to shorter when the skaters are attending lessons.

“In the course of the faculty yr, we skate after faculty for 2 to 3 hours, six days per week,” Pham stated. “In the summertime months, we skate as much as 4 hours a day, 5 to 6 days per week. We do off-ice and ballet as soon as per week, however these are troublesome to persistently match into our schedules through the faculty yr. We additionally take stretch lessons a couple of times per week through the summer season.”

So far as selecting their music, Pham defined the method. “Jonathan and I discover music that we like individually earlier than we current it to one another. We search for music in our most popular types, protecting in thoughts how properly we might skate to it. I personally love classical music in addition to tales of affection. My mother additionally helps me search for music and provides some concepts.”

“After Jonathan and I hear to one anothers selections, we remove these we dont collectively like.  Those that we agree on and each like, we current to our coach, who provides his approval.”

Jonathan added, “Vanessa takes a extra direct position in choosing music as a result of I’m fairly down for something. Nevertheless, when the Rhythm Dance theme was hip-hop, I used to be choosing music left and proper.”

Pham and Rogers share the identical purpose for the 2022-2023 season. They need to formally make Crew USA and get a world Junior Grand Prix task. 

“I additionally need to enhance as a skater and workforce total,” Pham stated. “I need to stroll into each competitors with the purpose of skating as finest I do know that I can whereas having fun with the second.”

Rogers added, “Though this might sound foolish to say, I wish to have a Stage 4 spin at each competitors this season, as there has at all times been one thing that has saved us from attaining it.”

Pham & Rogers have skated collectively for over 4 years and have had ups and downs like all {couples}.  Every shared its favourite high quality in regards to the different companion.

“My favourite factor about being Jonathan’s companion is our friendship,” Pham stated. “It’s like skating with my finest buddy. We will speak to one another about something, and we perceive one another so properly. There are some instances we get agitated in the direction of one another, however we at all times discover ourselves stronger and higher for it. We remind ourselves that now we have one purpose as a workforce: to be the perfect we will be and to attain our objectives one step at a time.”

One of many qualities I like about Vanessa is her means so as to add construction to not solely our skating, but in addition my life off ice. She has a way of accountability and picked up character that’s unmatched, but she is aware of how and when to steadiness it with pleasure and creativity. She is aware of tips on how to hold me in verify, hold me decided on the ice throughout coaching and total learn me as an individual. It’s a particular trait. I’m grateful and recognize her expertise.

As Pham & Rogers partnership has grown, so additionally has their love for ice dance and its group.

I like the liberty essentially the most. I’ve at all times beloved the liberty,“ Pham defined. “I like how I can put my very own contact and interpretation on a step that’s given to me. I get to combine being artistic with being a perfectionist inside my applications. When I’m skating, nothing else exists to me moreover Jonathan, me and the ice.”

“Apart from the liberty of it, I like having a companion to share my skating experiences with. In single skating, it will get form of lonely coaching and going to competitions, however with a companion it makes all the pieces sweeter.”

“I believe probably the most enjoyable issues about ice dance is all of the touring and superb individuals you get near,” Rogers added. “Its such a particular factor to have the ability to sit down with individuals youve educated with and even competed in opposition to and develop into good buddies off the ice.”

There’s one factor the Texas duo didn’t agree about. If given the hypothetical alternative to ask dance groups to Texas for a personal lesson, their favorites had been totally different.

Pham stated, “I’d select [Gabriella] Papadakis & [Guillaume] Cizeron or Maya & Alex Shibutani for a solo lesson. Papadakis & Cizeron would give nice perception on skating expertise/methods with the convenience and charm they skate with. I’d additionally be taught in regards to the dynamic that works for them, and the way they cope with obstacles or challenges they’re introduced.” 

“As for the Shibutanis, I’d achieve so much from their methods. I’d additionally learn the way they handle having enjoyable off the ice whereas additionally being centered throughout skating.”

“Arms down, Jean-Luc Baker & Kaitlin Hawayek,” Rogers stated. “I imagine Vanessa and I actually mirror the calm sophistication of their skating, combined with hints of what could be Jean-Luc’s and my spontaneity and comedic wildness. Plus they’ve a singular type and character commitments that I imagine typically outshine the extra technical groups within the ice dance world, a top quality I’d prefer to be taught and develop from their classes.”

Constructing for the Future
In closing, Rogers and Pham mirrored on their ideas standing on the rostrum on the 2022 US Nationals.

“There was an important sigh of reduction understanding wed achieved our jobs,” Rogers stated. “We didnt go for a medal; we went to skate our greatest. The medal was simply an added bonus. Most of all although, I felt immense gratitude for Vanessa and [Coach] Roman. I knew this wouldn’t have been doable with out them. I do know Im not the best to cope with, however these two have repeatedly stayed by my facet. Im so grateful for them.”

Going into the competitors with out every other objectives than skating clear and never anticipating to medal, I used to be more than pleased,” Pham stated. “To be one of many 4 groups on the rostrum was price all the coaching we had been via that season. It fueled my hearth, and it made me need much more for subsequent season.”

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