Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker: “At the senior level everything is more serious”

Q: Tell us about your dances this season.

Jean-Luc: The SD is a Spanish style. It’s called Malaguena.

Kaitlyn : It’s not by a well-known composer. It’s more about a different interpretation of Malaguena compared to the much orchestrated strong style of Malaguena. It uses the accents of the Spanish music with acoustic guitar and we want to take a different approach to the Spanish style.

J-L: And the FD is our modern take of the classic Romeo and Juliet. We’re telling a modern story because if you do Romeo and Juliet, it’s a one track mind, but this way we don’t die in the end, we’re happy. We still have similar struggles but it ends up working out.

K: It’s from the soundtrack to the “Romeo and Juliet” film in 2013. We both have agreed that instead of saying we’re really skating to Romeo and Juliet story, it’s more about forbidden love.

Q: Short dance - very difficult theme – Paso Doble. Whether it was heavy to work on a pattern?

J-L : The dance itself isn’t that difficult but the key points this year are very hard for a lot of the teams. They are [judges] very particular about want they to see and a lot of times from event to event they’re different. It depends what the color and technical specialist are looking for in their personal preference.

K: Yeah. At least currently, there is not a universal idea of what the technical panel would like to see and that can get difficult, because you are trying to understand what exactly they want you to do, but it differs from competition to competition. But we are very glad to have received feedback this week on what we need to work on. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks when we go to NHK Trophy in Osaka we will be able to improve upon that.

Q: In this season you moved up to the senior level, was it difficult for you?

J-L: Oh, I don’t that it was very difficult. It definitely has its positives and negatives. We’ve really embraced the senior level. We stepped up our training from last year, we already train really hard, but I’ve noticed a difference in our training effort and level for longevity and it wasn’t too difficult as it was an adventure and a lot of fun.

K: A lot of excitement too. We’re both excited to be part of a newer level because it’s the big leagues now and the real deal. Every accomplishment we’ve made as a juniors we look back fondly and are proud of what we’ve accomplished, but now at the senior level, the real work starts. Everything becomes more serious so we’re both fueled by it and excited to see what the future holds.

Q: What are your plans, goals in this season?

J-L: Getting two Grand Prixs is a huge goal and accomplishment just because we knew we get one from winning the junior world tittle but getting two is great. As for goals, we want to put out strong performances each time. We have our own personal goals but it’s difficult to say what they are because it changes from competition to competition. We’re just trying to focus on one thing at a time and trying to push ourselves against the other competitors.

K: Goal wise, we are looking to improve on the quality of our programs and the way we put them out each time. We are trying to put more passion and more aggression in the way we attack our programs every time we compete. Of course, we want to improve our technical score and increase our levels.

Q: Tell about your team in Detroit Skating Club

K: We’re extremely fortunate to have the training center that we do in Detroit. There’s three training camps in Michigan but we’re training at DSC like you said and are happy where we are. We have an incredible team of coaches, Anjelika Krylova, Pasquale Camerlengo, and Natalia Deller who support us and have our backs. They’re all incredibly qualified and they know exactly what we need at this point in our career to push us and help us climb in the ranks. In addition, we also have a great training environment with lots of elite skaters who push us to be better every day. It helps motivate you every day to go to the rink and have them training by your side.


Q: Whether there is some music, ideas, images which you would like to embody on ice?

J-L: We don’t necessarily have anything at this point in our careers that we are dying to skate to. We take it one season at a time. We try to see how our skating progress throughout the season to push ourselves in different styles.

K: I think it’s dependent on what we need at the beginning of the season that will make us have the best opportunity to excel. Jean-Luc and I try to look for interesting takes on programs and different modern approaches so I’d definitely say for both of us that we tend not to look for traditional well known music other than Malaguena this year, of course, but we looked for a different unique version. We also like to push the boundaries and stand out and be original with our programs.

Q: You are together 3 seasons, but feeling, that you skate together since childhood how a couple, what is your secret?

J-L: Our secret is not necessarily a secret per say, a lot of reporters ask that. We truly believe it’s a multitude of things including the way we train is very different from a lot of other teams. Not in the way of our intensity is different, but it’s just our approach of having fun and recognizing why we started skating in the first place. Always trying to go to the rink to have a good day. Even if it’s a bad day, I know I can go to the rink not having a good day and Kaitlin will cheer me up and we’ll get on the ice and have fun training. We’re always doing something that we love, and can laugh with one another, and being able to push ourselves that way.

K: Even though this is our career and this is what we’ve chosen to do, it’s most definitely work, day in and day out, pushing ourselves, our bodies, and our minds. It’s a lot of work and a lot of effort but ultimately it’s a passion of ours and we love to skate so we try to bring that out on the ice every day and just enjoy the journey and that has worked for us so far.

Q: What are the strong sides of your partner?

K: I would have way to many things to say about Jean-Luc that I could list off the top of my head but if I had to choose a few, it would be that he’s extremely level headed in the everyday, he’s able to put whatever training we’ve had in the past – good or bad, behind him and go with a fresh start. Not much can get to him, he’s an even keel person. He’s extremely easy to work with and he’s have such a great personality that he always makes me laugh and smile when we train. And skating wise, he’s agility, I always call him a cat because he’s always light on his feet.

: Oh stop, stop…

K: Yeah, but keep going right?

J-L: Yeah, exactly.

K: I just… I think, that he has got a great ability and a great body of work that he’s able to get himself in situations that he can quickly climb out of.

J-L: Thank you. And for Kaitlin, she’s literally one of the most hard workers I’ve ever met. You can put anything in front of her and if it doesn’t work at that moment, in that hour, or in that day, it will happen within that week no matter what. And I can tell her to do something and she’ll figure out a way to do it and she’s there at 6am and doesn’t leave until 10pm. She’ll do whatever it takes for us as a team to maneuver around any obstacles that are in front of us to go over them or around them. She always has a way to approach to push through any obstacle that is in front of us and to keep a calming matter in our training because sometimes it can obviously get difficult with repetition and she just great with having will power to push through all of that. Sorry, I have a bad cough after the FD.

K: I remind you to breathe right.

J-L: And she always always reminds me to breathe because I forget to breath. So she’s like “breathe breathe” and I’m like okay I’ll do it now.

Q: Do you have favorite couples in ice dancing?

K: Of course, we love more recent teams, like Meryl and Charlie, Tessa and Scott. I think it was incredible to watch them to push the sport so much. They really just were taken to another level the ice-dance. It became more popular sport and push the level of the athleticism. Meryl and Charlie are always just so strong, that never can systems with mine gloving and Tessa and Scott very just the passion and the connection as the always broad to the ice with incredible. I always loved watching my coach Anjelika. I think she is great skater and she just so furious on the ice, I would love to embody the confidence she portrayed.

J-L: Same and also I love Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean from England. They are huge and such geniuses and pure class. I really thought their style is really ice-dance-like and it’s throughout the system now-a-days. It’s really hard to show that level of effortlessness and lightness while you skate and such ease without being “go go go.” You can show speed with little to no work. That’s what Kaitlin and I are working on and want to be able to show that.

K: We try to take qualities we like from each team and make it our own.

Q: How you came to this kind of sport- figure skating?

K: My entire family has been on the ice for a long time. My mother was a skater and she wanted my two brothers and me to learn how to skate and she never expected us to become so invested. My two brothers play hockey and it’s become a part of all of our lives. My mom always tells me, I just wanted you guys to learn how to skate, and she’s definitely inspired us to become a part of the ice world.

J-L: My parents were both competitors. My mom was in the ’88 Olympics for Ice Dance representing England and my dad was a pair skater for England as well. He made it to junior worlds and maybe worlds, I don’t know for sure. My mom was significantly more successful with her skating. So they put me on the ice at a young age and I enjoyed it. I was on and off for a couple of years and then I hit about 10 years old and loved to perform in shows and all that. Yeah, I love it when people are watching me, so I started doing shows and from then on, I loved it.

Q: What do you like to do, in time, free from sport?

K: I’m extremely interested in the brain and I love the psychology of the brain and I love neuroscience and so one day, Jean-Luc doesn’t believe me, I would love to be a neurosurgeon…a brain surgeon which is definitely an adventurous goal of mine. Of course I would have to re-evaluate it once skating is not as prevalent in my life but I can definitely see myself going in to that field whether its neuroscience or psychology or something related to the brain.

J-L: Real quick before I say mine, back to her will power, even though I say I don’t think she’ll do it, she will do it. I know that for a fact. I’m really just interested in skating and I aspire to be a coach and choreographer when I’m older. That’s my passion and I’ve known that since I was 10, the creative process in the shows and forming new programs and figuring our different transitions I love. I have so much knowledge already at my young age with what we do, I really feel I can be a good coach later on. As for hobbies, you’re going to laugh but I love to sleep.

K: No joke. He’s the best at it. He would win the world championships at sleeping.

J-L: We were so lucky that when we got off the plane here in Moscow, Anjelika told us to stay awake because of the jet lag, so we saw the red square and other than that, it’s the only time we’ve seen the red square. I’ve been either here in my bed, in the dining hall, or at the rink. And Kaitlin likes to go out and walk around with her mom and explore a little bit and I love to do that but I’m like competition so I sleep. But it’s the same when I’m at home. I get exhausted and I have it down to the minute to get up in the morning and ready and out the door.

Q: Have you ever been in Russia earlier? Do you like it? And how for you this Grand Prix?

K: We have never been in Russia, neither Moscow or any part of Russia. It’s been an incredible experience to see this part of the world. Moscow is beautiful, we got to see like Jean-Luc said before, the Red Square, and it’s stunning. It took my breath away. When you see it in pictures and in magazines you want to go there one day but when you see it in person, it was even more amazing.
In generally, I think the competition was great, it was extremely well organized and we had all the resources. The rink was great and the Russian audience too.

J-L: Fans amazing, so supportive and it doesn’t matter what country where are you from.

K: It was really great to see, because sometimes at the junior level you don’t get to have a big crowd. In last year, in country like Japan , where grand prix final was, we’ve got experience sort of like a senior level experience, but in generally we was really exiting to skate too.

J-L: Yeah! I agree.

Q: Thank you!!

Interview by Veronika Potaturko