Skating Algonquin brothers train with Sochi's elite
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Rockne and Collin Brubaker train with the elite coterie of ice skaters now competing in the Sochi Olympics.
So if anyone can talk ice dancing and pairs skating with authority, it's the Brubakers. The Algonquin natives recently competed at the U.S. Nationals and have been on the circuit for years.
Rockne, a 27-year-old pairs skater, and his brother Collin, a 25-year-old ice dancer, both graduated from Jacobs High School in Algonquin; their mother, Monica, owns a marketing company in the village.
In 2007, Rockne Brubaker was the junior U.S. Champion and the junior World Champion in pairs skating. He followed that up in 2008 and 2009 with wins at the U.S. Championships. He placed ninth at the U.S. Championships last month.
Collin, meanwhile, has won several sectional championships in ice dancing, including the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectional Figure Skating Championships. Last month he finished eighth at the national championships in ice dancing.
The brothers skate at the Arctic Edge of Canton, just outside Detroit, with some of the biggest names in the sport.
They train with American ice dancing team Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and Maia and Alex Shibutani, a sibling ice-dancing team from the U.S.
There's a lot of hardware among the group.
Davis and White are six-time U.S. Champions, the 2011 and 2013 world champions, and they scored silver medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Virtue and Moir won the 2010 Olympic gold medal over Davis and White.
The Shibutanis, meanwhile, are the 2011 World ice dancing bronze medalists.
"I know they were super excited to get that third spot because they've been working toward it since the last Olympics," Collin Brubaker said.
America's best bet for bringing home Olympic gold in ice dancing belongs to Davis and White, the Brubakers say. If successful, the couple would make history by becoming the first American ice dancing team to win the gold.
"They've been the top team on the circuit all year," Rockne Brubaker said. "People are definitely looking at Charlie and Meryl to bring home gold, and they definitely have an opportunity to do that.
"They're two of the nicest people I've ever met — maybe two of the hardest workers I've ever met. They're ready, they're prepared, and I know they want it more than anything."
Davis and White likely will duke it out with their training mates and rivals Virtue and Moir for the podium's top spot, Collin Brubaker said.
"It seems like it's going to be between those two (teams)," Collin Brubaker said.
When it comes to pairs skating, it's a tossup among four teams — two from Canada, one from Germany and another from Russia — for the gold medal, Rockne Brubaker said.
Russia's hopes to win gold at home rest on Tatyana Volosozhar and her partner, Maxim Trankov, the 2013 world champions.
Representing Germany are four-time World and European champions Aliona Savchenko and her partner, Robin Szolkowy.
Finally, the Canadian teams are comprised of Kirsten Moore-Towers and partner Dylan Moskovitch, as well as Meagan Duhamel and partner Eric Radford.
Duhamel and Radford are Canada's three-time national champions, and they placed third at the 2013 World Championships. Moore-Towers and Moskovitch, meanwhile, were fourth at those same worlds.
"These four teams, they were the top four from worlds this last spring," Rockne Brubaker said. "Anything can happen, and it's going to be all about who competes the best and performs the best that evening."
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