Detroit is destination for foreign skaters competing in Olympics

Figure skaters in singles, pairs, ice dance come from around the world to train under coaches in metro Detroit

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DETROIT - Detroit is home to many American athletes competing in the Olympic Games, but there are also figure skaters representing several different countries who live and train in the Motor City.

These athletes have moved their lives to Detroit to train at one of three ice rinks, the Detroit Skating Club, the Arctic Edge of Canton and the Skating Club of Novi.

Jerod Swallow is the managing director at DSC and explains why so many skaters are choosing Detroit to train.

"Between two years leading up to Vancouver, so 2008 until now, Detroit has really become a hotbed for figure skating in general, and it is the coaching, whether its Marina Zoueva, or Igor Shpilband or Pasquale Camerlengo," Swallow said. "We're all at three different rinks but they cover all the disciplines, singles, pairs, and dance, and the choreography for those disciplines."

World champion figure skater, Patrick Chan, is a favorite to win gold in the men's singles competition in Sochi. He trains at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills.

"I didn't come here for a coach or for anything in particular, but just the environment of being in an international environment," Chan said.

Two other Canadian ice dance teams also train at DSC, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam.

Islam said skating alongside accomplished skaters helps push everyone to be better.

"Here at DSC, there are so many incredible ice dance teams," Islam said, "So we're getting that push every day, and I think we're getting benefits of a really competitive program here."

His teammate Alexandra Paul agrees.

"People push each other every day, and the coaching staff is amazing," Paul said.

In fact, DSC has 13 athletes from five nations competing in Sochi, Russia.

The skating club in Novi has nine ice dance teams competing from several countries, including Italy, France, and Lithuania. Arctic Edge of Canton also has a Canadian ice dance team.

"There is no favoritism for American skaters than Canadians or Italians, it doesn't matter," Chan said. "That was the whole reason why I made the move."

Detroit is an attractive place to train because the area provides all the resources elite skaters need.

"When they can come and do everything they need in one place, it's very convenient and helpful for them," Swallow said.

It is not just the coaches and the facilities, Chan said it's also the skating community with the three rinks.   They can all get together on their off days.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam are examples of skaters who are really making Detroit their home. They also attend Oakland University.

"We're proud to train here. We love Michigan, so we've really embraced it here, and it's really embraced us, the community," Paul said. "We're definitely representing Michigan along with Canada."

While these international skaters will be competing for their home countries at the Olympics Games, they certainly have a place in their heart for metro Detroit.

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