Coaching changes by a pair of former U.S. champions and the retirement of a longtime national and international competitor highlight a busy off-season for several U.S. Figure Skating athletes.
After more than 10 years of U.S. and international competition, Bebe Liang announced her retirement from competitive skating. Liang, who trained with Ken Congemi and Frank Carroll during her career, won bronze at the 2006 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. Her best showing at a U.S. Figure Skating Championships was a fourth-place finish in 2007.
"My time as a competitive figure skater has been the most rewarding and exciting time in my life, but now I feel it is time to close that chapter and open a new one," Liang said. "I would like to thank my fans and everyone at U.S. Figure Skating who has been so supportive of me. I would especially like to thank my family and my coaches, who have put so much time and energy into molding me to become the athlete I am today."
Ice dancing team Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles have also made public their retirement from competitive skating. The duo, which teamed up three years ago, garnered bronze at the 2008 Nebelhorn Trophy and twice placed sixth at the U.S. Championships.
Four pairs teams have ended their professional partnerships, including 2009 U.S. junior champions and 2007 U.S. novice champions Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau.
"Tracy and I had a very successful career in our six competitive seasons together. We have learned so much from each other and have had such great memories that I will never forget," Chau said. "Tracy is like a little sister to me, and there will always be a place in my heart for her. I wish her the best in the future."
Also concluding their partnerships are 2010 U.S. novice pairs silver medalists Tori Vollmer and Zack Sidhu, 2009 U.S. novice pairs champions Cassie Andrews and Nicholas Anderson and 2009 U.S. novice pairs silver medalists Haven Denney and Daniel Raad.
Andrews has formed a partnership with Timothy DeLuc, and Denney has teamed up with 2008 U.S. novice men's champion Daniel O'Shea.
Ice dancing teams Piper Gilles and Zach Donohue, the reigning two-time U.S. junior bronze medalists, and Trina Pratt and Chris Obzansky, who finished ninth at this year's U.S. Championships, have also split up.
2009 U.S. champion Alissa Czisny has announced that she will continue to train at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., but now under the tutelage of Yuka Sato, who also coaches two-time reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott.
"Having enjoyed taking lessons from Yuka Sato in the past, I am looking forward to working with her and Jason Dungjen as my full-time coaches," Czisny said. "I'm very excited for them to teach me everything they know."
Kimmie Meissner, the 2006 World champion and 2007 U.S. champion, has left her most recent training site in Coral Springs, Fla., for Fairfax, Va., where she will be coached by Chris Conte. Conte has worked as a technical consultant for U.S. Olympians Timothy Goebel, Sasha Cohen and Emily Hughes.
Other U.S. skaters making a coaching change include 2008 Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final champion Becky Bereswill, who is leaving Houston, Texas, for Canton, Mich., to train with Fedor Andreev and Johnny Johns; 2007 U.S. novice silver medalist and 2009 U.S. junior bronze medalist Alexander Johnson, who will be mentored by Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin at the Broadmoor SC in Colorado Springs, Colo.; 2009 U.S. novice bronze medalist Angela Wang, who will remain at Salt Lake Figure Skating and train with Scott Smith; and 2009 U.S. novice ice dancing champions Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager, who will train with Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov at the IceWorks Skating Complex in Aston, Pa.
Three skaters announced they will be training with Frank Carroll, coach of Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and U.S. silver medalist Mirai Nagasu, in El Segundo, Calif. They are 2010 U.S. novice champion Leah Keiser, 2009 U.S. junior ladies silver medalist Ellie Kawamura and 2009 U.S. junior ladies pewter medalist Kristiene Gong.