Emma Goodstadt (18) and Christian Bennett (20) are a new Canadian junior ice dance team this season.
Tell us about your individual skating journeys, including any early special memories.
Emma Goodstadt (EG): I began skating at the age of 3 as a part of the CANSkate program at my home club in Oakville, Ontario. After participating in several seasons of singles competitions, a new opportunity arose in 2016 when the ice dance director of my club approached me to form a partnership with another young skater. That marked the beginning of my seven-year-long ice dance career and counting. An early memory of mine is skating on the ice rink that my dad used to build for my sisters and me every winter. I remember coming home from school and skating with my sisters until the sun went down, spending hours perfecting the new tricks we would learn at practice.
Christian Bennett (CB): I started my skating journey at 10 years old in Charlotte, North Carolina where, despite its lack of presence, I continued to grow and train hard with the resources I had. Despite the geographical setback, my partner and I at the time became the first ice dancers from Charlotte to qualify for Nationals!
What drew you to ice dance?
EG: What I have always enjoyed about ice dance is getting to share all of the experiences and emotions that come along with training and competing with someone else. You can always count on your partner to support you through the occasional tough training session, and when the time comes to compete you have someone there to celebrate the victories with, big or small.
CB: I grew up riding horses with my mother. That was her sport and through her love for horses, I fell in love with them as well. As fate would have it, I ended up, by happenstance, mentioning to a mother at our farm I liked to ice skate. One of her daughters took from US coach Gary Shortland who would become my coach for roughly the next decade. Skating taught me the joy of competition, the mastery of technicality, and the value of self-improvement.
Tell us how your partnership started (Partner Search, training mate, etc.) Describe the tryout.
It all started in 2018 when I (Christian) was training in Canada for a few days with Emma’s coaches. Emma’s partner at the time was sick, which the coaches used as an opportunity to stick us together for a few tryouts, nothing groundbreaking. However, upon getting off the ice my mother privately commented to me, “Y’all look great! I wish she was looking for a partner!” Little did she know how poignant that offhand comment would become. Fast forward 4 years, and horses, once again, played a pivotal role in this skating moment. Our partnership started through a random conversation over Instagram when I saw Emma’s post from a big horse show. Upon messaging her, we talked about our mutual connections to riding, which bled into catching up and realizing we were both in between partners. After suggesting a tryout to her and her coaches, I found myself on a plane to Canada within a few weeks.
What is it that you already like most about dancing with your new partner?
EG: I like the passion that Christian brings to training every day. It motivates me to work harder and push myself as hard as I can. We have also already become great friends which has made training extremely enjoyable! Together, we have been able to discover a perfect balance of fun and seriousness that we bring to the rink every day, and it makes for a highly productive way of training.
CB: Despite us still getting to know each other, what makes our training so enjoyable is her personality. Multiple times a day, we find ourselves unable to function due to fits of contagious and uncontrollable laughter. It adds a lovely and lighthearted energy to the otherwise stressful and intense training that all skaters partake in. In contrast, this is her extremely hardworking and driven demeanor. When she puts her mind to something, it gets done. This spans from choreography to school. It is both inspiring as well as invaluable to our progression.
What experiences do each of you bring to the partnership? (International competitions, training, etc.)
Emma has previous international experience with NextGen and Skate Canada. She has partaken in multiple Junior Grand Prix events and has used these experiences, coupled with a great social web of friends and colleagues to assist in their progression as a new team for Skate Canada. Christian has spent a lot of time working with and studying the artistic and technical elements of a diverse range of skating styles, which has brought a more well-rounded and diverse approach to our training and choreographing.
What has been the most significant adjustment for each of you so far in the partnership?
EG: A big adjustment for me has been learning how to push myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to the interpretation of our programs. Christian is very expressive and is excellent at channeling characters we’ve chosen to portray, and for me to match his level of presentation I have had to put a lot of work into my acting abilities as well as developing more confidence in myself both as a skater and as a person.
CB: For me, the patience of progression has been difficult at times. In skating, especially with new teams, you will find certain struggles that will only be overcome with time. No matter how hard you work them, things like communication, tracking, and chemistry all take time to develop as much as they do hard work.
Tell us about your training site. (Location, facilities, dance mates, classes, etc.)
EG: We train at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club in Scarborough, Ontario. It is a historic club which recently celebrated 70 years of operation. We train alongside a wonderful collection of athletes including Canada’s sweethearts, Piper Gillies and Paul Poirier
Who are your coaches? Did either or both have to relocate? If so, tell us about the move(s).
EG: Our coaching team is Carol and Jon Lane, as well as Juris Razgulajevs and Marć-Andre Servant. I moved to Ontario from the States and it was quite an intimidating hurdle. The transition happened as smoothly as it could thanks to the warm welcomes from my new teammates as well as Emma’s family.
Who is choreographing your programs? Is someone else arranging your music? If so, please share those experiences.
Our coaching staff has done our choreography this year, Marc- Andre and Juris have been especially central in our routines’ constructions. Our music is cut by Rob, The Skating Music Guy. He has been essential in creating the vision we had for the music.
If you could have a lesson with any ice dancer past/present, who would it be? Why?
EG: I would love the opportunity to be taught by Patrick Chan, Canadian Olympian. I have always been so touched by his elegance and impeccable skating skills, as well as the way he can tell a story through his movements. A few months ago I went to watch Stars on Ice, where Patrick performed a beautiful program dedicated to his newborn son. It was incredibly touching and inspired me to channel my own raw emotions into my skating, as opposed to “turning on” a completely separate character.
CB: I would love to work with Natalia Linichuk. Spending time on the East Coast in the States, I saw first-hand the impact of her coaching prowess. After witnessing the generations of talented ice dancers and coaches she has produced, I would love to tap into her wealth of knowledge.
What is each of you looking forward to most this skating season? What will be your biggest challenge(s)?
EG: I am looking forward to competing at the Canadian National Championships in January 2023. The last time I competed at a national championship was in 2020 when my partner and I won the silver medal in Novice Ice Dance. I have such fond memories of that event and being surrounded by all of my teammates, coaches, friends, and family. This Nationals will be particularly special as it will be Christians’s first Canadian National Championships, as well as our first Championships as a team.
CB: I think I’m looking forward to meeting all my new competitors in Canada. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make so many new friends over the next season. The last few months have been full of new encounters and new memories that will not soon be forgotten. This whole season feels like a breath of fresh air, and I have a revitalization that I cannot wait to put into action for the proceeding months up until Nationals!
EG: One of our challenges this season will be learning how to best pace ourselves for the long season ahead of us. Both of our most recent seasons were cut short so we don’t know yet what it is going to feel like to compete for 7+ months in a row. We will need to pay extra attention to how our bodies are feeling both mentally and physically, and continuously check in with each other if we want to maintain momentum throughout the season.
Please share anything you would like our readers to know about you as a team.
Follow our skating journey on our social media!
Instagram: @ EmmaGoodstadt and @ Christianbennett.ice
X (Twitter): @ Emmagoodstadt and @ Cbreezyonice