For years Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn toiled in the ranks of freestyle skaters. Scott, who competed for 15 years, noted that "I took it as far as I could and then decided to try something new. I wanted something more thrilling, so I decided to try pairs." Dulebohn competed as far as seniors in 1997, where he finished 13th, but realized that "pairs offered more opportunities. I knew I'd never get to the big competitions in singles. It's nice to have a partner. It makes a big difference when you're not as lonely out there."
Scott has been skating since she was four. She began skating lessons in the USFSA's Skate With Us Program rather than attending preschool. Dulebohn began at six when his mother asked him if he wanted to take lessons along with his older brother Paul, who competed in men's singles and pairs for several years.
Three years ago, they were paired as a team by coach Karl Kurtz. "They both jump right, they were the right size match, and they have complimentary personalities," Kurtz noted. "We had a lot to learn, especially since I had not had any pairs experience," Scott stated.
The move to pairs quickly paid off as the couple moved from third in junior pairs in 1997 to fifth at the 1999 U. S. Nationals. They followed that with a sixth at their first international competition at the Four Continents Championships in Halifax, Canada. During the 1999-2000 season, the pair continued to improve. They finished fourth at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany and sixth at two Grand Prix events, Skate America and Trophee Lalique. "It's been great to see places around the world and to walk around Paris," Scott stated. "I have never been to any places like this before."
The pairs used "Improviso" for the short program last season and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances Opus 45 for the free skate. Kurtz choreographs their programs and selects all of the music. "The long is the same as last year. I had been saving it for eight years. It's strong music and I didn't want to use it for someone who couldn't do it justice," he noted. Scott added that "it took forever to find the music for the short. We wanted something light and fun."
The skaters had modest goals for their first major international season. "We just wanted to skate well, gain experience, and let people get to know us," Dulebohn noted. "It's a new environment for us, competing against skaters at the top level." They were hoping for a top three finish at U. S. Nationals and a trip to Worlds and accomplished that by finishing second in Cleveland. "Nationals was great," Scott said. "Everything was so exhilarating -- from the excitement of the crowd, to being on the podium, and even the exhibition of champions. Earning a spot on the world team was an added bonus that made us so happy."
Next, the pair traveled to Osaka, Japan for their second Four Continents Championships. It was a rough week, with Scott suffering a back injury in the first practice. Unable to practice for the remainder of the week, the couple expected to withdraw, but decided to take a chance and compete. Their attempt was successful as they finished with the bronze, their first international medal. "Japan was very interesting," Scott stated. "The people there were so polite."
The team's Worlds debut in Nice, France, resulted in two strong performances and a ninth place finish, bringing to a close a very successful competitive year. "Worlds was a very positive and memorable experience," Scott stated. "The city was beautiful and the shopping was great too. We got to do a lot of sightseeing -- Monte Carlo, Monaco, and the Royal Palace."
The duo plans to compete at least until 2002. "We're taking it season by season," Scott said. "Our goals are affected by our results from the last season, but we just try to focus on one year at a time. For next season, we will be getting a new long program so we have been searching for the right music. We're also enjoying some down time and having a good time doing some shows."
Kurz noted that "the reason that they have come so far so fast is that they're both very positive people. They want to make things fun and that allows them to keep progressing." The pair did side by side triple toe loop/double axel and double flip/double toe combinations this year, but realize it will take more to move up internationally. "We need to upgrade our throw double axel to at least a throw triple toe, as well as add to the quality of the elements we already have," Dulebohn explained. The team practices for four 40-minute sessions each day, in addition to ballet and off-ice workouts that are sandwiched around work and school.
Both are students at the University of Delaware. Philip is a sophomore, while Tiffany is a junior who sports a near perfect average in her classes. So far, they are taking primarily basic courses although Tiffany is planning to major in nutrition and Philip is considering a degree in engineering. They both coach "Learn to Skate" classes and wait tables to help with expenses since they have no sponsors.
Since their season schedule is so hectic, the skaters don't have much time for other activities. When their schedule permits, both enjoy going out with friends. Tiffany likes to sew and collects skating stamps and postcards. Philip likes to play pool, read fiction books, and listen to current and 1980s pop rock music. Both skaters like to watch action and comedy movies. In the off season, Tiffany enjoys biking, hiking, rollerblading and tennis, while Philip likes biking and jet skiing.
Since her two brothers played hockey, she wanted to play too. Her parents allowed her to go to skating lessons rather than preschool, but preferred that she take figure skating lessons rather than hockey.
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