Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers: “As long as you believe in yourself – anything is possible!”

Interview by Vladislav Luchianov
Photo: The Star

He was born in South Africa and she is a girl from Saskatchewan, Canada. As a result, there is a pair skating team which fixes our eyes on their special energy on ice. They are the 2011 Canadian bronze medalists and 2011 Four Continents Championships bronze medalists. These guys can already name this season as successful.

My today’s guests are Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers.

Paige Lawrence started to skate when she was four. Her parents own a rodeo production company and she competed in barrel racing when she was younger.

Rudi Swiegers began skating at age ten, after his family moved from South Africa to Canada and began skating pairs at age fifteen. His first partner, Kristin Bonkowski, decided in 2005 to focus on her singles career. He then paired up with Lawrence, who was among the few skaters at his club who was also a clockwise jumper.

Hello Paige and Rudi. Let’s start with your first big success – a bronze at the Canadian Nationals. How it was for you?

Paige Lawrence: The BMO Canadian Championships were very exciting for us this year. I feel that we performed two strong performances- our long still leaving a little to be desired. I was initially a little disappointed after missing out on the Worlds team, but quickly overcame that to start focusing on Four Continents and on being as ready for that as possible. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and so I think that this experience happened to make us that much more hungry to do even better next year.

Rudi Swiegers: Nationals was an extremely fun experience. Great skating by all the competitors and walking out with the bronze is a great honor.

After that, you won the bronze medal at the Four Continents Championships. What are your impressions about this competition?

Paige Lawrence: I loved the Four Continents competition! It was our first time going to it, and obviously we are very happy with the results, but the entire experience was memorable. I loved seeing old friends from different countries as well as making new ones, and it is such an honor to be able to watch and take part in such a prestigious event.

Rudi Swiegers: Going into Four Continents, Paige and I didn’t really know what to expect. So we just headed in with plan’s to perform 2 solid programs and let the programs speak for themselves. It was our first international championship event and we’re very happy and proud with our results.

You have seen a skating life in Taipei. What is your general opinion about figure skating development in this region?

Paige Lawrence: I didn’t get a chance to watch the opening ceremonies when local skaters got to showcase their talents, but I did catch a glimpse of the few local skaters in the Gala performance and I thought they did very well! The volunteers and crowd were all very supportive and friendly and all helped to make it an enjoyable time.

Rudi Swiegers: Not sure about seeing a skating life in Taipei, as it was an international competition with competitors from around the world, but Pang and Tong (from this geographic region I guess) are amazing competitors and amazing athletes, placed first.

Paige, you are from Saskatchewan province and on the ice you look like very optimistic, positive and energetic person. Is it Saskatchewan’s “trademark”?

Paige Lawrence: I really can’t say if it’s a “Saskatchewan Trademark” but I do feel as though my small-town/ranch upbringing has helped shape me into the person that I am today. I embrace the fact that I am from a ranch just outside of a town populated by around 500 people, and I am very comfortable with myself and who I am. I think that has to do with why I can be so optimistic and cheerful because that is just how I am. I definitely try to be this way on and off the ice. I love my life and I am extremely grateful for everything in it!

Rudi, you were born in Cape Town. What do your friends or relatives, who live there, tell about your skating successes?

Rudi Swiegers: My family, that still lives in RSA, are always very excited to hear about skating successes. They constantly follow up through the internet and are a huge support to myself and Paige. I truly love them for their help in making me the athlete and person I am today.

Is there something which attracts you the most in a pair skating?

Paige Lawrence: I love everything about skating, but I find pair skating to be a little more dangerous and thrilling than just singles skating. I’m a bit of a risk taker so I love this aspect of pair skating. I love being lifted and thrown and I like being able to perform a program with another person. I feel as if a story or a theme is better portrayed with two people rather than just by myself.

Rudi Swiegers: Pair skating is great because you have a partner in which you can lean on for support and who can also receive support from you. Throughout training we get to experience the highs and lows together and we become stronger and better because of it. I believe that is truly the essence of pair skating.

And what is the most difficult to your team?

Paige Lawrence: Rudi and I have always been fairly strong technically I feel, but we really want to start improving on our program components. That was one of our goals for this year and I feel as though we have made huge strides towards meeting this goal but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Tell us, please, about your next goals?

Paige Lawrence: As I just mentioned, we still feel as though we have a lot of work to be done on our program components so we are going to be working very hard at trying to get better in that area. As soon as we are done doing shows this spring we will be getting 2 new programs choreographed and then the work begins for preparing for next year!

My traditional question is about your advice to young skaters.

Paige Lawrence: My advice would be: do it because you love to do it, and don’t let anyone or anything stop you. As long as you believe in yourself and work hard – anything is possible!!

Rudi Swiegers: Decide what you want out of skating life, and then go for it. Don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams and goals.

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