COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Alexe Gilles, the 2008 U.S. junior champion, announced Wednesday she has ended her 10-year professional relationship with coach Tom Zakrajsek and will train with Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
“I need a new start and a fresh perspective,” Gilles said, “One I’m sure I’ll get with Yuka and Jason guiding me.”
Gilles leaves her longtime training site in Colorado Springs, Colo., after a season that saw her finish 11th and 12th at Skate Canada and Skate America, respectively, and 14th at the 2011 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
“I want to thank Tom, and also Becky Calvin, for all the years they dedicated to my training,” Gilles said. “They took me from a preliminary competitor up to an international team member. I learned so much for them.”
For Gilles, originally from Rockford, Ill., the move represents a return to the Midwest, where she will be close to her grandparents and numerous friends.
“I’m comfortable in the Detroit area,” she said. “The Detroit Skating Club has everything in one place. I can get the support and training I feel I need in order to achieve my goals for next season.”
Under Zakrajsek’s tutelage, Gilles became a three-time medalist in the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series and took the bronze at the 2009 ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Her best showing at an ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series event was a fifth-place finish at 2009 Trophée Eric Bompard.
“Alexe and I have had 10 great years together, and I have many fond memories of coaching her,” Zakrajsek said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to have guided her from the preliminary level all the way to the Grand Prix. I wish her the best of luck.”
Sato and Dungjen, a husband-and-wife team, have coached both Jeremy Abbott and Alissa Czisny to U.S. titles, Abbott in 2010, Czisny this season. Czisny also captured the gold medal at the 2010 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.
“Yuka and I are very honored that Alexe has decided to train at the Detroit Skating Club with us,” Dungjen said. “We are looking forward to getting started on this upcoming season with her.”
Photo courtesy of Leah Adams
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