Emily Rose Brown & James Hernandez are Junior Ice Dancers representing Great Britain, and have been partners for five years.
Their international placements this season have included some of their best results yet, including a 4th place finish at Golden Spin of Zagreb just a week after being crowned Junior National Champions for the first time. The latter event was held in Sheffield, England and that is where we met them, and coaches Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland, who now train in Philadelphia, USA.
We caught up with the duo just after Nationals to talk about their junior career and life away from the ice.
First of all, congratulations again on your first junior national title! You were leading after the Rhythm Dance, did that affect how were you feeling before you stepped onto the ice for the Free?
Thank you so much. Well to be honest it was an overwhelming feeling after hearing the marks for the Rhythm Dance and we were both so happy that our hard work was starting to pay off. Going into the Free, I think rather than feeling pressure, there was a shared feeling of excitement as James and I really love to perform the Free Dance – especially in front of our family and friends. Regardless of the score we just wanted to enjoy our Free Dance and show everyone at home what we have been working on.
Favourite quality about each other?
James is really caring and is a great partner. He is so passionate about the sport and is great to work with.
Emily’s just so funny, 24/7, so her humour!
You both seemed very excited after hearing your free and combined score, how does it feel to have wrapped up your junior career with the national title?
It is an incredible feeling for both of us. We have been through so much as a team and it was lovely to see that eventually on our last year of Junior we were able to achieve the Junior National Title. It meant so much to us.
We were sat next to your families for your performances and pride was radiating from them. What does their support mean to you both?
The support that we both receive from our families means more to us than words could ever express. They have been there for us through thick and thin and given us the confidence we need to keep going. Their support means the world. It was so lovely to be able to perform to them live.
You just finished 4th at Golden Spin, the highest placement of your international career this season so far, do you feel like your hard work is paying off?
Yes we do! We have worked so hard in America for the past few months and we finally feel like all of our hard work is starting to pay off. It’s such a rewarding feeling.
Your Rhythm Dance, set to music from Top Hat, was choreographed by Maurizio Margaglio and your free is to Les Misérables, choreographed by Mark Hanretty. What was the inspiration behind these music choices and what were both choreography processes like?
For our Rhythm Dance, me and James wanted to perform something that was very traditional and ‘of the foxtrot era’. As the theme this year was musicals we had a lot of fun deciding. We decided to go with music from Top Hat because we loved the tune ‘putting on the ritz’ and thought the tune ‘let’s face the music and dance’ would be lovely for a foxtrot. The choreography process with Maurizio was an amazing experience and we had the best time working with him. Maurizio had some very unique and traditional ideas that made the programme very special.
For the Free Dance, Les Miserables was a musical that we have always wanted to skate to. James and I went to see the musical in London and were mesmerised. We were struggling for ideas for music and that’s when James brought it back into the mix! We played the music and it gave us goosebumps. We have choreographed with Mark in previous seasons and love the way he works. We really enjoyed this choreography process and our ideas bounced off of one another, creating something that we felt was really special and unique to our skating.
Favourite program by another skater/team?
One of my all time favourite programmes is Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Prince Short Dance 2016/17
Completely unrelated to them being our coaches, but Nick and Penny’s Michael Jackson free dance from 2014. So much energy and innovation!
Although you’ve worked with them in the past you’re also being coached by former Olympians Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland in Philadelphia, what’s it like to work with them on a more long term basis?
Being coached by Nick and Penny has been a dream come true for both of us. They are true inspirations on and off the ice and we are incredibly lucky to be working with such fantastic role-models. We have both never been as genuinely happy skating as we have the past few months, since training with Nick and Penny on a more long term basis. They have shone a new light on our skating and given us a fresh outlook for our future. We can’t wait to continue working with them on a longer term basis, and we are so grateful for everything they have done for us.
How did you first get started in skating and did you ever see yourself competing in the sport?
Emily: I first started skating when I was 8. I was at a theme park in Blackpool with my family and there was an advertisement for skate UK. Admittedly I wasn’t up for it, and only did it because my younger brother wanted to do it with me! I never saw myself being able to stand up on the ice – let alone competing in the sport!!
James: I started skating when I was 4 at Slough. I am very lucky to have grown up with skating being a big part of my life. My sister skated and she got me into the sport. I am a sporty person and like to put time into new challenges, but I never would have thought I’d end up competing for Great Britain!
Skater you'd like to coach you for a day?
Probably not coach but to watch! I would love to work with Madison Chock as I think she is a beautiful skater and would love to be able to watch the way she moves effortlessly across the ice.
Probably not coach but watch, to learn their mentality, Alena Kostornaia.
James, you’re also studying for A-Levels at the moment. What subjects are you doing and how have you found balancing study time?
So I take French, Politics and History- wasn’t my best decision as they are quite essay heavy subjects! When we are out in the US it has been hard to study as much as I should, there are so many distractions as well as being so focused on training, but whenever I have had a spare hour or two I’ve tried to get a bit done. My teachers are great at sending me work whilst we’re away training so I’m very thankful for that- it helps massively!
You’ve been partnered together for several years, what makes skating with each other so enjoyable?
James and I have been together for five years and know each other better than anyone! We felt a strong connection when we first started skating together, and from then on our friendship has only got stronger. We are so lucky that we get to travel the world and experience all these amazing things with each other. It’s amazing to do something you love with your best friend!
Emily, you get to travel a lot to train and compete. Where have been some of your favourite destinations and why?
I am so lucky that I get the opportunity to travel the world and have had some incredible experiences doing so. I have loved spending time in Philadelphia during training and it is definitely one of my favourite cities alongside New York!! Another of my favourite destinations is Zagreb – especially during the Christmas season as the Christmas markets are great!
Early mornings or late nights?
It depends!! Most of the time I prefer early mornings!
Early mornings for sure, you can get so much done!
Favourite Movie/TV Show?
My favourite movie has to be one of the Avengers movies – probably Endgame! I love the tv series Friends, too.
Got to be Forrest Gump. Emily will laugh because every plane trip I watch it!
Describe your perfect day from start to finish (for example: wake up time, activities, food, who do you meet up with?)
Emily: My perfect day would be a weekend. I love training hard in the week as it makes the weekend off that bit more relaxing!! I like to get up and sit on the sofa with a cup of tea alongside my family and dog! During the day I like to spend time with family and friends – but I do also love a chilled day in watching Netflix!!
James: The perfect day would probably be a Saturday! Have a bit of a lie-in, maybe 9 am! Watch a football game (if Emily isn’t watching Friends!) and then go for some brunch. I quite like an active “weekend off”, so in the afternoon I like to either go shopping, or head into the city or see some friends. In the evening having a nice meal, either takeaway Indian (which I love!) or something at home.
All photos courtesy of Emily’s, James’ and Emily and James’ Instagrams.
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