Episode #12: Phillip Dulebohn

An interview with Phillip Dulebohn, former US National Pairs champion with partner Tiffany Scott, 2002 Olympian, and now a Coach in Delaware. 29 minutes, 17 seconds.

Thanks to Fiona McQuarrie for transcribing these interview highlights:

On his most embarrassing skating moment:  We were trying to make the world team for a second time, and we were skating at Nationals in Boston, and I remember we came around, did our first element, nailed our triple toes, which was our big thing, and then we had triple twist next. And I remember taking this big stroke, and at the time I had these really big fat boots that didn’t really fit my feet properly. So whenever I took a big deep edge my boot would actually catch on the ice, and it would make me slip. So I just slipped right off my foot, and I took Tiffany down with me, and we slammed right into the wall. On national television, and right in front of everybody, and trying to make the world team.  I remember it felt like it took about 30 minutes for us to get up on the ice, but in actuality we just sprung right back up. I don’t know if you’ve ever fallen on freshly cut ice, where it’s really slippery and you can’t quite get a grip on it, your knees are whipping out from beneath you when you’re trying to get your feet back on the ice. It was kind of like that. But we literally stood up, took two strokes, and did a triple twist. It was pretty cool.

On switching from singles to pairs: There was a period of about five to six years where I competed seriously as a novice skater, and I won in 1989 – I guess I’m dating myself now [laughs] – but I was in Baltimore for my first national championships, and it went really well, and of course I won. Really, one of the happiest moments in my skating. And then I competed as a junior level skater for four years and then one year as a senior. And then I started skating pairs, when I was almost 20. My choreographer at the time, Karl Kurtz, had another skater that he had taught starting from scratch, and it was a good fit for me. That year was the first year I did not qualify for nationals. So I was a little disappointed, and, you know, I didn’t feel that I was finished and I figured I was ready to try something new, and try pairs. I took it very lightly at first, when I was really kind of doing both [singles and pairs]. My first partner and I were really doing things on a trial basis at first and then it developed into a more competitive thing as time went on. We ended up skating for a year and a half together and then we disconnected, more because I felt like I didn’t get along with her very well and she was a little difficult for me at the time. We were both young, and it was just difficult for us to relate on the ice and I was really frustrated. It was really kind of sapping the life out of me. So at that point I decided to skate singles again for another season, and then the following year Tiffany [Scott] and I started skating together.

On competing in the 2002 Olympics: It was great. Honestly, it was a little bittersweet, because we had made the Olympic team and we were very proud of that – it was a great experience, of course – but at that time, things weren’t the best between the three of us, Tiffany, Karl and I. And it was a little strange. I felt that – I can’t speak for Tiffany or Karl, of course – but I felt that it could have been a better experience. And it has nothing to do with how we skated. We skated well there and we didn’t place that well. Irregardless of that, though, I felt that if things had been a little better emotionally between us we probably would have skated a little better and done better. But it was still a great experience.

On being an older skater and in charge of organizing his own skating:  It does make things a lot more difficult when you are trying to fund your own skating, and train, and, you know, do everything yourself. I had financial support through the USFSA but that didn’t really come into play very much until we were much further along. Tiffany and I both waited tables, we taught skating, we did everything we could just to make ends meet. It definitely gave us a big appreciation for what we did. It was never a bad thing. You just have to work harder. It develops your character and, I don’t know, just makes you really appreciate everything a lot more.  From the time I was about 19 years old, I mostly paid for my own skating. Not because my parents didn’t want to, but really, they just couldn’t afford it any more and they were at their wits’ end financially.

About the Author
Yup, I’m a skating fan. But I’m a skater too. I compete nearly every year in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, and am always thrilled to see my other skating buddies there. In my real life I work in marketing for brands that make positive changes in the world, and a mom of two rambunctious boys.

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