Kansas City part of the big picture for Pfund and Santillan

Jessica Pfund and Joshua Santillan have each had successful pairs careers.  She finished as high as 5th in juniors and 10th in seniors at the US Championships with A.J. Reiss.  With Reiss she competed at two Junior Grand Prix events, placing 5th at JGP USA in 2012.  Santillan previously competed with Olivia Oltmanns with whom he placed as high as 6th in juniors and 11th in seniors at US Nationals.   They competed in four Junior Grand Prix events, finishing 7th at JGP Latvia in 2011.

When their partnerships ended, these two teamed up in 2015.  They quickly earned an assignment to the Skate Canada Autumn Classic last season where they won bronze and were a last minute replacement at Skate America where they finished 8th.  This season they competed at Cup of China, where they again finished 8th and at Lombardia Trophy where they finished 4th.  In their nationals debut as a team, they placed 7th last season.

With their long lines, ease on the ice, and big throw triples, this is definitely an up and coming team who are looking for long term success.

How did you two pair up? 

After the US Championships in Greensboro in 2015, Josh split with his previous partner and we scheduled a tryout.  Following a successful tryout in Florida, we had a second tryout in Colorado Springs, Josh’s old training base, and decided we were a perfect match.

What made you choose Florida to train?

Jessica moved here to Florida to train because of the high level of success that has come from the school in Ellenton.  Although it was a tough decision for Josh to move, it was easy to choose Jessica as a partner.

How would you describe yourselves as a team?

We work well together because our skills complement each other.  Jessica is a positive force that balances Josh’s perfectionist attitude.  We stay organized and prepared so that we can take whatever is thrown our way.  These complementary attitudes help us gel and work together.

Tell me about yourselves outside of skating?

Pfund (JP): At the end of the skating day I like to come home and unwind.  I’m currently in online school and when I’m not busy burying my face in books, I like to go to the beach, play with my dog, and spend time with friends and family.

Santillan (JS): Right now I’m working on my business degree, with a minor in information systems management.  I also wait tables at a local seafood restaurant.  My interests include sports and comedy.  I really like basketball and if I ever have the opportunity, you’re sure to find me on the court.

Josh – one of your favorite teams was the St. Louis Rams, do you still root for them now that they’re in L.A.?

JS: I’m sad to say that yes, I do root for them.  The team has a recent history of losing and they haven’t had a winning record or made the playoffs in over a decade.  Still, I have always rooted them because of their roots in L.A.  I’m from southern California and we never had a football team while I was growing up, but we did have the Rams that were historically from LA.  Their move back just solidified my fandom and I hope one day they can become relevant again.

Tell me about your programs this season.

For our short program we skate to Purple Rain.  We use Prince’s original version, mixed with one that we found from a contestant from X-Factor.  While some people are skating to Prince this year as a tribute, we actually chose this music before his death.  Jessica took fondly to his artistic style after watching the movie Purple Rain.  This year we had our short choreographed by Emilie Connors.  Emilie has previously competed in both dance and pairs.  She competed both domestically and internationally, representing Team USA.  It was a different experience having choreography from someone in a dance background, and we feel that it has helped us grow as a team and experiment with different choreography.  We really feel like the music builds along with the choreography and we’re excited at the growth it shows in us this season.

For the free skate we chose Madonna’s version of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina from Evita.  Compared to last year’s free skate to Polovstian Dances, we really feel like this music is easy for us to relate to.  Lyndon, our head coach, did the choreography.  It was nice having the choreography done by our primary coach because he understands our skills and what we like.  Nonetheless, he wasn’t scared to take us out of our comfort zone and challenge us.  Still, it was great that we were able to have so much input while the program was created.  Because we took a part in the creation, we have a deep sense of ownership and feel like we have a strong connection with the choreography, interpretation, and the music in general.  We are really excited to show how far we’ve come this year with our programs.

What is the most difficult element for you in your programs?

The great part about our programs is that we don’t really have anything in it that we consider difficult.  The triple twist isn’t ready yet, so it isn’t in the program; otherwise that might be the hardest element for us.  Getting through a program with elements we are completely comfortable with is still a challenge, but there isn’t one we would single out as difficult on its own whatsoever.

What is your favorite element to complete?

JP: I like throw triple salchow because I feel really comfortable with it and I am usually able to execute it with ease.

JS: I like triple salchow because it’s an element we typically perform well and is within our comfort zone.  The closeness and unison we have on this element I feel is unmatched in the whole world and I’m proud of that.


You earned international assignments pretty early into your partnership. Were you surprised with how quickly you gelled as a team and the success you had right off the bat?

We wouldn’t really describe our quick success as surprising.  From our first tryout, we knew that we had a lot of capabilities.  Still, it was a big surprise to receive a Grand Prix assignment our first year together.  Although our results haven’t quite risen in the same manner they did last year, we can see how much we’ve developed and how far we’ve come in our second season.

You competed at Cup of China this season. How was it different competing on the Grand Prix as a second year team?

Competing at Skate America last year was really cool because we got to perform in front of a home crowd.  However, it was an awesome experience to go overseas and perform for enthusiastic fans in Beijing.  China is home to a history of recent pair greats and it was an honor to meet Hongbo Zhao while we were there.  Since we are still relatively unknown on the international scene, it is nice to compete with little to no pressure at these Grand Prix events.  Hopefully in the future we can move up in rankings and compete for the podium on the Grand Prix.

As a team, you have one of the most intense schedules in the sport, balancing school, full time jobs and training. How do you find time to make it all work?

Well, Josh is the only one of us who works full time.  Jessica works at the rink teaching learn to skate classes, but not full time.  This year is the first that Josh has moved to full time credit hours in school, because of scholarships he received, which has proven to be burdensome.  However, thanks to some funding we’ve been able to acquire, Josh has toned down the working hours just a little bit so that he can make time for school and skating.  Staying busy keeps our minds sharp and almost gives us an advantage at competitions; if we can train while working all the time and doing school work, we can certainly compete with none of that on our minds.

You’ve talked before about the difficulties with finding funding to advance your training. I often find that the steep financial costs of skating is an issue that doesn’t get discussed. Why do you think that is? What does it mean to you that you’ve been so successful with less resources?

The financial side of skating doesn’t get discussed often because everybody has to deal with it.  Having high expenses in our sport is not unique and we’re certainly not the only ones in this position.  Since we’ve reached our level of success with less resources than others, we feel like once we’ve acquired more resources that we’ll be able to soar to even further heights.  One of our short-term goals is to get into Team B for USFSA’s funding.  This would allow us to receive what is known as PET funding from the International Olympic Committee.  Although this wouldn’t solve all of our problems, or fund our skating completely, it would ease our responsibilities.  The clearest path to this is to place top 5 at the US Championships.  Whether that happens this season or in another season, we feel like this can help guide us higher in rankings and further our skills.

Have you made any changes to your programs for nationals?

We’ve adjusted some of our transitions, mostly in the free program, to make our elements a little easier and more comfortable.  The biggest change we’ve made is that we changed our opening jump from a three-jump triple toe combination to just a plain triple toe.  While this moves our combination to the second half in the form of a triple salchow + double toe combo, it helps us relax and makes the opening of our program much less of a challenge than it was before.  We feel like if we can open with a strong set of side by side solo triples that we can set the tone for a great program.

What are your goals for nationals? For next season?

First and foremost, we don’t allow ourselves to make placement based goals.  We can only affect our own skating and if we skate perfectly and we get last place, we’ll still be very happy with our performance.  Almost anything we do in the free program will be better than what we did last year.  Even at Cup of China where we took three falls and had no value for our death spiral, we scored 95 points.  100+ in the freeskate is easily attainable and it’s well within our range.  Ultimately, we want to show the progress that we’ve made this year and how much our interpretation and leveled elements have improved from last season.

We haven’t sat down and made goals for next season, but we know that getting a Grand Prix event will be more difficult next year because we didn’t put out a good season’s best mark this year.  With that being said, we want to skate well in the summer so that we can be considered for Skate America and perform well at any Senior B’s we receive so that we can be put in the pool for a potential replacement pick.  Our goals aren’t year to year and it’s incredibly narrowminded to treat each season separately.  Instead, we treat each season as a part of our overall career that hopefully ends in Olympic glory.  Just as how we do at nationals doesn’t define our whole season (after all, we had a great season last year, despite a poor showing at nationals), one season doesn’t define our career.  We’re looking at the bigger picture and the constant state of improvement is the only path we desire to go down.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

Together we’ve made our own website, www.Joshica.net.  We keep it updated with videos and any pertinent information to upcoming events.  It was a lot of work to put it together, but we’re really pleased with how it looks.  We’ve also been keeping a blog on the site that we post on just about every month, so it’s a great outlet for skating fans to keep up with us.  We also have created a Gofundme; www.gofundme.com/joshica.  While it would be in the best interest of those who are so kind to contribute to us to use the New England Amateur Skating Foundation that we have posted on our website (http://joshica.net/supportus.html), it’s undeniably easier and more convenient to use Gofundme.  Hopefully our skating can be fully funded in the future, so that we can focus our efforts more wholly on skating and not worry about some of the other stuff that gets in the way.  It’s amazing how many people have already shown an interest in our skating and we hope that our performance at the US Championships will help us reach even more people and gain new fans.  It’s such an awesome feeling to perform in front of people who are rooting for us and truly appreciate the art that we are painting on the canvas of blank ice.



  1. […] Jessica Pfund & Joshua Santillan Ages: 19 & 24; 1/9/98 & 2/21/92 Training Town: Ellenton, FL Coach: Lyndon Johnston Choreographer: Lyndon Johnston, Emilie Connors SP: “Purple Rain” by Stacy Francis and Prince FS: “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (from Evita) performed by Madonna Notes: This is their second season together. The “Ice Musings” blog featured a pre-Nationals interview with them: Link to read. […]