Oltmanns and Santillan up the technical ante, plan to show improvement at nationals

Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan began skating together in September of 2009 and are coached by her mother, Trudy.  Since teaming up, they have competed at two nationals and three Junior Grand Prix events.  They placed 7th at JGP Latvia and 11th at JGP Austria earlier this season and are looking to improve on their 11th place finish at nationals last season.  Despite their experience, they are still a young team (she is 14 and he is 19) and have another year of junior eligibility internationally.

Santillan talked to me about pulling double duty in singles and pairs (he finished 7th in Junior Men at Midwestern Sectionals), competing on the Junior Grand Prix and preparations for nationals.

Tell me about yourself outside of skating.
I enjoy spending time in the gym, rollerblading, and playing basketball. I also like to play Call of
Duty in my free time.

How would you describe your skating to someone who had never seen you skate before?
I really enjoy skating pairs because I feel like I am so capable of complimenting another skater. I enjoy my role of presenting my partner, rather than being the main attraction.

You compete in both singles and pairs.  What advantages do you think you gain in pairs by also competing in singles?
Pairs is definitely my main focus. The great part about skating singles this year was that it was just for fun. There was no pressure and I was able to perform my best, without any concern over the result. Skating singles this season helped me understand how to skate without feeling pressure. I learned to put things into perspective and that if I just perform, the results will play themselves out.

Are there any new technical elements that you’ve added this season or anything in particular you’ve been focusing on?
This year we’ve really been pushing the consistency of everything. The throw toe and sal[chow] are much more consistent than last season and we’ve also added the loop to our repertoire. We’re one of the only junior teams with a level four lift in the short program and we’ve also added side by side triples into the freeskate.

You had the opportunity to compete in two Junior Grand Prix events this season.  What did you learn from that experience?
Competing internationally is always really fun. Our results in Latvia were better than [in] Austria, but regardless of this, both events were fun. Some might find it intimidating to go up against the best skaters in the world. I however, like to make friends with my competitors from other countries. It’s also really exciting to get to see how different people are around the world and I really enjoy each event more than the last.

You call your partner Olivia a big influence on your life.  Do you think a strong relationship off the ice makes for a better partnership on the ice?
Olivia and I spend a lot of time together, both on and off the ice. I think that all this time together helps us understand and relate to each other on the ice.

What are your goals for nationals?  How do you hope nationals will set you up for your short term and long term goals as a skater?
Our goal for nationals is to go out and compete our very best. I think that if we can just go out there and put our best effort forward, we’ll be happy. We plan on spending another season at the junior level so hopefully our results at nationals can impress the members of the selection committee enough to put us on the JGP circuit again. Long term this could help set us up for success at the senior level, which is of course the ultimate goal.

Is there anything else you want people to know?
I’m geared and ready for nationals and can’t wait to show off how improved we are.