Matchmakers choreograph ice magic
GENE STEPHAN, The West Australian
29th November 2003

ICE dancers Danika Bourne and Alexandre Pavlov have overcome the barriers of language and distance to form one of the best figure skating combinations in Australia.

She grew up in sunny Queensland, he in the snowfields of central Russia - until fate brought them together in Perth in April last year.

And now the pair are aiming for the opportunity to represent Australia at the world championships in Dortmund, Germany, next year after Pavlov becomes a permanent resident.

Six months after their first training session together, they won silver at the Australian championships.

If they win a gold medal at next week's nationals in Brisbane, they will compete in the Four Continents tournament in Hamilton, Canada, in January and the world championships.

Pavlov, 25, had an established international career as a member of the Russian team, dancing with his twin sister Elena before she turned professional.

Bourne, 22, was a single figure skater but had competed in two world championships in synchronised skating.

Her dream was to compete in ice dance and she approached former Russian coaches Andrei and Maria Filippov in Perth to help her find a partner.

The Filippovs migrated to Perth in 1998 after coaching Olympic and world championship skaters in Russia. "They had a great reputation and results to match," Bourne said. "They've created a dance environment at the Cockburn Ice Arena which is the envy of other centres around the country."

Bourne was confident they could find her a suitable partner once they accepted her into their program.

Pavlov said he searched Russia and the world but found countries such as the United States and Canada impossible to consider because of visa difficulties. When the opportunity arose to dance with Bourne he had no idea what to expect - he could not speak English and knew nothing about Australia.

"The first time we stepped on to the ice it felt as if we had danced together for years," Bourne said.