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SHAWN RETTSTATT


thing and everything related to ice dance.” Tis includes education of officials, evaluation and assessment of officials and education of coaches. Tere is also regular communication with the ISU Development Commission about program and developmental ideas. “From the rules, program content, what


it is from year to year — from basic novice to senior and everything encapsulated within the whole world of ice dancing,” Rettstatt said. “We tweaked a lot this year. We progressed


the levels and the elements further with creating some new elements, increasing some of the dif- ficulty on the levels. Te goal is to do a bit more of a change in the first year of an Olympic cycle so that we can see what works, what the coaches and skaters really respond to, and what works for actual competition. Ten you try to tweak and change less and less as you get closer to the Olympics.” His own path to skating was a bit unusual. Te son of a minister, Rettstatt spent his child- hood moving to several different parishes, most of them in Texas. During a two-year period that the family lived in California, he took up skating. He was in the first learn-to-skate class at the Ice Capades Chalet in La Jolla.


While he tried singles and pairs skating, he


was more inclined to dance. When the family moved back to Texas, he kept skating at a rink in Dallas. Rettstatt grew to 6 feet tall, which basically ruined his jumps, but allowed him to focus on ice dancing. As he progressed, he moved away from home to get better training, including time in Delaware, which pushed him onto the national scene. Coach Sandy Hess in Detroit sought him


out to partner with Punsalan, and he thrived in that demanding training environment. Te 1988 U.S. Championships were in


Denver, and he remembers the packed small arena for the compulsory dances. He and Punsalan won every segment of the competi- tion, which was a delightful shock. Junior dance finished midweek, and they spent the rest of the competition enjoying themselves and watching the seniors rev up for the upcoming Olympics. “We got to do the exhibition, which was crazy cool in an Olympic year,” he said. He moved with Hess to Colorado, where he finished his competitive days training at the Air Force Academy. His final competition was the 1990 Olympic Festival in Minneapolis with Jennifer Goolsbee. “I’m a big believer in timing, and every- thing happens for a reason,” Rettstatt said. “As long as you’re open to the journey, things will work out.”


After moving to New York City to attend


New York University, where he earned a bach- elor’s degree from the Tisch School of the Arts film program, Rettstatt contacted the chair of the U.S. Figure Skating Judges Committee, Gale Tanger, to express his interest in judging. By the 1991 U.S. Championships, he was trial judging. He was also recruited by U.S. pairs and


men’s champion Ken Shelley to get involved in Te Skating Club of New York (SCNY). Rettstatt became president of the SCNY, sat on several U.S. Figure Skating committees, and ultimately served a term as a vice president of the association.


While former national competitors were fast-tracked in judging, Rettstatt has put in the time judging all kinds of competitions around the U.S. and then internationally. He has risen to the level of national judge and Olympic-level judge, referee and controller. “You’re doing it for the skaters,” he said.


“You’re not doing it for your personal advance- ment. You’re doing it to benefit the sport. I feel as long as you keep that as your focus, then it’s completely rewarding and will always be that way.”


Rettstatt said it’s crucial to never stop learning. Te system keeps growing, changing and enhancing, and judges and officials must keep abreast. He constantly challenges himself, and uses moments of disagreement with other judges and officials as learning opportunities. It certainly has been interesting to witness the shift in ice dancing to North American prominence. “When I competed, it was a harder reality


because the process was you had to wait your turn,” Rettstatt said. “It was a bit more political in the U.S. and internationally. Te creation of the international judging system, the growth of the coaching community in the U.S., and the strength of the judging community over the years was the sum of all that helped propel ice dancing in North America.” At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in So- chi, he judged both the ice dancing in the team event and the ice dancing competition. “I took time before each event would start


to take it all in, reflect and be thankful,” he said. “It was amazing skating. As the two weeks progressed from the team event to the individual event, the level of actual performances contin- ued to get better and better. It was phenomenal to be a part of it.”


As a member of the technical committee, he cannot judge internationally, so he serves as referee or controller. Skating continues to inspire him. He loves the progression of the sport, and still finds it exciting to watch. Te talent is phenomenal, and simply watching lifts, twizzles and step sequences is interesting. Skating played a huge role in Rettstatt’s


personal life. He met aspiring judge Leonar- do Chavez at the 1996 U.S. Championships. Tey married in 2012. Chavez is the global brand president of Maybelline New York. Te travel demands of his job limit his judging, but Chavez has judged at the U.S. Championships. Attending competitions together always leads to good conversations. After many years as the general manager of a boutique hotel in New York, in 2014 Rettstatt launched Selected Escapes, a hotel representa- tion company for luxury, high-end boutique hotels all over the world. Te company links the hotels to luxury travel agents in North America. “We are the boots on the ground for these


luxury hotels in the North American market,” Rettstatt said. “We bridge the hotels to the agents.”


Tere is work, home life and an ongoing


love of skating. Rettstatt is committed to seeing the sport become stronger and more dynamic in the years ahead. “It’s been cool,” said Rettstatt, who still laces up and skates a few times a year. “I’ve been completely blessed by the whole experience. It has been rewarding and enriching. Te bottom line is I enjoy it.”


SKATING 9


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