Former Olympian Elizabeth Punsalan coaches at the Detroit club. Evan Bates's U-M roommate, Charlie White, trains in Canton. White and his partner, Meryl Davis, also a U-M student, won the gold at last year's nationals and will compete again this month.
"You would think that this Bermuda Triangle of figure skating clubs would be super competitive, but the coaches are friends," says the Free Press's Barnas.
Which doesn't mean awkward situations don't arise. Recently, brother-and-sister ice dancers Madison and Keiffer Hubbell unexpectedly quit Ann Arbor for Detroit. Chesnichenko had given a lesson to Keiffer in the morning; a few hours later, on the way to the airport, he received a call from Nechaeva: the Hubbells had just announced they were leaving.
It's not uncommon for skaters to switch coaches, and Detroit has lately been picking up ice dancing pairs from other clubs. But the Hubbells had been with Nechaeva and Chesnichenko even longer than Samuelson and Bates. Everyone who knew them well, including Bates--who calls Keiffer Hubbell his best friend--was shocked.