Biz & Hugo
29 July 2018
Did you know?
Google search results may reveal a lot about your favorite music guy but they can’t possibly tell you everything.
My knowledge of him is quite unique. We play important roles in each other’s careers, from when we were elite athletes to our professional lives today. I’m Elizabeth Hollett Shackett and I skated with the founder of Studio Unisons a.k.a. Sk8mix, Hugo Chouinard.
We first met in Boucherville, Québec in post-Olympic 1988. We were training with different partners in ice dance. Québec in the nineties was surging with elite skaters in suburban Montréal and we were part of it.
Our partnership was unexpected because I had quit skating and moved back to my hometown of Hawkesbury, Ontario. This after fruitless partner tryouts around Canada, some interest from the U.S. followed by a short partnership that left emotional wounds after my other half quit skating at 6:30am on my 16th birthday. Hugo’s former partnership amicably ended and he was in pursuit of a new path. Friend and fellow skater, Bruno Marcotte, convinced him to connect with me for a tryout. We formed our partnership in late spring of 1991.
We spent two intense months after pairing up preparing for our first competition, the World Junior Team selection event. Given our National level experience with former partners, we knew how to sharpen our focus to merit wearing the coveted maple leaf and represent Canada. We quickly rose to the International stage by placing 2nd in the Team selection. Only one berth was open to Junior Worlds that season so we were named team Alternates but assigned a Junior Grand Prix competition in Germany where we medaled. That was only 5 months into our partnership. We were launched!
Pokal der Blauen Schwerter Chemnitz GERMANY 1991
We made the 1993 Junior World Team the following season, competed more internationally and had a podium finish at Canadian National Championships. We also won the Bull Computers Future Stars Award for best performance in ice dancing at Nationals. Junior skaters weren’t “supposed” to win that accolade.
National Championships Hamilton CANADA 1993
Known for our passion for music and collaborative work ethic, we just “clicked.” We surrounded ourselves with an equally passionate support team consisting of Canadian Hall of Fame coaches Josée Picard and Eric Gillies, choreographers like Uschi Keszler, Jean-Marc Généreux, Julie Marcotte, and Paul Duchesnay. We dabbled outside the 90’s ice dance box working with Hugo’s childhood coach, David Wilson, who was just starting to make a name for himself as a choreographer then.
Echos Vedette Montréal French Newspaper 1991
Like most elite athletes, we cherished our individual outlets to the daily grind. Hugo’s unknowingly planted his roots to music design back then. He began editing our programs because the best service in town was typically on back order. He was definitely into buying the newest technology more than the after-training hours we spent listening to music and negotiating what to use. For me, I found escape in creativity. I kept a writing journal in both French and English and loved to choreograph programs for other skaters.
The Studio 1996
We parted ways with our own elite skating but didn’t stray far from design, creativity, language, and of course, figure skating. Hugo spent 15 years coaching ice dance and partnering skaters. He also spent 4 years coaching and choreographing synchronized skating while completing a University Degree in Industrial Design. As for me, it’s been 20+ years that I coach and choreograph grassroots to elite skaters in singles, pairs and dance in suburban Philadelphia and in Delaware. While we live in different countries, we are still a team… several years ago; Hugo called on me to translate his bustling online music design service website from French to English giving it a global boost. Did I mention I also do freelance translation work? We have been collaborating now for 27 years!
Hugo and I are both married and each have a single child. Their fathers’ love of music influence their lives. His son, Olivier Chouinard, is a budding pianist. My daughter, Meryl Shackett, plays drums. My husband plays in a rock band called DeadSight besides being a Mechanical Engineer. Both kids have set foot on the ice. Olivier has tried speed skating. Meryl currently skates pairs with Matthew Kennedy striving to make Team USA. Can you guess who their music designer is?
Oh and one last scoop… Hugo’s real name is Pierre-Hugues 😉
Written by Elizabeth Hollett Shackett Creativeskating.com