In preparation for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, WBBM’s Rick Gregg spoke with experts in each of four sports in a series of interviews for Today: Collin Brubaker, a former Team USA Ice Dancer and National Medalist who is now a skating coach in the western suburbs.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Collin Brubaker and his partner, Alissandra Aronow, finished in ninth place in the ice dancing competition at the US Figure Skating Championships in 2014. That’s an impressive finish!

The champions and future gold medalists, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, nearly doubled Brubaker and Aronow’s score.

“They were in a league of their own,” Brubaker said. “It wasn’t an uncommon thing for them to blow people out of the water by 30, 40, 50 points.”

gettyimages 506304404 Gregg: Ice Dancing   Choctaws, Mohawks, And More

ST PAUL, MN – JANUARY 22: Alissandra Aronow and Collin Brubaker compete in the Short Dance at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championship on January 22, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

They are gone from competition now, but Brubaker learned quite a bit from pairing with the two. Lessons he applies as a coach, in the western suburbs.

“They found a way to make the most of everything, and not give up any points,” he said. “If you lose a half a point here, and one point there, by doing something silly, by making mental errors, by not holding a position long enough or having just a little slip of an edge…there’s just a small margin for error.”

Competitive ice dancers are nearly always paired for years, and challenge number one is putting a pair together. Both skaters have to be able to tolerate the ups and downs of their other half – nearly every hour of every day.

collinbrubaker Gregg: Ice Dancing   Choctaws, Mohawks, And More

Collin Brubaker (photo provided to WBBM)

“You spend so much time together,” Brubaker said – up to eight hours a day, five days a week. “You endure the journey of these ups and downs together. You’re pushing your body to the limits, day in and day out. Doing that with a person…that adds something extra. I’m not doing pushups by myself, someone’s sitting on my back while I’m doing push-ups. It’s one of those. But you have to say….even when I’m tired, I’m in a bad mood, I don’t feel good, we have a common goal. I have a responsibility. Professionalism is a huge thing.”

Brubaker also said longevity of a pair is extremely important, and that’s a good thing for Team USA. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers at Nationals in 2014, finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in 2018, and will represent the US in South Korea.

gettyimages 461835531 Gregg: Ice Dancing   Choctaws, Mohawks, And More

BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 11: Alissandra Aronow and Collin Brubaker skate in the free dance program during the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden on January 11, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

As for Brubaker, he’s hoping to develop the next class of ice dance champions.

“One of the first things that I’m looking for is that type of spirit, or big personality that comes out in a skater,” he said. “Because in dance, there’s no comfort zone where you can’t be afraid to push the boundaries. You have to explore all options with dance. And to a certain degree, especially from a guy standpoint, you have to have this sense of confidence about you. There is almost a certain degree of arrogance, because you have to look like you know exactly what you’re doing. And that’s what we’re trying to sell or portray to the judges. We’re selling our performance and the product that we’ve brought to the ice. That comes with energy, and attitude, and personality.”