Pairs Team Vlassov and Meekins Announces Split

Julia Vlassov and Drew Meekins
Photo by Paul Harvath

(11/8/07) - U.S. pairs skaters Julia Vlassov & Drew Meekins today announced the end of their partnership. Their career highlights include the 2006 World Junior title, three medals at the State Farm U.S. Championships and a silver medal at the 2005 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final. Both skaters plan on looking for new partners immediately.

“I greatly regret that Julia and I will no longer be skating together,” Meekins said in an e-mailed statement. “The six years we have been together have been some of the happiest years of my life, and I am truly heartbroken that we will not get to build upon the memories and accomplishments that we have made.”

Both skaters pointed to their size difference as the main reason they are parting ways.

“In the new (judging) system, lifts and twists are worth a lot, more than any other element,” Vlassov said. “We're able to do them, but not at the highest level.”

The team paired up in 2002. Vlassov skated singles at the beginning of their partnership, winning U.S. juvenile and intermediate titles in 2003 and 2004, respectively. They have been coached from the beginning by Julia's father, Alexander, the European and World pairs silver medalist with Irina Vorobieva in 1977, and Julia's mother, Laura Amelina.

Their first taste of success came at the 2004 U.S. Championships, where they won novice gold. The next season they competed on the JGP Series for the first time, finishing first and third at their two assignments and qualifying for the JGP Final, where they took fourth. They concluded that campaign by claiming the silver medal at the U.S. Championships as juniors and recording a top-10 finish at the World Junior Championships.

Their best season came in 2005-06, when they medaled at every competition they entered: silver and bronze at their two JGP assignments, silver at the JGP Final, bronze at the U.S. Championships in the junior division and gold at the World Junior Championships.

They started the 2006-07 season well, taking silver at the Nebelhorn Trophy, but their transition to the senior level was a bit rocky. They finished fifth at the Cup of China, sixth at the NHK Trophy and, finally, seventh at the U.S. Championships.

Vlassov and Meekins were forced to withdraw from last week's Skate Canada after Meekins dislocated his shoulder while the pair was trying to execute a lift takeoff.

“I would like to thank my family, my friends, all of my fans and U.S. Figure Skating for their support throughout the years and at this time,” Meekins said. “I also would like to thank Julia, Laura and Alex, who have not only been a great team to be a part of but have been like a second family to me, and to whom I owe everything. I wish them all the best of luck.”

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