Let’s Talk Nam Nguyen and the breakup of the Cricket Club Brothers

posted in: Figure Skating | 19

It’s finally come to an end. This weekend we said goodbye to the 2015/2016 figure skating season. I’m sure this is the first of many season wrap up posts.

I’ll talk more about the Team Challenge Cup later but the main thing I want to discus today is Nam Nguyen. I have been Nam’s biggest cheerleader this season. I was outraged at his treatment at Skate Canada and then frustrated when Skate Canada dropped him at Nationals only to remember he had better scoring potential than Liam only a few weeks later. I then cheered for Nam live at Worlds only to see him crumble.

This has been a rough season for this youngster. There’s no denying that. He was 5th at Worlds in 2015 and then didn’t make the FS this season. That’s rough. This continued when we saw him skate abysmally this weekend (but that prom proposal was adorable!).

Now we have official confirmation that Nam is leaving Brian Orser and the Cricket Club and is moving to San Jose to train alongside Polina.

What went wrong and where does Nam go from here??

There’s 3 things different for Nam between this season and last:

  1. Nam has grown a ton. I don’t know how much but this boy keeps getting taller and taller. In the Cricket Club picture before Worlds he was as tall as, if not taller than Dylan Moscovitch. That’s not mentioning how he towered over Yuzu and Javi. Naturally, this has affected his jumps and consistency. This is the most difficult obstacle to overcome for many young skaters.
  2. As a result, we haven’t seen spicy Nam. Last year Nam was confident and cocky. There was no hesitation when he took to the ice. He knew he could do it and he almost always did. This led him to his National title and fabulous Worlds placement. This has been missing all season. The confidence is gone.
  3. Last season Nam came across almost cocky because that was the character he was playing in both his programs. La Strada and Sinnerman were perfect programs for him. This season his programs were too serious and too dramatic. They were more classical in nature. These programs failed to hide some of Nam’s weaknesses, which the previous years programs had done so well.

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After failing to make the podium at Nationals and failing to qualify for the FS at Worlds Nam must have been frustrated. Really, he had two options:

  1. Stick it out at the Cricket Club
  2. Make a coaching change

We now have confirmation that Nam has chosen the second option. I can’t say I’m thrilled by this decision; I love the Cricket Club and rather dislike Polina, but I don’t want to give up on Nam quite yet.

Now the nature of this decision leaves me with a few questions: How long has this move been brewing? Was it Nam’s choice? Did Brian dump him? Had something happened at the Cricket Club? Is he simply in love with Polina?

Let’s talk through this: does Nam think his struggles have been a growth issue or a coaching issue?

I’m a big fan of the Cricket Club and Brian Orser. I fell in love with Nam when he joined the Cricket Club team. The Cricket Club brothers are everything. However, I think I always knew this was too good to be true. Regarding Yuzu and Javi; as adorable as they can be together, I can’t imagine Worlds has made their training situation any easier. There was a lot of talk after Worlds that Yuzu should leave Brian because it seems his focus is more on Javi. But, irrelevant of Javi, I think the Cricket Club is the best training facility for Yuzu and has the best coaches and choreographers and support for him right now. This would not be available to the same extent in Japan. But back to Nam, all of this is everything that brought Nam to the Cricket Club, it seemed a perfect fit. Except for one thing: Nam is not a World Medalist. How many people now train in Toronto? So many! It’s crowded. Brian, Yuzu and Javi have attracted skaters from around the world as well as the majority of the Canadian team. And no matter who you are or what you do, you’ll always be in the shadow of Yuzu and Javi. While that has to be inspiring to be on the same ice as the World and Olympic Champion, it must also be difficult to get noticed. Now imagine all of this for Nam. He was riding a high after last season but then he grew. Suddenly he was struggling and while I think his coaching team would have been very helpful through this it must have been difficult for Nam to stay motivated and work to overcome this. It must have been frustrating to struggle while everyone around you was landing jumps. Instead of motivating I could see the situation being extremely hard. Getting out of this environment going somewhere with a little less intensity might seem like a good choice. Finding somewhere you can be the star is completely reasonable. Nam was Skate Canada’s star last season, but this season he was overshadowed, both in Canada and at the Cricket Club.


There’s one option here that I haven’t discussed. What if, amidst all this Nam’s frustration led to lack of training and he became difficult. What if there was a clash between him and his coaches? What if he developed an attitude amidst all this and his coaching situation no longer worked. What if his training and work ethic changed and he no longer fit in? What if someone in Toronto no longer wanted to work with him? I’ve read rumours online that something of this nature happened, but as that’s just a rumour I don’t want to dwell on it.

I think Nam needs a summer of good solid training. I think he needs time to learn to accept and adjust to his new body. I do think the majority of his problems this season were a result of this and I think he will get his jumps and consistency back but I don’t know if Nam sees it that way. I think he might be blaming his coaching situation more than he should for his season. I think the Cricket Club would have turned him into the best skater he could be if he had given it more time. But sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometime you do need a change of scenery to spark something in you. Sometimes a change can be the best motivator.

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I don’t know a lot about David Glyn. To me this seems like a bit of a step down after training with world class coaches in Toronto. But for some reason Nam has made this decision. The one positive I can see is that both him and Polina are long and lanky, so perhaps he can make Nam look less awkward on the ice. I hope this isn’t just because Nam is in love with Polina, because even though I love a good love story, I don’t love this one enough for it to break up the Cricket Club brothers. I’m heartbroken this is the end of the Cricket Club trio. Their competition antics and numerous photos together are everything

So Nam, I don’t fully know why you’ve made this choice. I’m still saddened by it. I’m going to miss you being a member of #TeamCricketClub. I’m going to miss you telling me through Instagram that Yuzu is in Toronto. But I haven’t given up hope. Please show me this change was for the best. I want to see spicy Nam next season. I want to see you be competitive with Shoma and Boyang next season. I wish you all the best.

I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks.

Till next time!
– Justine Alyssa

19 Responses

  1. Christianne

    I’m thinking, “Polina’s coach. Really? ‘Cause Glynn is doing great with Polina… right? 😞
    I wish Nam luck and happiness

    • Justine Alyssa

      I agree. I just want what’s best for Nam. I’m just not sure this is what’s best for him right now.

  2. Best wishes for Nam in his new move, I hope he regains his confidence and does well next season. Maybe the new change of scenery will help. I know nothing about Glyn except that he doesn’t have a lot of star pupils or hyped new up and comers, so maybe he’ll be able to provide more attention to Nam. Attention that he might want and need. No offense to Brian, he’s a great coach at a great facility, but I feel like he’s spread himself a bit too thin with taking on too many students. I will miss the trio of Yuzu, Javi and Nam.

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I also really hope Nam regains his confidence. I love Brian, so much, but he might be trying to do too much right now.

  3. A coaching change at this stage in a young skater’s career isn’t all that unusual. To be sure, the Cricket Club brought Nam a long way. It was the right place for him at that particular time in his skating career. But now he needs something different. Maybe it’s a case of Nam needing to be in a situation where he is the “leading man”. There’s no way he could get that in the Orser camp; he would always be cast in the role of Yuzu and Javi’s younger brother.

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I agree, it’s become quite crowded at the Cricket Club. Hopefully getting away and being more in the spotlight is just what he’ll need to regain his confidence.

  4. Hi Alyssa, I want to share your sadness about Nam leaving TCC. I don’t know why their relationship stopped going well this season. Nam surely is a promising Canadian skater, and Brian seems to have cherished him more than else. For example, Brian has been invited to the Japanese summer show FaOI for the past years. When he got an offer, he didn’t want Nam to be alone at TCC, so the FaOI invited Nam also and they came together to Japan. He denied leaving Nam even for two weeks or so.
    But the reality is Nam couldn’t cope with his sharply growing body and lost his consistency. Further, his skating skill doesn’t seem to be developing so much this season, although Brian talks about the importance of SS with skaters. If he could improve his SS more, he would get more PCS.
    Anyway, I just wish the best of luck to Nam and the change will work well. There is enough time before Olympics! He’s a talent!

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thank you for the comment! I hadn’t heard that story about Brian, Nam and FaOI. That’s really cute. I agree, Nam’s skating skills have not improved recently, which is odd as some of the other skaters at the TCC have improved their basic skating tremendously. Here’s hoping a change of scenery will work out for the best!

  5. I think its a good move for Nam. He need a coach who can pay attention at him most of time, thing that Brian can’t do right now. After a rough season, changing to different environment can help him regain his confidence. I hope this works for him.
    As for Yuzu, I don’t think he should leave Brian, its too late now, since its only 1.5 season till Olympic. But I feel he need another coach along with Brian, a Japanese coach, who will watch over him when he train in Japan and help him in term of mentality, because Yuzu always feels more comfortable when he talks in his mother language. But whatever happen, I will always support his decisions 🙂

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I’m trying to be positive. Here’s hoping a new environment and the full attention of a coach is exactly what he needs. I wish him the best!
      As for Yuzu, I agree. I think he should stay with Brian but he might needs to reconsider how much time he spends there. Either try and be in Toronto more, where he has a supportive coaching team, or, as you mentioned, have a coach with him when he’s in Japan. Either way, I wish him the best!

  6. Skating Fan

    Nam already had a coach dedicated to him at the Cricket Club. His name was Ernest Pryhitka, but for some reason Nam was always too focused on Brian and earning Brian’s affirmation. I observed this early on in the season in the kiss and cry at the Autumn Classic International. I thought it was unhealthy to idol worship Brian great as he is. Nam needs to learn to skate for himself. This will come with maturity. All the best for Nam with his new coaching situation .

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I know I probably should have mentioned Ernest here, he did a lot of good things for Nam. It’s very interesting what you say regarding Nam idolizing Brian. I could see that being true. Hopefully the new coaching situation will help him grow both as a skater and as a person.

  7. I’m curious. In the “going to worlds” picture I don’t recognize the lady next to Javi or the man on the far right. Does anyone know who they are?

    It’s worth noting that 4 of the skaters I recognize have Brian/Tracy as their main coach, while 3 don’t. Alaine has two other coaches who spend more time with her than Brian does (one in Ottawa and Michell Leigh in Mississauga/Oakville), Lubov/Dylan have Lee Barkel and Bryce Davison, Gaby has Lee Barkel

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! The other two in the photo are Sonia Lafuente and Javier Raya, both Spanish skaters who train at the Cricket Club.

      I think it’s a very interesting coaching dynamic at the coaching club. It seems most skaters have multiple coaches. Brian and Tracy have the highest status as coaches but only work with some skaters part time. There are other coaches that are actually the main coach for them, like Gabby and Alaine and even Nam. I think the Brian/Tracy combo are only the main coaches for Yuzu and Javi (someone correct me if I’m wrong here).

      • Thank you for the ids.

        Based on skater bios, Brian/Tracy were “first” coaches for Nam and Javi, and the only listed coaches for Elizabet T and Yuzuru. For other skaters, other coaches were listed before Brian/Tracy. Brian is not listed as a coach for the two Spanish skaters you identified for me. Their coach is listed as Ghislain Briand.

  8. Forget the rumours. Nam is young and talented but has to deal with the huge growth spurt that truly effects his jumps. While I appreciate a change of scenery might help temporarily he had much more clout, skill and experience with Orser and team plus he was competiting with the best. I think he should have stuck it out; it takes time to mold oneself into a champion and hardwork. Sadly I do think the move was guised as love (inftuation) with Polina. Love, lust, infatuation fades often quickly especially teenage love/lust. Skate Canada and his parents should have put their foot down. I am not very confident about this but now Nam has to prove his detractors wrong. And he has to re prove and re dedicate himself after that disaster of a season to the point it wouldn’t have matter had Liam skated. I wonder if Nam might get dumped – but good skating and he will need to regain his jumps and gain artistically to have much of a hope of moving up. I am not overly confident. But mind you even a horrific Chan is miles better.

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I agree with almost everything you said. I feel there was some improvement at the US Classic this week. I hope it’s a step in the right direction. I really hope Skate Canada hasn’t given up on him yet.

  9. I really don’t think Nam made the choice based on “love.” I believe he takes his skating more seriously than that. Plus, I think he mentioned in an interview that asking Polina to prom was Gracie Gold’s idea (she and Daleman made the sign) after she heard that Polina wouldn’t be able to go to her own prom because of Stars on Ice. (I know this is months old, but I just discovered this page now and I thought it would be worth pondering. Here’s hoping for a much spicier season!)

    (P.S. Like I said, I just discovered this page, but I love it so far!)

  10. Toronto Cricket

    You love the cricket club because you don’t know anything about it. As someone who trained there at a senior level for 3 years I can yell you it is by far one of the worst places to train unless you are Javi or Yuzu. The coaches care only about those two because they feel that they will bring them the most fame and fortune. Tracy and Brian, no doubt they were exceptional champions, however as coaches they are frauds and hacks.

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