Men aim to keep DWTS title for 2nd year

Matt Louie

Matt Louie

The male dancers in this year’s Dancing with the Stars hope to retain their title, building upon the success of last year’s winner, Paul Anderson.

The five men — James Christie, Lucas Koenig, Paul Loop, Matt Louie and Hoyt Skabelund — have been practicing numerous hours for Saturday night’s show at 7:30 p.m. at the Churchill County High School gym. Meanwhile, one of five female dancers — Tina Koenig, Cari Norcutt, Andrea Schell, Rochelle Tisdale or Melissa Waite — seeks to snare the coveted trophy and bragging rights for a year.

Presented by the Churchill County High School’s Fallon Swing Dance Team, DWTS pairs notable community figures who will try to outshine and outdance each other.

Nonrefundable tickets may be purchased at the high school office, Robertson & Koenig Optometry or Jeff’s Copy Express.

As with last week’s female contestants, the LVN spotlights the male dancers based on information provided in a questionnaire.

Christie, commanding officer of STRIKE at Naval Strike Air Warfare Center who has been a fighter pilot for almost 20 years, moved to Fallon in 2012. His family previously lived at Naval Air Station Lemoore (Calif.) and Newport, R.I.

Christie said his father served in the Army, which meant the family lived in many different locations, but his family roots are embedded in the Pacific Northwest.

To his admission, though, Christie said he has no dancing experience.

“I have, however, been watching dance all my life and enjoyed watching, filming and photographing my daughters perform the last 15-plus years,” he said, adding that his wife and daughter owe him “an eternity of gratitude” for him entering this year’s DWTS.

According to Christie, he is an introvert by nature, but this is daughter’s senior year.

“It means so much to her (Madellyn) that I participate. What father wouldn’t do this for his daughter?” Christie asked.

The Navy commander said he enjoys watching dance, and that this form of art has been a mainstay in his household for years.

“My wife went to college for dance and has passed the love of performance on to our daughters,” he said. “I have enjoyed watching them mature into beautiful dancers, but I have never felt the desire to join them.”

As for his competitors, Christie is not thinking about them; instead, he is concentrating on the challenge before him. Christie said he is not thinking about the others involved in this competition.

“In many regards, this is more daunting to me than landing on an aircraft carrier at night,” he explained. “So long as I don’t trip up my daughter and she’s happy with my performance, this will be a win.”

Although he is a man of many words, he offered very few in his questionnaire.

Yet, Koenig, a middle school music teacher who has lived in Fallon for 16 years, will do his talking on the floor.

He said his dancing experience is nonexistent, but he became familiar with DWTS when he saw a fellow music teacher compete.

“I went to DWTS to laugh at Mr. (Tom) Fleming one year,” he said. “It was fun. I believe he is now practicing his belly laugh just to pay me back.”

Koenig said he had never thought about dancing. In fact, Koenig said he prefers to listen to the music rather than follow the dancers.

The longtime Fallon music teacher, though, brushes off the fame that comes with the local DWTS.

“Famous is overrated,” he explained. “I like anonymity. Being on DWTS has made my life busier but still fun.”

Loop, a Churchill County Sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Investigation Division, came to Fallon in 1992 when he was still with the Navy. Originally from Nebraska, Loop considers himself a die-hard Husker fan.

Dancing came somewhat natural for Loop from his night club days of the 1980s, but now he considers DWTS the ultimate experience.

“DWTS has been exhilarating and challenging especially when you are dancing impaired,” he said, “I want to thank my wonderfully awesome dance partner, Tiffany Marshall, for making this such a great experience! I also want to say Jef Horne, you are the real “star.” You worked long hours to help some of the dance couples while still running your Dance Studio and getting ready to travel with Idaho for competition.“

For many years Loop said he has envisioned being on DWTS and considers it as a challenge when he remembers some of the greatest movies that featured dancing.

“My love for dancing comes from my “Footloose” spirit,” he said. “I know in order to be the very best I had to ‘Step Up’ my dance so I practiced about three hours a week for the last five weeks. “

Loop said he is wishing each of the “stars” nothing but the best in this year’s DWTS. Like many of them, he said DWTS has changed his life.

“When a person achieves something great, such as being the star from DWTS, there is an inner feeling of accomplishment which no one else could possible experience,” he added.

Louie is general manager for Louie’s Home Center. He moved to Fallon in 2008 and said he has enjoyed “every minute” of it.

“I grew up in Saint Helens, Ore., and had only spent a summer in Fallon before choosing to move here,” he said.

Louie claims he has many hours of dancing experience.

“I started in diapers with a few staggering steps that were the envy of other toddlers,” he pointed out.”In a few years I found myself in middle school, stepping away from the well defined boundary of the boys wall of the gym to center court to show everyone my skills.”

As he became older, Louie said he became bolder and finally asked a partner to dance with him. Because of that, he said his skills amazed his partner, causing tears of joy.

“Overall, my experience has been informal, but I believe my natural talent has been able enough to shine through in all occasions,” he added.

So far, Louie said DWTS has been a fantastic experience. He has also handed out autographs constantly reminds his fans that they will frame the autographs for their children. It has made some everyday chores more difficult.

“I was able to travel across town in a few minutes; however, I find an hour is what is needed now,” he said.

The joy overwhelms him as a dancer.

“For many nights I have laid my head down on my pillow with a tear in my eye because I had not been able to be a contestant in DWTS,” he said. “Now I find myself a rejuvenated person because I have the opportunity to walk on stage and show my brilliance in the form of dance.”

Louie said his competitors are great members of the community and terrific people.

“Any one of them will be a great second place finisher,” he said.

Skabelund, the Healthcare Administrator CEO at Banner Churchill Community Hospital, moved to Fallon in mid-August of 2014 from New Mexico where his family lived for the past 18 years. He grew up in northern Idaho and northeast Utah, and his wife, Carmen, hails from southeast Idaho.

Skabelund claims he has a solid background in dance.

“My mother taught me how to fox trot and as a teenager in our church youth group, we learned the basic of several dances including the Western Swing, the Jitterbug and the waltz, he said.

Being Banner’s CEO has been a plus for Skabelund in case he injures himself or his partner; however, he said a few close calls have occurred but nothing that required paramedics and an ambulance.

“My connections with the Emergency Department at the hospital hasn’t seemed to provide any comfort to my dance partner or our coach,” he pointed out, much to their chagrin.

Skabelund said he is in awe with the tradition of DWTS.

“Being new to Fallon, I had no idea that this event is as big as it is,” he said. ”Had I known, I may have declined given my lack of dancing agility and fear of placing my ego on life support.”

Besides growing up around the various forms of dance, Skabelund also studied the pros.

“I grew up watching John Travolta, Kevin Bacon, Michael Jackson, and most recently Napoleon Dynamite (my dancing idol!), yet my dancing was limited to church and high school dances (less than 40 hours lifetime),” he recollected.

Not knowing what the competition offers, he has this advice for them: “May the force be with you!”

Forever Keeps Photography either provided or took the photos of the male dancers.


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