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Coach Michelle Hong’s social media channels support skaters during the coronavirus pandemic

Coach Michelle Hong

Coach Michelle Hong; Photo by Lisa Kimura

Hey skaters and skating fans – I know I’m not alone in missing the ice these days (though it’s a small sacrifice to stay home so we can keep people safe and support essential workers). In looking for ways to stay in shape off the ice and add some variety to my workout routine, I found the fantastic Instagram account of Coach Michelle Hong (pictured), who you may know already from her videos with on-ice tips and off-ice workouts and stretching. Her video on stretches for spirals has become a favorite for me.

With so many people at home and off the ice, I asked her if she’d do an interview with me for Figure Skaters Online and we sat down to chat over Zoom. Here’s the story:

Coach Michelle Hong’s social media channels support skaters during the coronavirus pandemic

The rinks started closing in March, mandated by statewide shelter in place orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. With spring competitions and ice shows cancelled or postponed indefinitely, coaches and skaters alike searched for ways to stay in shape off the ice.

Some were scrambling—creating new off-ice programming and offering lessons or workouts on Zoom—but not Michelle Hong, a coach based at the Oakland Ice Center in Oakland, CA. Hong has been sharing skating-specific tips, exercises, and workouts online for four years, since 2016. She has a website, YouTube channel, and Instagram account called Coach Michelle Hong, where she shares free skating content for all ages and ability levels.

“Figure skating is notorious for being one of the most expensive sports, which excludes a lot of people who genuinely love skating and want to compete,” Hong told Figure Skaters Online in a Zoom interview. “Reflecting on how much harder and smarter I had to train just to remain a contender amongst my peers who had daily lessons and more training resources overall, [that] lit the fire behind my idea to be the first person to ever create a free online platform dedicated to empowering all generations of figure skaters and athletes through full tutorials and tips.”

Read the full story at Figure Skaters Online for more from Michelle about how skaters are reacting to her videos and what she’s doing to make skating more accessible for everyone. Thanks to Michelle for taking the time to chat with me!

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Favorite Pre-Season Coverage

I have been loving all the pre-season and early competition season coverage over the past few months–from Ice Network’s Glacier Falls video coverage to The Skating Lesson‘s “TSL on the Road” video series to Jackie Wong’s Japan Open play-by-play on his skating website, Rocker.

Among all the great coverage, two pieces in particular stood out to me:

  1. The Open Kwong Dore podcast interview with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
    I have a long-ish commute to work, so I google-searched “figure skating podcasts” in an effort to help pass the time. I was thrilled to happen upon this one, narrated by Canadian coach and commentator PJ Kwong. Have a listen to hear Kaitlyn and Andrew talk about how their programs for the season came together–including the intense storyline behind their “addiction” themed free dance. I particularly enjoyed hearing about their approach to the season, especially after they did not win the world title last year. They sound refreshed, enthusiastic, and determined. Their focus on reaching their full potential and contributing to the sport over specific results reminded me of interviews with Olympic Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
  2. The Skating Lesson’s video feature on World Pair Champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford

    Jenny and Dave of TSL describe this as “a journey from disappointment to domination.” The World Champs talk about overhauling their approach to competition after “wanting it too much” ultimately kept them from achieving an individual Olympic medal in 2014. Watch to learn more about the strategy that led to their undefeated season last year, as well as their thoughts on the return of Russian Olympic Champions Volosozhar and Trankov. The only thing missing was more coverage of Meagan’s summer wedding to the pair’s coach, Bruno Marcotte!

What other pre-season coverage do I need to check out before the Grand Prix gets in full swing?

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Social Skaters

With both the Grand Prix Final and the holidays over, I feel like there is a bit of a lull in the skating season. (Though U.S. Nationals are just around the corner, and Japan and Russia have already held their national championships with some interesting results. Click the links for recaps of both events from The Skating Lesson.)

Things might be quiet on the ice, but you can still keep up with your favorite skaters on social media. Here are my current favorites to follow on Instagram:

@TaraandJohnny: Photos and short videos from the “glimmer twins” of figure skating commentary, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.

@meryledavis: I love the inspirational quotes and beautiful images that Meryl Davis posts.

@charlieawhite: Cute pictures of Charlie White’s puppies. Enough said.

@starsonice: Not only does this account post behind the scenes images and video from the Stars on Ice show, but it also includes skaters’ birthdays, reminders about when skating is on TV, and competition results and kudos.

Who are your favorite skaters to follow on social media?