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Ashley Wagner Stars on Ice 2019 Interview

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Photo by Robin Ritoss for Figure Skaters Online

I chatted with Ashley Wagner before the Chicago performance of Stars on Ice and got all the details on her new podcast, launching this summer! I was at the show reporting for Figure Skaters Online, and wrote a story for the site about our conversation:

Ashley Wagner doesn’t know what she’s doing.

She’s busy—coaching at seminars and the Skating Club of Boston, performing in Stars on Ice and other shows, commentating skating events for the Olympic Channel, documenting life on her new website and her Instagram account—but she doesn’t have a plan like she did when she was training for the Olympics.

It’s an unfamiliar spot for the three-time U.S. Champion, 2014 Olympic Team Bronze Medalist, and 2016 World Silver Medalist, but she says it is still an “exciting” time.

“I love writing, and documenting the transition from being a professional athlete into being whatever I’m going to be—people don’t talk about that enough and it’s a really scary, uncomfortable transition,” Wagner said during a pre-show interview before the Chicago performance of Stars on Ice in May. “I feel like in the past, for athletes, it’s kind of a shameful thing to talk about, but everyone goes through it. The more I talked to retired athletes about what it was like, the better I felt.”

So she’s launching a podcast exploring that concept, inspired by a quote from actress and comedian Gilda Radner, who said these types of transitions are full of “delicious ambiguity.” Wagner plans to launch the podcast this summer, after wrapping up the 2019 Stars on Ice tour.

Read the rest in the full story on Figure Skaters Online for more on Wagner’s podcast plans, new life in Boston, and commentary gigs. And there is more to come from my day at Stars on Ice – check back later in the week for a Q&A with Jason Brown!

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Ice Theatre of New York Spring Show Preview

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Theron James in “Presence” – Choreography by Deneane Richburg – Photo by Josef Pinlac – Image Courtesy ITNY

The Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) is the first nonprofit ice dance company in the United States, and their annual spring show takes place this Thursday, May 2. I previewed the performance for Figure Skaters Online, and talked with ITNY founder and artistic director Moira North, as well as guest performer and Olympian Misha Ge for the story.

Read the full story on the FSO site to hear more about the new pieces that will be performed in the show, and updates on Misha Ge’s growing choreography and coaching career in retirement:

Ice Theatre of New York Spring Show to Feature Misha Ge and Honor Gracie Gold


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Alex Krasnozhon Interview: Figure Skaters Online

2017 U.S. Junior Champion Alex Krasnozhon starts off his first full senior season today at Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, and I had a chance to talk with him before he headed to the competition. Here’s an excerpt from the article for Figure Skaters Online:

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Photo by Robin Ritoss, Courtesy Figure Skaters Online

 

Alex Krasnozhon is taking control of his career

For his short program this season, Alex Krasnozhon is skating to a song called “Dancing on My Own” by Calum Scott.

“It’s very emotional for me,” he says. “The whole idea is that a girl leaves a guy and he has this pain in the beginning of the program and doesn’t know how to handle it, and then he comes to the conclusion that here he is, dancing on his own, strong. He’s showing that he is hurt, but he is still staying strong and showing he is independent. I’m very excited about this program because I think if it’s done correctly, it can show a different side of my skating. It is going to be a season-long project to make it better each competition.”

The program is also a fitting metaphor for his first full senior season, which starts this week at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Last season ended with pain, when he sprained his ankle on the first jump of his free skate at the Junior World Championships, a quadruple Salchow, and had to withdraw from the event. After four months off the ice and an intensive physical therapy (PT) recovery program, Krasnozhon is back on the ice with new coaches, Aleksey Letov and Olga Ganicheva in Plano, Texas, and retooling his jump technique. Plus, he moved into his own apartment and says he is taking more ownership of his skating career, calling himself his own “manager.”

For more on Kraznoshon’s goals for the season—and what he likes to do off the ice—read the full article on Figure Skaters Online!


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Hubbell/Donohue Interview: Figure Skaters Online

Before the senior events at U.S. Nationals get going in San Jose tomorrow, one more preview article from Figure Skaters Online, with ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue:

For the past three years, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue have been the bronze medalists in the ice dance event at the U.S. Championships.

They finished third in the short dance at Worlds in 2017 before a disastrous fall on a twizzle in the free dance took them out of the medals.

They have qualified for the Grand Prix Final three years in a row, but missed the podium by less than a point in December.

This year, Hubbell and Donohue have had it with “almost.”

“I’m not here to get third place for the fifth time at Nationals, that’s not an option,” Donohue told reporters in a U.S. Figure Skating media call on Dec. 28.

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Image Source: Figure Skaters Online

Read the rest of the article on Figure Skaters Online for how Hubbell and Donohue plan to reach their goals at Nationals, and how they’ve changed their programs since the Grand Prix Final:

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue Set Sights on First U.S. Title


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Vincent Zhou Interview: Figure Skaters Online

It’s almost time…U.S. Nationals starts next week! The competition is earlier than usual this year, since the Olympics kick off on Feb. 8. In the remaining days before the competition begins in San Jose, the stars of U.S. skating sat down for interview calls with the media, and I got to participate in a few of them with Figure Skaters Online.

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Image Source: Figure Skaters Online

Here’s an excerpt from my story on Vincent Zhou, defending silver medalist in the men’s event:

Vincent Zhou was riding high at the end of last season. The 2017 U.S. silver medalist and World Junior Champion, 16-year-old Zhou was turning heads with his arsenal of quad jumps and sparking talk of an Olympic berth.

But that momentum didn’t quite carry over into his first full senior season. His Grand Prix showings were inconsistent, with a fourth place at Cup of China followed by a ninth place finish at Internationaux de France. He was second in the free skate in China, climbing back from eighth place after the short. But overall, it wasn’t the strong, consistent Zhou we saw at the end of last season.

“We didn’t obsess over what went wrong, because that can lead to negativity and lots of stress,” Zhou said in a U.S. Figure Skating media call on Dec. 27. “We just discussed with a clear mind changes to make based on how I was feeling. We realized we were pushing too hard.”

Read the rest of the article on Figure Skaters Online to hear how Zhou has adjusted his training going into Nationals and his goals for the competition:

After an inconsistent Grand Prix campaign, Vincent Zhou retools training for Nationals


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Tara Lipinski Interview: Figure Skaters Online

“Going into this Olympics in South Korea it feels very surreal [to be on the prime time broadcast team], but it’s also my 20th anniversary and feels like the start of this career that I’ve always wanted,” said Tara Lipinski, 1998 Olympic Champion. 

She was answering my question about her transition from skater to broadcaster, and the sometimes-difficult path that elite and Olympic athletes have when their competitive days are over. More on what Lipinski calls her second career, and which legendary commentator she looks up to, in my piece for Figure Skaters Online:

On 20th anniversary of her Olympic gold medal, Tara Lipinski looks ahead to new chapter