With the 2011 U.S. Junior pairs title and 2012 U.S. Junior ladies silver to her credit, Ashley Cain has amassed three top 6 finishes in Junior Grand Prix events as a singles skater and competed for the first time as a senior skater at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, laying down strong programs and finishing a very respectable 12th in her senior debut (in a deep field). With enormous potential and strong skating skills and jumps, Ashley is certainly an up and coming young star. I had the chance to talk to her about her experience at U.S. Nationals, her goals for next season and her experiences in the skating world:
Q: To say you're a very strong jumper goes without saying, but what caught my eye about you at this year's U.S. Nationals was the artistic side of your skating - your free skate was beautiful! Who picked the "Ave Maria" music and who choreographed this program?
A: My choreographer, Scott Brown, sent me a few music choices for my long program last season. This version of "Ave Maria" was on the CD and I absolutely fell in love with it. I remember I was just skating around and when it came on, I just started making up steps to the music. This piece of music made me feel really happy and relaxed. Every time I skate the program I feel very peaceful.
A: This nationals was my first year as a senior lady and the whole atmosphere was completely different to anything I have ever experienced. It was such a great experience and I had so much fun. When I walked out of the tunnel to get onto the ice for my event, and almost every seat in the arena was full, I thought to myself," Wow I am finally here! I have watched this moment happen to so many other skaters and now it is finally my turn." That was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.
Q: I know a lot of skating fans were upset by some of the judging. What was the mood like backstage?
A: The mood backstage was very chaotic but laid back if that makes sense! What I mean by that was that I was able to just sit down and enjoy watching the group but around me the media was going crazy. After the long I was sitting with Gracie, and she had such an amazing performance. Sitting with her when she found out she won the silver, was very cool. It made me realize how much I want a moment like that one day. There is always so much media backstage, for the Senior events, I had to make sure to stay focused on myself prior to the event.
Q: What kinds of goals have you set for yourself for next season and beyond?
A: This upcoming season I have set many goals for myself. I want to make my programs more difficult and really challenge myself with my elements and artistry. I am working on triple flip/triple toe right now, and I want to be able to compete all season with this combination. This season I want to be more confident with my skating and not be so hard on myself. I know this season will be very challenging but I am willing to push through it!
Q: Will you be keeping either of your programs or going in a different direction?
A: I will be keeping "Ave Maria" for my long program this season. I really love this piece of music and me, Scott, and my coaches decided that it would be nice to keep this program and really grow with it. I have picked a flamenco piece for my short, and I am so excited to start on the choreography. It is a really fun and upbeat piece of music. I always like having a contrast between the two programs, each program tells a different story.
Q: What's your favourite jump and spin? Least favourite?
A: My favorite jump would definitely be triple loop! I am starting to love lutz and flip more now because we have changed the entrances, so it has made my technique better. I also really like trying triple/triples. My favorite spin is flying sit spin, which is funny because I used to be terrified of it. It was required for junior two seasons ago so I had to learn it. It was always a spin I pushed aside and never worked on but now I love it and it will be in both my programs this year. My least favorite jump is probably axel because you can Waxel big time! I have done so many waxels(when you go off the heel). My least favorite spin would be layback. I don't know why but I always feel so uncomfortable when I am doing it. I have spent a lot of time on it lately.
Q: What skaters did you grow up admiring?
A: The one skater I have always looked up to is Michelle Kwan. I feel she brought everything to the sport, she was athletic but also balletic. She was always so fun to watch and she always brought so much joy to each performance. Every program she skated inspired me, and before almost every competition I watch one of her performances to get me motivated.
Q: For years, you balanced singles and pairs skating, winning the U.S. Novice and Junior titles with Joshua Reagan. Do you miss pairs skating? Was it scary?
A:I actually get that question a lot and of course it is yes, I miss it a lot. I will always love pairs and I will always be a pair girl. Sometimes when I'm watching pairs, like at Nationals, I want to be out there so bad. But I am so happy with my singles skating right now and I just want to put everything I have into singles at the moment.
Q: What's your favourite food?
A: My two favorite foods are sushi and s'mores, not together of course. I can eat like ten s'mores, they are amazing! My friends and I used to have sushi Saturday every single Saturday, it was the best!
Q: What "do you want to be when you grow up"? Not that I think everyone should ever have to "grow up".. haha
A: I have always wanted to work with animals, ever since I was little. So something to do with working with animals would be my dream job. I would of course love to coach and skate in ice shows. My parents were in the ice shows for ten years and when I hear their stories it sounds like such a great experience!
Q: Who is the coolest skater you've ever had a chance to meet?
A: I think it is always cool to meet the skaters who are at the top of our sport. It's interesting to see how they get ready for competition and how they deal with all the pressure. I think meeting the German pair, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, was probably the greatest experience. I have watched them ever since they teamed up and they have been my favorite pair team because they are so innovative with their programs. When I was on the ice with them at Cup of Russia it was pretty surreal. Also Ashley Wagner is such a great role model. The way she deals with pressure is absolutely amazing. Seeing the way she keeps her head on her shoulders at competition, especially at Nationals, makes her a true champion.
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