Performing as a professional skater since 1993, Craig Heath began his career like many skaters - competing in national and international level competitions for 10 years. Since turning professional, he has won the bronze medal at the World Professional Figure Skating Championships in Jaca, Spain, and performed in Hawaii, Russia, Europe, Asia and everywhere in between in shows, tours and even cruise ships. Known for his great connection to his music, superb spins and charisma, Craig Heath is a brilliant skater who has only made the sport better by his involvement in it. I had chance to ask him some questions recently and am sure you will truly enjoy his answers:
Q: What was the transition like from 'amateur' to professional figure skating?
A: It was scary! I always loved to skate and I loved to work hard but I was at a road block with my skating and I didn't know which direction to take. Luckily, there was a show skater who worked at my rink who guided me into show business and even helped me to get my first professional job in an amusement park. After my first performance I was totally hooked and had found what I was born to do. I still feel this was twenty years later.
Q: Where is the most interesting place you've ever performed and what was the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to you on the ice?
A: A famous movie studio in Shanghai, China for the one hundred year anniversary of the Mont Blanc company. Bizarre... just stepping out onto ice for a show in Japan and an earthquake hit.
Q: You have worked with some genius choreographers like Gia Guddat and Brian Wright. What has been your favourite program to skate and why?
A: "X" by Brian Wright. It was the last one we made before he passed away. The music is so fun and the choreography is so creative and interesting. I still perform it sometimes. It makes me happy. "Save a Horse...Ride a Cowboy" by Gia Guddat. When she first asked me to do it I said no and I told her that's she's crazy to suggest it. Then I gave in and did it. It ended up to be one of the most fun and crowd pleasing routines I ever did. I still get many requests to perform it.
Q: You participated in competitions like the U.S. Open and American Open which were instrumental in giving professional skaters an opportunity to compete and gain exposure. Do you think that competitions such as these are leaving a void in the sport or are they a thing of the past?
A: I think there is a huge void. I was so fortunate to be able to participate. I have some of the best memories of my life from these competitions. I feel sad that the current skaters are not able to have that experience. The closest thing we have now is www.Proskaters.org has the Virtual Skate Off where pro skaters can send in show/competition videos for the public to judge. It is a great way to win some cash and get your name out there.
Q: What was the experience of skating on a cruise ship like?
A: Super fun. The audiences are great and they really appreciate the shows. The shows are extremely professional and very well produced. Willy Bietak Productions out of Los Angeles puts the shows together and hires all the skaters. Centering a spin is an interesting concept! The ship is always moving so the skaters have to be constantly adjusting. When the ship rocks, the skaters rock. Its funny to see a whole cast (around 12 skaters) go into a spin and all travel in the same direction due to the ship tilting.
A: Christopher Bowman, Brian Boitano, Ryan Bradley. Michelle Kwan. We should all know Nathan Chen. I work with him on spins and tricks. He's amazing!
Q: What would you do to change the way figure skating is judged?
A: Put back the 6.0 system ASAP!
Q: If you could give all competitive skaters one piece of advice what would it be?
A: Enjoy yourself and the process. Work hard. Be self motivated. Take acting, stretching and dance classes. Perform your programs like you are doing a show. Take responsibility for your future and your career. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you.
Visit Craig's website at http://www.craigheath.com.
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