In such a relatively short amount of time, Canada's Alaine Chartrand has already done so much. In 2013, in only her second time competing at the senior level at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, Alaine won the bronze medal and since has gone on to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships and the Four Continents Championships, with top ten results at both competitions. A strong, promising skater with explosive jumps, Alaine really is one of several Canadian ladies who is knocking at the door and ready to make a move internationally and I am confident she'll certainly do it. She already has, with a top five finish at Junior Worlds, for heaven sakes! At any rate, Alaine is crazy talented and it was my pleasure to talk to her about her skating career to date, her goals for the future, why she loves skating and much more in this interview I think you'll really enjoy:
Q: You've really made such a rise in skating in the last few years. From finishing tenth on the junior level at the 2011 Canadian Championships to winning the senior ladies bronze medal just two seasons later and finishing in the top five at this season's Canadian Championships and World Junior Championships and in the top ten at the 2014 Four Continents Championships in Taipei City, you have so much to be proud of, especially in such a short time! What are your proudest moments as a skater so far?
A: Definitely my happiest moment was finding out that I finished third at the 2013 Canadian Championships. This was sort of an unexpected result as I was sixth after the short program. I had a great long program which brought me up to third overall. This was my first medal ever at a Canadian Championships which made it that much more exciting. Standing on the podium and performing in the gala with my skating idols was an amazing experience and one of my best memories. This past season, I'm most proud of my long program comeback at Four Continents and fifth place finish at Junior Worlds. Four Continents was my first senior international competition and moving up from fifteenth,after a disappointing short program, to fifth in the long for a seventh place finish was incredible. I earned personal best short, long and overall scores at this event and loved competing as a senior. At Junior Worlds, I had my best long program of the season and moved up in the long to finish fifth in a very tough field.
Q: When and why did you start skating and was it something you knew you wanted to do right from the very beginning?
A: I started skating when I was three years old in our local CanSkate program. I don't really remember the beginning but my parents say I was a very serious little skater who progressed quickly. I probably really started to love skating once I learned my first jumps.
Q: You've worked with some really talented coaches and choreographers - Michelle Leigh, David Wilson, Jeffrey Buttle, Jennifer Robinson and many others. What do you think makes a good coach and choreographer in your opinion?
A: I think as a coach or choreographer you have to be patient, positive, and showcase your skaters' strengths, but also work on improving their weaknesses. I'm very fortunate to be able to work with so many skating greats and I think that they've all had something unique to offer to help me improve my skating.
Q: I thought your performance at this year's World Junior Championships was excellent. Competing against some of the Russian girls, especially Elena Radionova has got to be a little unnerving. Are nerves ever a real factor for you and how do you deal with that?
A: Thank you. I believe all athletes have to deal with nerves and I'm no different. Of course, it can be nerve wracking competing on big national and international stages. I think that it's good to have a bit of nerves and that it's a natural thing. You just can't let them get out of control so that they affect your performance. When I compete, my goal is always to skate my best. I have to be confident in my strengths as a skater and focus on myself. When it comes down to it, the judges, your coaches, parents and the audience want to see you have a great skate, so show them how great you are and have fun doing it! As far as the Russian girls go, they are really just normal kids, trying to skate their best, the same as me. Competing against Elena Radionova is not new as I competed against her last year at Junior Worlds. I actually got to know Evgenia Medvedeva a bit because her Mom trained with my coach Leonid Birinberg in Russia during their competitive careers.
Q: What do you see as your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a skater and how are you working hard to improve any weaknesses?
A: I think my biggest strength is my jumps and technical ability. In the last year, we have worked very hard to improve expression and performance. I would say an area to improve would be my consistency in competition. I need to continue working to bring what I do in my daily practices to competition.
Q: Looking forward to next season and the next four years, what are your main goals in skating and life?
A: I've always wanted to go to an Olympic Games and still do, so Pyeongchang 2018 is probably my ultimate goal. In the near future, I'm hoping to get on the senior Grand Prix circuit and qualify for senior Worlds.
Q: Who are your three favourite skaters of all time and why?
A: There are really so many skaters that I could have chosen who I look up to and admire for different reasons. I really love looking up old videos, results and just learning about the history of the sport. Right now I'm going to say Kevin Reynolds, Tara Lipinski and Midori Ito. As someone who loves to jump, I respect these skaters for their jumping prowess. Kevin holds multiple records for his jumping abilities and has always gone for the toughest technical programs throughout his career. Tara was an Olympic Champion at 15, had beautiful jumps and always looked like she was having a blast on the ice. Midori really impresses me because her jumps were so high and she really pushed the sport forward with her consistent triple axel.
Q: What's one thing most people don't know about you?
A: I always jump on the bed at the hotel before going to the rink to compete.
Q: What is your favourite song, your favourite book and your favourite movie?
A: I can't say I have a favourite song as I generally just listen to whatever is on the radio, like top forty. I read a lot so I don't think I could pick a favourite. I like the classic movies such as The Wizard of Oz and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would definitely be in your suitcase?
A: I think one of the most rewarding things about being a high level figure skater is getting the opportunity to travel to different countries all around the world and it's something that I really enjoy. Somewhere I haven't been yet that I would really love to visit would be Japan. I've heard so much about how the Japanese are huge figure skating fans. I also have some Japanese fans of my own who are extremely kind and are always inviting me to come visit. I would definitely bring my favourite comfy slippers which I wear on the plane and through the airport.
Q: What makes figure skating the best sport out there?
A: It combines power and strength with grace and performance which is very unique.
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