To me, there's something really special about Courtney Hicks' skating. She's a powerhouse of a jumper and if you look at her performances on the Grand Prix this season (fourth place finishes at both Skate Canada in Kelowna and Trophée Éric Bompard in Bordeaux) you definitely see a skater with a renewed fire to succeed this season and a lot of marked improvement going on in terms of the way she's presenting herself as a skater. It was an absolute pleasure to have chance to speak with her about the growth in her skating this year, her goals going into this week's U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina and much more in this interview you're going to just love:
Q: The accomplishments you've had so far in your skating career have been fantastic - wins at international competitions like the U.S. International Classic and Ice Challenge, top five finishes at the Junior World Championships and Four Continents Championships, the U.S. Junior title in 2011 and most recently, two fourth place finishes at your first senior Grand Prix events. I'm sorry, but that's fantastic! Reflecting on what you've accomplished so far, what are your proudest moments and most special memories?
A: I'd have to say the most special memory for me was my pewter medal in Omaha at the U.S. Championships. I’d come back from an injury and that was my first time competing at Nationals since I’d won the junior title, and it was just so gratifying to see all of my hard work and struggle over the year finally pay off. Another moment that I'm extremely proud of is my short program in Salt Lake City earlier this year. I’d struggled with my attitude going into the short a lot in the previous season, and Salt Lake City was such a huge change in my mentality. I feel like that was really a pivot point in how I approach short programs now.
Q: How do you think you've changed and grown the most as a skater this season?
A: I have really decided exactly how I want to portray myself to the audience and judges. In the past I've always thought of it as ‘perform this character’, and I've realized that it's about much more than just the character that's being portrayed. Even though I'm still working on it, I'm figuring out how to inject my own emotions and performance into whatever I'm skating to and how to truly perform for an audience, and not just for myself.
Q: That said, looking towards the U.S. Championships in Greensboro and beyond, what are your main goals and focuses in training right now?
A: I am really focusing on consistency and staying healthy. I'm also really trying to push my performance in all of my run-throughs. I know that I can do the jumps, so it’s nice to be able to take time to focus on the performance and presentation aspects of my skating.
Q: If you were throwing a party, what would be on the menu, what kind of music would be playing and what would the dress code be?
A: I think I’d go with blintzi and cheeses. I love blintzi and I don’t get it very often so that’d be a must! There would definitely need to be a coffee machine, too. For the music I’d have a mix of a ton of different styles. I love K-pop, Country, some Russian pop and alternative... so really anything would be fine. The dress code would definitely be on the dressier side, too. Since I pretty much always wear workout clothes, its fun to dress up every once in a while.
Q: You've skated to a lot of music over the past few years with a Russian theme - Korobushka, the Russian Sailor' Dance, Dark Eyes and your free skate this year is set to Anna Karenina. Has your Russian heritage played a role in your music choices?
A: I don't know if my heritage has played a role so much as the fact that I just tend to enjoy that style of music. I have always loved Russian folk music; I think definitely fun to skate to and it sounds so happy most of the time. I also love the intensity that Russian music often portrays. I like that it can be soft and pretty but still have a certain strength behind it.
Q: Your current coaches are Jere Michael and Alex Chang but you've also worked with Ken Congemi and the legendary John Nicks in the past. What have your coaches taught you that has brought out something different and special in your skating?
A: I've been really fortunate to have coaches that have helped me do what I do to the best of my abilities. I'm a very powerful and strong skater, and they've recognized that and have helped me show my strengths in the best way. I feel like my coaches have all worked on bringing out my power and speed and helping me make it beautiful. They never tried to mold me into something I'm not. I'm one of the few skaters that have all the jumps without any edge calls or underrotations, and they've always focused on highlighting my elements. My coaches have always helped me fine tune my skating in a way that was uniquely me, without trying to copy or skate like anyone else.
Courtney's exhibition program from the 2013 Graz Ice Challenge with an introduction by 1972 Olympic Gold Medallist Trixi Schuba
Q: What's one thing about you most people don't know?
A: Most people don't know that I absolutely love world history and geography. I've always enjoyed history and it's pretty much always been my best subject in school. I also think it’s really cool to be able to go back and see things that have happened in the past and see how the event has directly and indirectly influenced things that happened in the future.
Q: Who are your three favourite figure skaters of all time and why?
A: My favourite has always been Michelle Kwan. I love the way she connects to the audience and gives everything she’s got while she's on the ice. Another favourite of mine is Yuna Kim. I admire her speed and attack on the ice, and her jumps are breathtaking. My third would have to be Alexei Yagudin. I've always loved his footwork and speed and his programs are always so fun to watch!
Q: In your opinion, what are the most important things in life?
A: I definitely think having a really solid base of family and friends is extremely important. To have a network of support around while you’re growing up and when you’re trying to achieve things makes such a huge difference. Even if it's not family support, just having a group of people around you that support you is so needed. I think another important thing in life is to find something that you love doing. It's the best thing to be able to go to sleep every night totally exhausted from the day knowing that you spent it working at something that you truly love doing.
Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.