Aspen champion performs at Stars on Ice
Figure skating wasn’t the most popular activity in the ski-driven town of Aspen – especially if you were a boy.”The culture was big on skiing and hockey,” said two-time U.S. National champion Jeremy Abbott, who grew up in Aspen and will be performing this Sunday in Denver at Stars on Ice. “It wasn’t easy. At times, I got really discouraged and upset – kids aren’t always the nicest, especially when you’re probably the only male skater in a town predominately (concerned with) skiing.”He put up with “lots of teasing,” but he never let it interfere with his passion for skating.”I was an odd kid,” he said. “I did my own thing, and I loved to skate, and I never let anything deter me from that.” By the time he reached high school, being a male skater “wasn’t a big deal.” He moved to Colorado Springs to train with Tom Zakrajsek for 10 years, and last May, he moved to Detroit to work with 1994 world champion Yuka Sato. The Detroit facility is “more quiet, (with more) room for me to breathe and have my own space,” Abbott said, adding that the partnership has led him to feel “a lot more comfortable and confident.”But, despite his increased confidence, he said he felt “awful” going into the 2010 Olympics, due to a back injury that occurred after he won gold at the U.S. Nationals. The pain affected his training, and thus his sureness.”I was an emotional mess, and just physically a mess,” he said. “I wasn’t very excited, and I was very scared, and that came through.”As most athletes know, mental attitude is a key component in successful competition.”The majority (of skating) at this point (in high-level competition) is mental because everyone can do the same thing,” he said. “It’s about who can put it together mentally in competition and stay aggressive and stay focused.”He’s still learning to deal with the pressure he places upon himself, as well as external expectations.”It’s been difficult for me to deal with expectations I put on myself and expectations put on me based on what I’m capable of,” he said. “I’ve always been an underdog and late bloomer. It’s a big responsibility, and it’s a lot to hold up to, and I’m really trying to find the confidence in myself that these expectations are put on me because I’m good enough.”Though he didn’t fall -or even bobble – during his Olympic short program, he ended up singling a planned triple axel and doubling another jump, costing him precious points and shattering any hope of placing.Still, Abbott describes the Vancouver experience as one of the best in his life, “despite the competition.””To be an Olympian is such an honor,” he said. “I worked since I was 4 … and to be there with people all over the world who have the same dream and goal is beyond description. I felt so at home there.”
The music Abbott chooses enables his superb artistry to shine. He skated to “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles, interpreted by Jeff Beck, for his short program – a somewhat untraditional genre.”When I hear it, it kind of consumes me, and it’s emotional and it’s exciting,” he said, adding, “and it’s not a piece of music that I’m going to get sick of (listening to) day after day.”Though he’ll be skating to other pieces at Stars on Ice, audiences can still expect the highest standards.”I go out there every day trying to put on the best show for the audience,” Abbott said, explaining that he does it both to please the audience and because he loves it when people appreciate what he does.This is the first time he’s toured with Stars on Ice, but he has watched the shows for years and believes this show is exceptional.”We have a really good cast this year,” he said, adding that though nothing’s ever perfect, “for the most part everybody is getting along, and I think it really comes across on the ice.”
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