Spotlight on Jeremy Abbott
An Unseen Skaters special. January 7, 2004.
Jeremy Abbott, 18, is the 2004 Southwestern Regional Junior Men's champion and Midwestern Sectional silver medalist. He placed 6th in Novice Men at 2002 Nationals and is making his Junior debut at 2004 Nationals in Atlanta, January 7-9, 2004. He represents the Broadmoor Skating Club and trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
When and how did you begin skating?
I started skating at two years old when my mom took me to the rink for public sessions, but I really knew that I wanted to skate when I was four. My mom took me to a skating show in Aspen, Colorado, where I grew up, and I saw Robin Cousins skate. I turned to my mom and told her that was what I wanted to do!
What has been the most memorable experience in your skating career so far?
Junior Nationals in 2000 was probably the most memorable so far! The night before my final round long program at 10:30 pm I got my double axel clean! I did it twice in my program the following day!
Do you have an embarrassing moment in skating that you can share?
Probably Skate Kansas City in 2002. I fell on every jump in my program -- not too embarrassing, but it's the worst so far knock on wood!).
How long have you been working with your current coach, Tom Zakrajsek, and how would you describe his coaching style? Do you work with other coaches as well?
I have been working with Tom for about five or six years. Tom is a great coach! He puts so much into his coaching -- it's really amazing! He wants his students to be the best they can be! He doesn't teach like a normal skating coach -- he gets a lot of inspiration from coach John Wooden (basketball), and he ties Coach Cooden's methods into figure skating. I also work with Becky Calvin -- she works on spins and programs run throughs with me. Damon Allen is my main secondary coach and also does my choreography, and Kathy Johnson works with me on movement and presentation.
What is your program music this season, and who choreographed your programs?
My short is a jazz version of Concierto de Aranjuez and my long is three different pieces of music done by a group called Safri Duo. Damon Allen choreographs my programs. I get my imput as well!
You overcame a serious back injury this past summer to qualify for Nationals. What was the exact nature of your injury?
I had a pars fracture in my L5 vertebra. On your back bones there are two little "wings" that stick out on either side of the bone and basically I cracked both of them. One of them cracked all the way through and the other one was just partially cracked.
How long were you off the ice and what were you able to work on when you were unable to train your jumps?
I was off the ice for about 15 weeks. I did a lot of off-ice conditioning. Fortunately I was able to stay on the ice -- I was just not allowed to jump or spin, so I got a new short program and worked with Kathy to improve both of my programs so that when I was able to come back, my presentation would be immensely better, and I would only have to concentrate on my jumping!
Can you summarize the process of your comeback and the emotions that accompanied it?
Coming back was not as difficult as I thought that it would have been. I took it one day at a time. Actually, I was doing double axels my first session back, which was a little quick, but I took it a lot slower after that. I didn't allow myself to do triples for at least a week, and when I started them again, it was one at a time, and I was only allowed one or two of each per session. Emotionally, I stayed positive. I was so happy that I was jumping again and that I was able to do Regionals that nothing could really upset me at that point. The fact that everything was coming back easily didn't hurt either!
What are your goals in skating, both short-term (at 2004 Nationals) and long-term?
I really have no expectations for Nationals. Making it is enough for me this year! I want to go out there and skate my best, just show everyone what I am capable of doing! I'm not going there for a placement -- I'm going there to compete with myself. To prove to myself I can do it! Anything extra would incredible! Long-term, I would love to be on the World and Olympic team, and someday coach.
Would you like to elaborate on the planned technical content of your Junior programs for Atlanta Nationals?
Technically, I don't know how my programs are going to stand against the other guys. I don't have a triple-triple planned (I can do one, but Tom and I don't think it will be necessary). However, I do have a triple axel planned in my long program!
What are your favorite jump, spin, and connecting element to do?
I enjoy axels, single through triple! My favorite spin would be a variation of a sit spin that I do in my long program. I don't know if anyone else has done it before, but it's fun either way. Connecting move? I don't really have a favorite. I enjoy footwork because the possibilities are endless -- there are so many ways that you can take basic skating moves and make them difficult and interesting!
What do you consider to be the strongest and weakest aspects of your skating?
I guess my choreography would be my strongest... I'm not really sure. However, my consistency is the weakest. I have been working really hard with my coaches to improve it, and it has gotten so much better but there's still room for improvement, just like anything else!
Which people have had the greatest influence on your skating over the years and in what ways?
That would definitely be my parents! My dad gives me a lot of support. My mom and my step-dad are amazing people -- they do so much for me! They have put so much into my skating, financially and emotionally. Having such an amazing support team between my parents and my coaches has done so much for me!
Who are your favorite skaters to watch and why?
Kurt Browning is amazing -- he can pull off any type of program (funny to emotional...), Emanuel Sandhu is an amazing jumper and is very innovative with his programs -- he always has something different! And, of course, who can leave out Michelle Kwan -- her athleticism and grace is awe inspiring!
What is your current schooling arrangement?
I am a senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School. However, this is my fifth year. This was my decision... I haven't failed anything, I just wanted to get the best grades I could while still focusing a lot of my efforts on skating! High school was the best five years of my life, LOL!!!
What are your future goals off the ice?
I plan on going to college next year and I would like to eventually graduate. Beyond that I'm not exactly sure. I'd like to stay healthy and happy. I'm not sure where my life is going to go beyond skating, but I'll make sure I enjoy the ride wherever it takes me!
What do you like to do for fun when you're not skating and training?
Hang out with my friends! I like bowling and movies! Sleeping is big on my list! And of course I love eating! My friends and I always go to Chipotle -- I guess it's our "hang out."
What is it about skating that motivates you to keep going day in and day out?
I absolutely love skating! I love the artistic and physical
elements of it. I love the rush of competing and also improving and
competing/winning against my own standards!
Photographs courtesy of the Abbott family. Skate photograph copyright © Dave Amorde. Unless otherwise noted, all content Do not reproduce elsewhere without permission.