Spotlight on Eliot Halverson
An Unseen Skaters special. January 9, 2005.
The 2004 Intermediate Men’s champion, Eliot Halverson, 14, was born in Bogota, Colombia. He qualified for 2004 U.S. Nationals by winning the Novice Men’s title at Upper Great Lakes Regionals and placing 3rd at Midwestern Sectionals. He represents the St. Paul FSC, and trains in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his coaches, Ted Engelking and Ann Eidson. He enjoys helping to choreograph his own programs, and his favorite spin is the Biellmann.
How would you describe the feeling of qualifying for "big" Nationals for the first time?
Qualifying for Senior Nationals is awesome! I can’t wait to go to Portland. I have met many of the Novice Men at other competitions, so it will feel comfortable. This is a very
talented group of skaters.
You were born in Bogota, Colombia. Are your parents originally from there? When did you move to the U.S?
I was adopted as a baby from Colombia at five months of age. All of my siblings were adopted. My older brother (15) was also born in Bogota and my younger sister (10) was born in Asuncion, Paraguay. My mom stayed nine weeks in Colombia with me while waiting for the adoption papers to be signed. One interesting fact is that I came home on Mother’s Day.
When and how did you begin skating?
I started Basic Skills at age seven in The Learn to Skate Program at The Minnetonka FSC. My earliest memories were staring at their trophy case and looking at the picture of
Olympian, Jill Trenary. I was so amazed that someone in the Olympics was from Minnesota! The very first night I got my real (not toy) skates, I skated all day and cried because my mom would not let me sleep on the ice! Every Super Bowl Sunday our neighbors around the pond held ‘The Olympics,’ including figure skating competitions with music, homemade costumes and even flip-up score cards. In 1998, the World Championships were held in Minneapolis and my mom let me skip out of first grade for the whole week. After that I begged her to take lessons. My first competition was Beginner Level in the summer of 1998.
What has been the most memorable moment in your skating career so far?
My most memorable moment so far has been winning the Junior National Intermediate Men’s Championship last year in Scottsdale, Arizona. I met my goal and skated a clean program and was so happy.
What has been the biggest challenge or disappointment that you have overcome in your skating career?
My parents divorced and the biggest challenge is how to keep me skating. Sometimes I have not been able to have lesson time and had to skate on my own because of finances. My coaches are so awesome and giving. They both tell me that adversity builds character. Not having lesson time has made me face challenges by myself without someone always watching me. This really has been a blessing, but we still struggle to find funds for training.
Do you have an embarrassing moment in skating that you're willing to share?
Of course I did what every young skater does and stepped onto the ice with my guards on in one of my first competitions. I fell flat on my face as they introduced me.
Just last week we had an ice storm in Minnesota. I walk to the rink from my house, which is on a very steep street. I literally was backsliding and had to hang onto a retaining wall, clinging with my fingernails! My neighbors (3 hockey players) were laughing at me from their window because here is this supposed ‘fancy figure skater’ who can’t even walk up an icy hill! I was afraid that I was going to fall and break something just before coming to Nationals!
How long have you been working with your current coaches, Ted Engelking and Ann Eidson, and how would you describe their respective coaching styles or philosophies?
I have been taking lessons from Ted and Ann for three and a half years. They are an incredible team because they compliment each other so well. Ted is very ‘nuts and bolts’ skating and is, in my mind, a genius in edges and in planning programs and music. He is like a father to me in that he is firm yet encouraging. Ann mainly does my off ice training right now. She finds just the right exercises and is so fun to work with. She prepares me mentally, physically and emotionally. I am really blessed to have such high caliber coaches right where I live in St. Paul.
What music are you using this season?
My SP music is a compilation from The Addams Family movie soundtrack.
My FS music is from “Capriccio Espagnol” by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Who choreographed your programs?
Very early in the year, I worked with Chika Maruta from the D.C. area. She set the theme and character of the programs and gave me ideas for the types of elements to use. After that, I pretty much added the rest myself. I keep layering little things each time I compete so that by the end of the year I have made it my own.
You seem to relish skating and performing in character to the music. How important are choreography and presentation to you as a skater?
I have been choreographing and performing in ‘home recitals’ since I was three. I used to set up chairs and make everyone sit in the front yard and watch us kids perform. I started taking gymnastics at two and a half and was the only boy in the five-year-old dance class. Getting into the character of my programs is the most important thing to me. I love to share my love of skating with the audience. I can’t think of anything that I like to do more.
How have you improved as a skater since last year, when you won the Intermediate Men’s national title?
Going through such tight financial times this past year has really made me become a more mature skater. There were many sessions where I had to learn new things on my own and I feel more confident now because of it.
Was there one competition in which you performed well that helped build your confidence this season? If yes, which one and please explain why.
My clean free skate program at Regionals in October was such an awesome experience. It was only the third time skating my program this year. There really is nothing better than nailing everything in your program regardless of the results.
What was the North American Challenge Skate experience like for you in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, in August 2004, when you won the silver medal?
Having an experience like NACS builds such confidence. It is the first time when you really feel like it’s just you and your coach. We stayed with roommates for the first time also, which was totally weird to us “newbies” (right Roger?). It was fun to represent Team USA and to meet skaters from other countries. Having open scoring was also a new experience. U.S. Novice Men swept the medals so all the other skaters (pairs and dance) were whooping it up for us. It was really fun.
How would you compare your performances at Upper Great Lakes Regionals (1st) and at Midwestern Sectionals (3rd)?
Regionals were extra special because of two clean programs. Although I didn’t skate as well as I can at Mids, I was still pleased. I am going to Portland!
Someone wrote a report on the Internet about your Midwestern Sectional short program as follows: “…not sure of the music, but I'm thinking it was some kind of ‘monster movie’ soundtrack, because a recurring choreography theme included a ‘creeping hands motif.’ I can't explain it better than that... it looked almost like cartoon ghosts from Scooby Doo. Anyway, it's a light comic program, and he presents it well.” Your comments?
Well, it wasn’t exactly Scooby Doo, but more like something from the dungeon of the
Addams Family’s mansion! But I am happy the commentator got the “comic” theme.
I love this program. It is so much fun to get into the character. The “creeping hands
motif” came from my mom who has had some experience in theatre.
How would you summarize and assess your long program (to Capriccio Espanol) at Midwestern Sectionals?
I really enjoy classical programs. I think my natural style is classical. I had a very strong start with my 3salchow, 3flip-2toe, and 3lutz-2toe-2loop. I missed my first 3toe, and 3loop, but was so happy to come back solidly with my second 3toe-2toe combination. Holding it together is the focus. I was pleased.
What are your goals for Nationals in Portland? Long-term skating goals?
It is always my goal to skate a clean program and be happy with what I have done. I hope that lands me near the top. Depending on how things work out, I will decide to stay at Novice or not. I would love to be invited to another international competition. My long term goal is to be Senior Men’s Champion. It would be icing on the cake to go to Worlds and I think the timing has to just fall right to get a chance at an Olympics. I would love to skate in touring shows.
What do you consider to be the strongest and weakest aspects of your skating?
I think that I need to continue to work on speed and footwork steps. My strengths are my carriage, body line and flexibility with spin positions. I was naturally flexible as a toddler when I started in gymnastics, and I continue to work on it daily. I’m really into the details of performing a program and developing the character throughout the year.
What is your current favorite jump, spin and connecting element to do?
My first triple that I landed was the Salchow, so it is my most consistent, making it
my favorite jump. I love doing Biellmann spins [see photo] and spirals also.
Who has had the greatest influence on your skating?
My mom is always there for me. She encourages me without any pressure on me at all. In fact she asks me every season… ”Are ya SURE you don’t want to quit?” She makes so many sacrifices to ensure I can continue with my passion. We moved from a great big townhouse to a teeny tiny 900 square foot house to be closer to the rink. She would do anything for any one of us.
Who are your favorite skaters and why?
I always have admired Rudy Galindo for his persistence and for overcoming adversity. I read parts of his bio where he had to ride his bike to the rink. I walk, so I can relate! We both are Hispanic and have to struggle financially. He amazingly kept skating at such a high level when he turned professional. Evgeny Plushenko, besides being a very nice guy, is an incredible skater in every way. No one can touch Michelle Kwan for her grace and joyfulness, but my all time favorite skater is Irina Slutskaya. She has had such an amazing comeback, a sign of a true professional. She is so perky and makes me laugh in her interviews.
What is your current schooling arrangement, grade, favorite and least favorite subjects?
I am currently in 8th grade and have been home schooled for the past four years. Once
a week I attend a school where tutors come together to teach higher level classes to home schooled kids such as Science Lab. I like Math and Writing, but I’m starting to like Science more. I am a skilled speller and wish I could be in the National Spelling Bee, but
I think I am too old now!
What are your goals beyond skating?
I would love to study either interior architecture or fashion design. I like to design clothes and would like to have my own label. We recently moved, so I got the chance to design and decorate my own bedroom. It is very European. I have all fake stuff right now, but hope to collect “real” treasures when I get the chance to travel internationally some day. I would like to stay active in skating and perhaps help out young skaters such as Michael Weiss does with his foundation.
What do you like to do for fun away from the ice? What are some of your hobbies and interests?
People always tell me that I’m very social, so spending time with friends is definitely
at the top of my list. When I’m not at the rink, I like listening to music (all types),
reading, drawing, singing, shopping, and although I haven’t for a very long time, horseback riding.
Do you have any similarly athletic siblings?
My brother is very much into skateboarding. He insists on bringing his skateboard to
every one of my competitions and always seems to find someone to skate with. My
sister plays the French horn in 5th grade band and would like to start swimming.
What do you like the most about skating that motivates you to keep going day in and day out?
I have never had any trouble getting up early if I knew I was going to skate. When we used to drive a long distance, even at age ten, I would wake up at 5:00 a.m., eat, pack my lunch, make my mom’s coffee, start the car to warm it up, and then wake her up! I like the challenge of developing new skills, setting goals, working strenuously and accomplishing them -- the best reward. Developing a program over a season is really fulfilling. I enjoy taking my new programs and growing with them throughout the year. Developing the character and just feeling the music is what I love about skating.
Name: Eliot Halverson
Date of Birth: November 8, 1990
Place of Birth: Bogota, Colombia
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Training Town: St. Paul, Minnesota
Home Club: St. Paul Figure Skating Club
Coach: Ted Engelking and Ann Eidson
Choreographers: Chika Maruta, my coaches, and me
Head shot and Biellmann spin photographs courtesy of and copyright © Diane Shomion, St. Paul, MN. Skate photograph copyright © Dave Amorde. Unless otherwise noted, all content is copyright © 2000-2005 Unseen Skaters. All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce elsewhere without permission.