Spotlight on Kirsten Olson
An Unseen Skaters special. January 9, 2005.
Kirsten Olson, 13, is the 2004 Intermediate Ladies silver medallist who has qualified in Novice Ladies for 2005 U.S. Nationals by placing 3rd at Upper Great Lakes Regionals and 2nd at Midwestern Sectionals. She is known for her superbly fast and sustained spins, and trains in Bloomington and Prior Lake, Minnesota, with Tracy Keefer, her coach and choreographer. This past summer, Olson acted and skated in her first feature film, Disney’s Ice Princess, which is currently scheduled for release in March 2005.
How would you describe the feeling of qualifying for "big" Nationals for the first time?
Very excited. After going to Junior Nationals last year, I really wanted to go to the "big" Nationals this year.
When and how did you begin skating?
I first started just after Christmas when I was three. My brother got hockey skates because he was going to be in hockey the next year, and I got skates called little angels. They were white and pink plastic boots with hockey skate blades. My Mom and Dad would take us to the park and we'd all skate.
What has been the most memorable moment in your skating career so far?
That's hard to say, but probably winning the short program at Junior Nationals last year. We skated at night, so after I finished my skate, I went back to the hotel and went to bed before I knew the results. My dad stayed for the results, and when he got back I was in bed but not asleep yet, so he told me.
What has been the biggest challenge, disappointment or embarrassing moment that you have overcome in your skating career?
My biggest challenge, disappointment and embarrassing moment are all kind of tied together. Last spring I got cast in the Disney movie Ice Princess. The filming was in Toronto, Canada. I knew it was going to be really hard to do both the movie and prepare for the next competitive season. But the movie role was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I really wanted to do it. I was supposed to start in early April and end at the end of June. It actually started a couple weeks later for me and went about three weeks longer. I ended up scratching at a couple of competitions I had planned to do to get ready for the NACS [North American Challenge Skate]. I got back home in late July, and didn't get to start training with my coach again for a few more days because she was out of town with other students at a competition. Instead of having two months to prepare, I had less than a month to work on my programs, and only one competition to use as a warm up. Although I had a wonderful coach, Don Knight, while I was in Canada, and did get some practice in, I found out you need to skate your programs in a competition to really prepare. Well I didn't have the skate I was hoping for at the NACS, and while it was disappointing, I think it really helped me grow as a competitor.
You won an acting and skating role in Disney's Ice Princess movie that is currently scheduled for release in March 2005. Can you tell us a little bit about your role and what the filming process was like for you this past summer in Canada?
I play a skater named Nikki, also known as the “jumping shrimp.” I'm one of the snooty ice princesses. The whole movie was a lot of fun! It was very different than I thought it would be. I thought that when you do a scene, you did it until everyone got their lines right, but you don't -- you do it right, maybe 10 to 15 times, and they focus in on different people or angles and then put it all together later. At first I couldn't figure out why it took so long to shoot scenes, but then I watched a scene in a movie and kind of kept track of how many different camera shots go into one scene.
The strangest thing about working on a movie is your schedule. Every night someone drops off the next day’s schedule for you. Sometimes you'd start early, sometimes in the afternoon. I'd always get three hours of tutoring (school) each day while my school back home was in session. When they didn't need you for a scene, you might work with your acting coach or skate if we were at the rink.
Please summarize your North American Challenge Skate experience in San Jose, California, August 2004 (4th in SP, 7th in FS and overall).
As I said earlier, I was disappointed with my skating because I know I can do much better, but I thought that the experience was wonderful. I loved being part of the team and cheering on my teammates. I met some really great skaters and made some really great friends.
How long have you been working with your current coach, Tracy Keefer, and how would you describe her coaching style or philosophy?
I started working with Tracy in January of 2003. Tracy's style is very positive, I really like working with her. Tracy believes in making you into a complete skater. We work on all of the different parts of my program.
What music are you using this season? Who choreographed your programs?
”Turandot” by Puccini for my short and “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov for my long. Tracy does all my choreography.
How have you improved as a skater since last year, when you qualified for Junior Nationals at the Intermediate level and won the silver medal?
I've added triples to my programs and tried to work on speed and difficulty going into jumps.
How would you assess/describe/compare your performances at Upper Great Lakes Regionals (3rd) and at Midwestern Sectionals (2nd)?
I had a better long at sectionals and I added triple toe.
Will you be making any significant changes in your programs for Nationals?
It will probably stay the same as it was at sectionals.
[Editor’s Note: Kirsten’s jump elements at Midwestern Sectionals were as follows:
(SP) 3salchow-2toe, 2loop and 2axel; (FS) 3toe, 2axel(fall), 3salchow-2toe, 2flip, flying sit, 3toe-2toe, 2loop, 2flip, 2axel, plus she did a layback of about 15 revolutions.]
What are your goals for Nationals in Portland? Long term skating goals?
In Portland I just hope to skate well. Long term, I'd like to continue competing and skate my best when it counts.
What do you consider to be the strongest and weakest aspects of your skating?
It changes as I add new moves and jumps.
What is your current favorite jump, spin and connecting element to do?
Triple toe for the jump, layback for the spin, and footwork.
You are known for your superbly fast and sustained spins. Does spinning come naturally to you or did you have to work hard at it? Have you ever counted the revolutions of one of your longest spins?
Spinning has always come naturally to me, but I do still practice them every day. I actually started spinning before I started skating. When I was really little I used to spin in place wherever I was, like in the store, in the yard or in the house. I've never really counted the revolutions until last year, when someone wrote on the Internet how many I did at regionals [in October 2003]. It sounded like a lot, so we looked at my tape and counted, and they were right. I think it was like 32 or 33 in my combo spin. I do a lot longer ones in practice but that's because you have more time.
Which person or persons have had the greatest influence on your skating?
That would be my first coach Joan Goodley. When I first met her in April 2000, I was in "learn to skate classes" at a rink near my house. She introduced me to competitive skating. The other person would be my current coach Tracy Keefer. Tracy is great at teaching me new jumps and spins. She does a great job on my programs too, she watches me and uses a lot of moves I do naturally in my programs.
Who are your favorite skaters and why?
Michelle Kwan because she's so good but still humble.
What is your current schooling arrangement, grade, favorite and least favorite subject?
I'm in 7th grade in public school at Eagle Ridge Junior High. My school has been very good about my skating. They let me use skating as my elective class. That way, I get a study hall during the day so I can do my homework, because I skate before and after school. I like all of my classes and teachers.
What are your long-term goals beyond skating?
I'd like to coach figure skating and go to college.
What do you like to do for fun away from the ice? What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I like to go to sleepovers with my friends, shop and play with my pets. I have a cat, a dwarf hamster and two goldfish.
Do you have any similarly athletic siblings?
I have a brother named Steven. He's 15 and plays hockey, football and baseball.
What do you like the most about skating that motivates you to keep going day in and day out?
I love the challenge of learning anything new in skating -- once I have it down, it motivates me to keep going, and find new things to work on. I just love to skate!!!
Name: Kirsten Olson
Date of Birth: October 20, 1991
Place of Birth: Burnsville, Minnesota
Height: 4’ 9”
Hometown: Savage, Minnesota
Training Towns: Bloomington and Prior Lake, Minnesota
Home Club: FSC of Bloomington
Coach: Tracy Keefer
Choreographer: Tracy Keefer
Skating photograph courtesy of FSC of Bloomington website. 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.