Spotlight on Craig Ratterree
An Unseen Skaters special. January 15, 2005.
Qualifying for his first Nationals is 18-year-old Craig Ratterree, the 2005 South Atlantic Regional junior men’s champion and Eastern Sectional pewter medallist. Ratterree represents the Washington FSC and trains in Alexandria, Virginia, with his long-time coach and choreographer, Sergey Korovin.
Please describe your performances at South Atlantic Regionals (1st place) and Easterns Sectionals (4th) this season.
Well this season at Regionals I was very pleased with how I skated considering I'm finally coming up to the level that I can skate near clean programs. As far as Sectionals went, I was feeling okay going into short program and landing the triple axel right off the bat was a huge help. Long program started out great with the triple axel but everything was a little sloppy. I'm still not sure what happened but I’m happy to being going to Nationals.
How do you feel about qualifying for "big" Nationals for the first time?
Oh man, qualifying for Nationals is huge for me. I mean for the past 3 years I was so close it was ridiculous. The first year was novice and I got 7th at Easterns and then I got 5th in junior at Easterns in 2003 and last year was a painful fall at Regionals leaving me sitting in 5th place yet again. So for me making it to Nationals has been a long road but we finally made it, and I can tell you this is only the beginning.
When and how did you begin skating?
I started one month before I turned 10. It was actually one of my best friends who invited me to go to the rink with him. I saw a guy figure skating and I was amazed that it wasn’t only a female sport so I knew then I wanted to be a professional skater.
What has been the most memorable moment in your skating career so far?
My first South Atlantics competition in Atlanta and I skated that entire competition with stitches in my knee.
What has been the biggest challenge or disappointment that you have overcome in your skating career?
Getting 5th [at Regionals/Sectionals] has been a really hard thing for me because it feels like I have come so close and I missed it by one jump.
Do you have an embarrassing or humorous moment on the ice that you're willing to share?
Nothing embarrassing has really happened to me except when I was younger I used to forget my programs in competition and I'd skate in circles around and around until I remembered the rest.
How long have you been working with your current coach and how would you describe his coaching style?
I have been skating with Sergey Korovin for almost my entire skating career. I started with him about three months after I started, and when we had to change rinks there was a short time when I wasn’t with him. But as far as skating with him, I wouldn’t be able to skate with anyone else besides him. Russian style for Sergey is Russian.
My coach's competitive coaching background includes sending a pair team and a singles man [Kazakhstan's Marina Khalturina & Andrei Kroukov and Juri Litvinov] to the Nagano Olympics.
What are your goals for Nationals? Will you be making any significant changes in your programs for Nationals?
My goals for Nationals are nothing more than to do my very best, and I know if I am able to do just that, I'll be untouchable. As for changes in the program, we have done some but nothing huge. I have a triple axel-double toe combo planned for the short program and a triple axel and seven triples, including a triple lutz-triple toe combo, for the long program.
What music are you using this season? How do you usually pick your skating music?
Short program is from The Mask of Zorro and my long is Tchaikovsky's “Symphony #6.” My coach picks the music I skate to.
What do you feel are the strongest and weakest aspects of your skating?
The strongest parts of my skating are my speed and jumping height. I love the feeling of flying in the air so I'm always pushing harder to get just a little more speed and a little more height. As for weakest, I'd say spins and endurance.
What improvements have you made in your skating this season?
This season we kept the same programs so we really tried to focus our time on the artistic moments of the programs, even though we also added a triple axel and triple-triple combinations.
What is your current favorite jump, spin and connecting move?
Triple axel 100% - it's soo much fun to land because every time I land it everyone is always clapping and shouting. Spins I prefer flying camel, and connecting moves I'd say my long program's straight line footwork - I love how quick the steps are at the end of it.
What are your long-term goals in skating?
To represent the U.S.A. in an international competition. And win. As far as off the ice, my entire family is into real estate and I don’t know what I see in it, but somehow it seems very exciting so I am planning within the next year to get my real estate license.
Who are your favorite skaters and why?
My favorite skater is still Elvis Stojko. I respect him so much for skating even though he had a serious injury.
Who has influenced your skating the most and how?
There hasn’t been any one person who has influenced my skating. But each time I see a person skating I try to become better than him, and after I reach that goal I find someone else. I know it’s a weird strategy but so far it's worked for me.
What are some of your off ice hobbies? What do you like to do for fun away from the ice?
I love my computer. When I'm not on the ice I'm either on the computer or dancing. I play in dance game tournaments - it's a game called DDR or “Dance Dance Revolution.” This past year I built my own computer from scratch.
You graduated from your home school program earlier this year. Do you have any college plans?
Right now I'm not planning on going to college for two or three years. My theory is I can go to college anytime in my life, but skating is something you can only do for a few years. And when I go to college, I would like my two majors to be computer engineering and religion.
The Washington FSC’s July 2004 Blade newsletter mentioned your past volunteer work with the Special Olympics. Are you still involved with the Special Olympics?
This season I wasn’t able to volunteer because we have started Pilates trying to prepare for Nationals.
Your club’s newsletter also mentioned that your "ultimate goal is to join the ministry." Would you like to share why you are drawn to the ministry?
I only have one life to live and an eternity to spend in heaven or hell and when you think about it that way it’s a pretty easy decision.
What is it about skating that motivates you to keep going day in and day out?
Having fun and landing my jumps.
Name: Craig Ratterree
Date of Birth: November 27, 1986
Place of Birth: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Height: 5’ 9”
Training Town: Alexandria, Virginia
Home Club: Washington FSC
Coach: Sergey Korovin
Choreographer: Sergey Korovin
All photographs courtesy of Craig Ratterree. 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.