The Ice Sports Forum is always proud of our skaters. We watch them day in and day out put in the time, sweat, and tears needed to compete in such a demanding sport. That is why it is even more special when we have a skater that "goes pro".
Professional in skating doesn't always mean the Olympics or competition skating. It means making skating your passion and profession. We recently had skater Michelle Fee do just that and I had a chance to interview her.
Right now Michelle is skating in Brühl, Germany at the Phantasialand theme park for the Ice College 2017 show. The company she skates for is Glacier Ice Shows. Let's take a look at what led her abroad to pursue her skating career.
Matt: "Michelle, tell me a little about your skating history."
Michelle: "I started skating when I was 6 years old - I attended a birthday party at the Ice Sports Forum and immediately fell in love with it. After a little bit of begging, my mom signed me up for group classes! And I have pretty much been skating ever since. I started competing a very long time ago, I think at the age of 7? I passed my Senior Moves in the Field test when I was 12, which was a big accomplishment. When I was about 14, I had a pretty serious overuse injury to my right leg which eventually led towards the end of my competitive days, but I still had the goal of passing my Senior Freestyle test before I graduated from high school (which I did the day after I turned 18). I went to college in Orlando, and that's when I started skating at the RDV Sportsplex - I really used skating as a break from the stress of school and adult responsibilities, haha. I took some dance tests during those few years, explored some basic pairs skating, did a couple of small shows in the area. My first show was actually at Disney's Hollywood Studios, where I skated to a medley of Frozen songs and did a meet and greet as a Norwegian girl. And then in November of 2015, I signed my first big professional contract, graduated in December, and moved to Germany in February of 2016. I absolutely LOVE it here, so I renewed my contract and am staying until November (at least). Who knows what will come after this...
Matt: "What do you think you are your best attributes on ice?"
Michelle: "As far as elements go, I would probably say my split jumps; those have always been the most fun for me! More generally, I think that my best skating quality is that I always put 100% into anything that I'm doing, whether it is working on a new jump or spin, learning some choreography. The best thing you can do is to just go for it!"
Matt: "Just go for it sounds like some risky advice to beginners who may be nervous about the ice and falling. What message or advice would you have for those who are just starting out?"
Michelle: "Practice makes perfect!! But really, I would say to just enjoy your skating time. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but you will go so far in this industry if you put in the effort. Whenever I am at an ice rink, I am there to work on something. That doesn't mean I don't chat and have fun while I'm there, but skating definitely comes first. You can always learn something new if you just work on it - I'm still learning things today, and I've been skating for almost 17 years!"
Matt: "What is your fondest memory from competition?"
Michelle: "My fondest memory is definitely from 2013 at State Games of America in Pennsylvania. It was an ISI competition, so I entered a ton of events just for fun. But, the biggest event (and most nerve-racking!) was Senior Competitive Test Track. For this, I had to do my 4-minute long program in a group of about 12 girls, which I hadn't done in a while! My warmup went really well, and I just remember having this feeling of pure happiness when it was my turn to skate and the music started. I skated a clean program - probably the best program I have ever done in competition, and when I got off the ice I was doing this combination of laughing and crying because I was so happy. Tommy and my mom were standing there with me, and we were all just laughing and hugging. After waiting for a little while, I found out that I won my group!! This actually makes me tear up a bit as I'm talking about this - I had never felt like that after a competition before."
Matt: "What is the best thing about Coach Tommy?"
Michelle: "Coach Tommy is one of the greatest people I know, and has had such a positive influence on my skating and my life in general. I can't possibly just pick one thing! As a coach, he knows your limit and pushes you to be the best you can be. I love how when I come home, we still work together on new spins, different techniques for a jump, or just whatever random things he wants me to try to do. As I've gotten older, our dynamic has changed and he gives advice on my career in the show industry, helps me to verbalize my skating techniques so that I can help other skaters, and just shares stories with me about life. I couldn't ask for a better coach to have skated with for so many years."
Matt: "Why do you think Coach Tommy wants me to interview you?"
Michelle: "I think that he wants to show the younger skaters at the rink some different ways that skating can be a part of your life. When most people start skating, they automatically have their sights set on the Olympics, but there are so many other paths you can take to continue skating after competitions. I have started skating professionally in a show in Germany. I'm getting a chance to see the world, meet people from every place imaginable AND do what I love every day. Some people will want to go into coaching (every time I'm home, Tommy lets me give skaters tips on things to help me with my "coaching" skills, which I love!). I guess that I'm one of the "older girls" from the rink, so maybe some of the younger generation will like to learn a little more about me and the importance that skating plays for me on a daily basis.
Matt: "What did you love about the Ice Sports Forum?"
Michelle: "In a nutshell, the Ice Sports Forum is my home away from home. I may even have spent more time there than I have anywhere else! It has always been the place that I feel most relaxed at, and everyone there is family. I've been going there since the age of 6, and have done everything from skating there, to being a skate guard/DJ/laser tag host, setting up annual competitions and shows, helping with Learn to Skate camps; you name it, I've probably done it. Even when I was in college in Orlando, I would come home to visit on the weekends and make sure to skate on Saturday mornings. No matter where skating takes me in life, I will always credit ISF for being the place that I grew to love skating at.
It was a pleasure talking with Michelle and we wish her the best in a long, exciting skating career!
To learn more about skating programs at the Ice Sports Forum, please visit our website at www.icesportsforum.com or contact Skating Director Tommy Brannen at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay up-to-date on all Ice Sports Forum happenings be sure to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter, @Brandon_ISF.