Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Alissa Czisny, figure skating champion — and lesson in persistence

with 3 comments

Alissa Czisny is 23 years old and a figure skater from the United States.  She’s also the two-time U.S. National Champion, winning in 2009, and again this year in 2011.  And if you only knew that about her — not knowing about her 10th place finish last year in 2010, about her 9th place finish in 2008, about her up and down career before that — you’d think she’d had an easy, and perhaps even tranquil, existence.

But knowing that she’s had an up and down career, not to mention that she’s now 23 years of age, which is ancient for a female figure skater (many of the best in the world are 18 or less), changes that perception immeasurably, doesn’t it?

I’ve watched Ms. Czisny’s career for the past seven or eight years; she has beautiful spins, gorgeous spirals, and yet her jumps were never quite up to snuff.  She also battled her nerves, which endeared her to me as I knew when I used to perform that nerves were the final hurdle I needed to jump before performing well.  These two areas — nerves and jumps — had to be part of why her performances were, to be charitable, wildly inconsistent.

However, now she has new coaches,  Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato (he a former US pairs National champion, she a former World gold medalist for Japan), a new and much more reliable jump technique, and much better control over her nerves. 

All of this has resulted in outstanding performance after outstanding performance this past year, with Ms. Czisny winning the Grand Prix finale, winning Skate Canada, coming in third at Trophée Eric Bompard, and winning the Midwestern Sectionals before winning, easily, the U.S. National championship last night.

Clearly, Ms. Czisny’s new coaches, along with her re-work on her jumping technique to make her jumps more consistent, have helped her greatly.  But what impresses me most about Ms. Czisny is the fact that she’s persisted.  She’s refused to give up, and while she apparently considered quitting after her dismal 10th place performance last year at the U.S. Nationals, she knew she had more to give.  And she was right.

Look.  I root for Alissa Czisny for three reasons.  The first is because she’s a gorgeous skater, with beautiful lines, and she does things I could never do with an ease and serenity that I find extremely appealing.  The second is because she’s 23 — ancient, in her sport — and she’s only getting better as a skater.  The third is because I root for the underdog, big-time, and Ms. Czisny qualifies because of her past inconsistency, and because of her indifferent performances on the international stage prior to this year.

Watching Alissa Czisny skate is like watching a ballerina on ice.  She’s just that graceful, and looks so perfect as a skater that people “ooh” and “ah” over her even when she does the most basic moves.  (Of course, all that “oohing” and “ah-ing” gets considerably louder when Ms. Czisny spins.   She has to be the best female spinner in the world, with grace and center and perfect positions and forms.  No one can outclass her in that area — no one.)

But I think the main reason people root for her, myself included, is because we want her to succeed.  She’s been out there competing on a high level for the past eight or nine years, and has so many strengths, but it’s never quite been her time.

It looks like 2011 is now, finally, Alissa Czisny’s time.

Let that be a lesson to everyone — persist, and don’t give up.  Don’t let anything stop you if you know you’re right.  Be like Alissa Czisny instead, and let yourself soar.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

January 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Alissa Czisny, figure skating champion — and lesson in persistence ……

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

    World Spinner

    January 30, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  2. […] last year I wrote a blog about Alissa Czisny (link is here), and that blog goes double for her performance this year in the 2012 United States Women’s […]

  3. […] for this woman.  She has tried her heart out over the years; I’ve written posts about her persistence and her elegance and grace; this is a woman who tries hard, has rallied back from huge defeats, […]


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