At 14, Jordan Virata is a competitive figure skater at the Novice level based in Houston, Texas. She began skating at five years old and has been skating continuously in the nine years since then. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
When did you know you wanted to be a competitive figure skater?
One week after I started Learn to Skate. Seriously. I knew right away this is what I wanted to do.
What was it about skating that drew you to it so early on?
I liked that it was an activity – something other than recess at school – that I could do. It was different than what almost everyone else was doing. And I like the cold. [You like the cold?!] Well, not like when it’s really cold, but yes.
Now that you’ve been skating for a while, what’s your favorite thing about the sport?
Jumping. Double axels are my favorite. But, I also like hanging out with my friends at the rink and I like the competitive atmosphere. You feel it as soon as you get onto the ice. You know that you’re here to train to be better than the last competition or yesterday, even.
What about the most challenging aspect of the sport?
Making sure that before every competition – if you want to get better – you need to restrict yourself. You need to get rid of distractions to stay focused.
Since you mentioned competitions, when was your first one? Do remember anything about it?
I think I was seven. All I remember was that I was very nervous before it because I had never been on the ice for a competition before.
And today? What do you do to prepare for competition?
I run my program a lot, back to back, to prepare in the weeks leading up to competition. There’s a lot of intervals: two six jump passes in a row, a small break and then I do it all over again. On the day of, I do at least 20 minutes of guided meditation (I have a tape), 30 minutes of off-ice warm ups, 15 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of off-ice jumping and then foam rolling.
It takes a village to help you be a competitive skater, I would imagine.
Yes. My mom, my dad, my coaches. I need all of them.
How many coaches do you have and what do each of them specialize in?
I have five different coaches. There’s my main coach, Ms. Kitty, and we do jumps and program work. My secondary coach, B.J., who works with me on spins, edges, and everything that Ms. Kitty doesn’t cover. I have a ballet coach and a stretch coach. And I have a jump coach – we use the harness for working on jumps and stuff like that.
That’s a lot of professionals to work with. So, what does your average week look like?
I usually wake up at 4.00am and I’m at the rink by 5.00 – 5.15am. I’m on the ice 6 days a week. Every week, I’ll have six 30 minute lessons with my main coach and three 30 minute lessons with my secondary coach, three hours a week for off-ice training, one hour with my stretch coach, three 60 minute lessons with my ballet coach, and three 30 minute lessons with my jump coach. And I’m homeschooled so I fit my lessons in between sessions.
When you say off-ice training, what kind of exercises are you doing?
We do jump rope, ladder drills, burpees, push-ups, squats, calf-raises, running, rotational jumps, off-ice axel jump practice, things like that.
What are your goals for skating?
The 2022 Olympics. And then before that placing first in sectionals, regionals, nationals, any competition really.
So you see skating as your career? This is what you’re going to do with your life and you already know that at 14?
Absolutely. Yes, this is it. My life is skating. I’m an assistant coach now for Learn to Skate, and I also teach Skate Therapy, which is a program to teach kids with disabilities how to skate.
That’s sounds like a great program to be a part of.
It is. Their website is skatetherapy.org if you want to check it out and get more information.
I will, thanks! Last question: what advice do you have for other skaters that might want to transition into a more competitive track?
Stay focused, keep yourself healthy, don’t eat junk food, stay fit and limber, make sure you have the right equipment and the right support network, especially from your parents. And don’t take what anybody else says as a bad thing – use it to improve, instead.