September 27, 2021
Hometown: Chino Hills, California, USA
Spirit Animal: Sparrow – “They’re very quick and intelligent little things, but I feel like people overlook them a lot because they are found in so many places. I also think they’re very lovely and intricate birds! ALSO, my Patronus is a sparrow and that made me very happy.”
Courtney began skating at the age of five and represents the United States on the international circuit.
“I got started because it sounded like something interesting and fun, and it developed really quickly from there.
She attended Junior Nationals and Nationals at a variety of different levels and won the Junior Ladies title in 2011 under her former coach John Nicks. She credits Mr. Nicks for taking her to her first ever international event, Junior Worlds, as well as her first international title at a Junior Grand Prix.
During her senior debut in 2013, she captured the pewter medal at the US Championships while under the direction of Alex Chang and Jere Michael. In 2014, Courtney was an alternate for the US Olympic Team and placed fifth at Four Continents. They also coached Courtney to her second Junior Worlds event, first senior international title, and first Grand Prix medal (silver) at the NHK Trophy in 2015.
In 2016, while taking from Todd Sand and Jenni Meno, she also acquired a bronze medal at Rostelecom Cup.
Later, she moved to Colorado to train with Kori Ade and is currently training at Ice Hall with Christy Krall and Damon Allen.
Q: What is your ultimate goal with skating?
“My ultimate goal was always going to the Olympics. I got very close and was an alternate in 2014, and I am very proud of that.”
Describe yourself in one word.
“Adventurous. I have approached pretty much everything I’ve done, including skating, from the angle of getting the most fun and interest out of everything, and maximizing my growth.”
Q: Who is someone in your life that inspires or motivates you?
“I definitely admire Scott Hamilton a lot! He’s a very selfless and caring person, but also has worked very hard throughout his life and has always managed to maintain a positive attitude.”
Q: Who was your skating ‘role-model’ when you were younger?
“I looked up to Michelle Kwan immensely because I liked her athletic skating style; then later Yuna Kim because I loved her speed and jump height.”
Q: What is your favourite type of off-ice training?
“I really like explosive and quick twitch exercises. I feel like those type of workouts are the most beneficial for me and the way that I skate. I also find them the most fun.”
Q: What is your favourite element in skating?
“…Absolutely a triple flip. It’s a very easy and free jump for me, and I just love the power that I can generate from it!”
“My least favourite element is probably spirals. I’ve never been naturally flexible, and I always struggled to do things that I wasn’t good at; Philip Mills and Jonathan Cassar both really pushed me to work on the extension and the position, and now I think I have quite a nice spiral. It only gets easier the more you practice it!”
Q: Do you do any type of visualization or meditation?
“I use visualization a lot when I’m in periods where I can’t skate due to injury or any other issues. I started doing that when I was about 15, but I’ve been using visualization at competitions as part of my warm-up for many years. I think it’s extremely helpful and just gives an extra layer of focus and confidence, especially with mapping out the program and knowing all of my spatial cues, which are very important for me.”
Q: Do you have any pre-competition superstitions, rituals, or routines?
“Not necessarily superstitions, but I always like to have pineapple while I’m warming up off-ice. It started because as a Juvenile girl, at my first regionals, I had pineapple while I was warming up and then won, and after that I just continued doing it.”
Q: It’s time for your long program, you’re on the ice in your starting position, waiting for your music to start… what are you thinking?
“I’m usually not thinking of much at that point! A lot of times I try to focus on controlling my breathing.”
Q: Have you ever endured some type of adversity during your skating career?
“I have had two major injuries over the years, and many less major ones. In 2011, I was competing at the JGP in Milan, Italy and on the opening jump of my freeskate, my patellar tendon underwent so much stress that is disconnected the growth plate from my tibia; it also fractured the tibia. I had to have surgery to reattach the growth plate, and couldn’t move my leg for two months. I was off of the ice for three months and not jumping for four. I followed my PT and surgeon’s advice and came back very strong and [even] healthier than before. My senior debut was that following season and I finished fourth place at my first National Championship as a Senior Lady.”
“My second major injury was just within this past year. Coming off of the craziness that was returning to the ice during COVID, I managed to tear away at my labrum in my hip. Eventually, I frayed the labrum off of the femoral head and had to have surgery to repair the labrum and the cartilage damage. That was in January, and I was off of the ice again for three months and unable to jump for an additional two months. I’m now fully back to being able to do everything and slowly getting my triples back!”
Q: How has skating prepared you for life?
“I have definitely learned how to always push on and continue forward towards growth, even if it’s just small steps at a time. A big thing in skating is the ability to adapt and improve, even when circumstances are less than ideal. I think the ability to do that is an incredibly helpful skill to have.”
Q: On days that you don’t feel like training, what keeps you motivated?
“I always try to remember that it is just one day, and even if I am really just not in the mental or physical place to be able to fully train, I can still go in and get something done that will further my training.”
Q: Any advice for young and aspiring skaters?
“Don’t be afraid to try new ways of doing things. Everyone is different and has a different skating style. I think it’s important to find what works best for you instead of getting stuck in one specific way of doing things. You always want to maximize your growth, not limit it.”
Q: What is it that you love most about skating?
“I love the opportunity to skate fast and just enjoy the edges and the jumps. I love how expressive it can be while also being incredibly athletic; trying to push myself to do as much of both sides of the sport as I can is really rewarding.”
Q: Do you have any stand-out memories from skating?
“I remember finishing my freeskate at the 2014 US Championship as I got a standing ovation after almost a clean program. It was one of the best programs that I had ever skated at Nationals, and it was coming off of the absolute worst short program that I have ever done in competition.”
“In that moment, I was proud of myself for not giving up and feeling bad for myself after the short, and instead fighting back and finishing in a way that I could be happy with.”
Q: If skating didn’t exist and you could be anything else in the world what would it be?
“I would probably be a gymnast! I think it’s a very similar sport in many ways and I think I would have enjoyed it immensely!”
“Alternatively, I would go straight into being a full time nature photographer out exploring the incredible scenery that the world has to offer.”
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of skating?
“I absolutely love nature photography. My eventual goal is to be a full time photographer…”
Currently, Courtney has photos for sale on Getty Images and is working on starting her own photography and design business.
“The past five years or so have really shown me just how passionate I am about photography and exploration, and I’ve recently begun putting together a plan to pursue that once I retire from skating.”
She also does a lot of painting, for decoration on things like jackets, water bottles and similar items.
“I also really enjoy hiking and camping!”
Q: Where is one place you’ve never been but hope to visit?
“I absolutely need to visit Iceland! It has been a bucket list destination for me for so many years. The landscapes and natural beauty there are absolutely stunning and I would love to photograph it.”
Q: What are you up to now?
“I am currently on the way back from hip surgery and trying to get back into full competition shape! I plan to finish out the season and skate in a way that I can be proud of. I’m also laying down the foundations for starting my business after I do finally retire from competitive skating.”
Lastly, what does it mean to you to have a #ChampionshipMindset?
“To me, a #ChampionshipMindset means being prepared to keep pushing even when things get difficult. The ability to persevere against all odds is something that I think is incredibly valuable. Even if you never become a literal champion, it will help you become a champion in so many other ways.”