June 14, 2021
Gian-Quen - “Gigi”
Country: South Africa
Fun Fact: “I am a complete Harry Potter Nerd. The obsession is real.”
Hype Up Song: Eminem – Lose Yourself
Spirit Animal: cub
Gian-Quen began her skating career at the age of seven. Initially, she was interested in playing ice-hockey, but never having skated before, she was advised to join a learn-to-skate club first. After about 2 weeks, the head coach explained to her mother that she had the potential to train competitively.
“Not knowing what that meant, we said we ‘kk’” and she gave it a try. She was introduced to her coach Megan Painczyk, “and the rest as they say was history.”
Gian-Quen recalls how she truly fell in love with the sport after observing her first competition.
“From the costumes to the programs, I remember telling my mom, ‘I will be there next year’ & I was.”
While also still attending high school, Qian-Quen currently trains in Cape Town, South Africa and most recently defended her Junior National title at the beginning of June 2021.
Her favourite element is her triple toe, which she dubs her “party trick”, and she has competed on the Junior Grand Prix Circuit for two seasons. Like most skaters, she dreams of competing at the Olympics and is doing her best to make this dream a reality.
Q: Who is someone (outside of skating) that inspires or motivates you?
“This is a difficult one as I have so many who inspire and motivate me, but the one who stands out is definitely my uncle. He always reminds me to never forget that I am enough and that no matter what, he is in my corner & so very proud of me. His favorite saying that I grew up with and still try to live up to was, “Always strive to be a better version of yourself, remember, God brings us to our knees to bring us closer to him.””
Q: Who was your skating ‘role-model’ when you were younger?
“My skating idol when I was younger was Alexei Yagudin. His was also not an easy road to Olympic Glory 2002, but his command of himself when skating a program [was inspiring]. My aim was to be as good as him one day.
Q: Do you have any pre-competition rituals or superstitions?
“The night before a competition, I must have Spaghetti Bolognaise. On comp day, I prefer to meditate and be on my own away from everyone until after I’ve competed.”
Q: Do you do any type of visualization or meditation?
“I do visualization before I get on the ice to compete or warm up before a practice & this I’ve done since the beginning. [I] meditate everyday for 20 minutes just to re-group . The meditation technique was introduced to me by my uncle’s father-in-law earlier in the year and I’ve found that it helps. I often get laughed at or mocked when I do it between skating breaks but I cut myself off and continue as I’ve found it helps.”
Q: You’re at a competition, on the ice, in your starting position, waiting for your music to start… what are you thinking?
“Don’t mess up.”
Q: What is your favourite type of off-ice training?
“Ballet; just a sense of regrouping and reconnecting with yourself and your body.”
Q: Did you ever endure any type of setback/adversity/injury/etc throughout your career? How did you overcome it?
“As difficult as this question is, I’ve definitely experienced almost every form of adversity there is from mental health, to financial stress to injury to bullying in some form or another. My biggest challenge personally, would be the battle I have with-in myself mentally, over-thinking every part of my program, petrified of failure to the point where instead of enjoying the program, I start worrying about any repercussions [for] when I make a mistake before I even start skating.🥺 Finances in the sport [are] the biggest obstacle for most skaters and worrying about whether you will be able to attend any competition, be it local, National or international competitions adds to the mental stress as you realize what the costs involved are in getting you there. You feel that weight of you having to succeed as it might be viewed as you’ve wasted an opportunity that could’ve been afforded to someone else or funds could’ve been used in the home. This is by no means an easy sport and to help overcome these challenges, I am so blessed with an amazing support team & my constant reminder to myself, that I made a promise to myself, to never forget why I fell in love with skating to begin with.”
“[Skating] is where I can truly be myself. No matter what type of day I’ve had at school or at the rink, once my blades touch the ice it’s as if the ice whispers, welcome home, we’ve got this.
Q: Have you learned any life lessons from skating?
“I’ve learned to get up after every fall and fight to achieve success. Also, that I must make myself proud and prove myself to no one but myself; that I can achieve anything I put my mind to through sheer hard work, determination, and discipline.
Apart from reading in her spare time, Gian-Quen enjoys learning about science and would like explore a career in Science, Engineering or Accounting someday. She also wishes to visit the US, “purely to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”
Q: What is one piece of advice that you have for young skaters?
“Don’t ever let your circumstances define you. Never give up on yourself and always make yourself proud, for you are enough.”
Lastly, what is your definition of having a #ChampionshipMindset?
“It means not letting the fear of failure stand in your way to becoming Great.”