December 15, 2021
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Discipline: Ice Dance with Bruce Waddell
Favourite hype-up music: A mix of Macklemore, Doja Cat and Pitbull.
Spirit Animal: “Hummingbird. My cottage is littered with them in the summer, and I am so fascinated by their ability to move so fast, yet so gracefully at the same time.”
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Natalie began skating at the age of five at the Niagara-On-The-Lake Figure Skating Club.
“My brothers were both enrolled in the CanSkate program, and I would always have to wait in the stands for them to finish on weekends. Instead of patiently waiting, I was constantly moving around and making noise, to the point where my mom stuck me in the program to give me something to do. At first, I refused to skate because of my intense hatred for wearing a helmet, but after I got over that minor inconvenience, I was off to the races.”
Her first home rink being the Granite Club, Natalie competed in singles. She later moved to Thornhill FSC.
“I competed in Pre-Juvenile all the way to Junior Ladies and enjoyed every part of the journey. It wasn’t until I moved to the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club and started to train there for free-skate, that I was introduced to the idea of ice dancing with a partner.”
At age 11, she teamed up with Bruce Waddell for their first season in Pre-Novice dance.
“Our free dance was a flamenco program choreographed by Romain Haguenauer and I remember it being the most fun thing I had ever done on skates. Bruce and I have been partners for 6 years, and I still have the same joy when performing with him as I did that first season.”
Q: Have you had any significantly influential coaches throughout your career?
“One important mentor for me was my first free-skating coach, Patty Cranston. Patty was the coach who introduced me to the artistry of figure skating and really ignited my passion for performance. Since I was so young when I started working with her, all I wanted to do was jump 24/7 but Patty took the time to teach me skating skills and all other aspects of the sport before we would jump, which is something I am so grateful for. I am extremely lucky to have her in my life and would not be where I am without her help and encouragement.”
Q: What is your favourite memory from skating?
“Competing at the Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany will always hold a special place in my heart. To this day, it is my favourite place to have ever been. The town is beautiful, the ice cream is amazing, and the rink is my favorite one that I have ever competed in. It was also my first international with Bruce, so it will always be an important place to me.”
Earning the bronze in the Mixed NOC team event at the Youth Olympic Games, the team also competed at the Junior World Championships in 2020.
“My favourite moment from my skating career would be the 2020 Youth Olympics. hat competition was truly my favourite event that I have ever participated in and holds a special place in my heart. Lausanne was such a beautiful city, and the IOC did an amazing job hosting the event. Meeting athletes from Canada and all over the world who compete in different sports was eye opening and allowed me to make friendships that I still have to this day.”
Other career highlights for Natalie and Bruce include Pre-Novice and Novice Canadian national titles as well as capturing the bronze at the Junior level in 2019.
They have also medaled at multiple Junior Grand Prix events including earning the silver in Egna, Italy in 2019 and the gold in Kosice, Slovakia this past September.
Outside of the arena, in addition to being an honor-roll student, Natalie was a 2021 Petro Canada FACE Recipient. The Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence Program is a grant program working directly with national sport federations to assist up and coming athletes who are on the trajectory to represent Canada in the Olympic of Paralympic Games and do not yet qualify for government funding.
Describe yourself in one word.
“Passionate… To me, [this word] it holds strength, fire and positive energy which are three things that I consider myself to have.”
Q: What’s your favourite motivational or inspirational quote?
“That one’s simple, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.””
“This quote is relevant for every program we build. Sometimes when we are learning a new program or getting ready to perform it, I expect everything to be perfect the first time. Of course, this is never the case and I have to remind myself that new skills take time and if I could do them right away, they are too easy.”
Q: Who is someone in your life that inspires or motivates you?
“Since I am lucky enough to skate at TCSCC (Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club), I am surrounded by some of the best skaters in the world every day. The atmosphere and positive energy in the rink, is something that I look forward to everyday before practice. Having such a tight knit group of skaters all rooting for and supporting each other helps me get through the hard days and gives me a second family to celebrate the good ones with as well.”
Q: Who was your skating role-model when you were younger?
“When I was younger, my role models changed quite frequently. The first one I can remember having a big influence on me was Joannie Rochette, especially around the 2010 Olympics. Her courage and strength was something that I admired and wished to have one day.”
Q: What is your favourite element in skating?
“Usually when I’m asked this question, I say that my favorite element is a lift or the choreo step, but this year I honestly can’t pick one. I find that picking elements that you like more than others makes you think the ones you didn’t pick are harder for you or not as fun to compete.”
“When you look at all the elements as equal, the whole program blends together much more seamlessly and is also easier to mentally tackle when those competition nerves kick in! So, I don’t have a least favorite element this year but needless-to-say training and milage are what I’m most energetic about.”
Q: What is your favourite type of off-ice training?
“Recently, I have been enjoying running, ballet, and dance … but hey, does walking to get ice cream count as off-ice?”
Q: Do you do any type of visualization or meditation?
“As of now, I don’t currently use any visualization techniques before competition. Sometimes the night before I will think through my program before I go to bed, but this usually ends up with me forgetting a step in my mind and panicking trying to find a video of the choreography to remember.”
Q: Do you have any pre-competition rituals or superstitions?
“One ritual that I have is to complete a set of twizzles while waiting for the team before us to receive their marks. For some reason, I have convinced myself that doing a sequence on my own is necessary for them to be successful in the run through.”
“I also always have my stuffed animal Pochacco with me in my bag or at the boards during comps.”
Q: How do you remain composed and focused under pressure at major competitions?
“No matter what the scenario is, my coach ALWAYS says the same thing before we take the ice, “Ok guys, have fun,” que British accent. It’s become a bit of a joke between us because in-the-midst of the gut wrenching nerves, it’s so easy to forget that performing is fun and it’s what we love to do, so it always makes us laugh a little and release some tension.”
Q: Did you ever endure some type of adversity in your career?
“I am very fortunate to have experienced little adversity in my career thus far. I have the most amazing support team around me, from family to coaches to teachers that have helped me manage my physical and mental ups and downs throughout the years.”
“One of the biggest challenges I faced was when I was balancing two junior disciplines and high school simultaneously. Although I loved both disciplines, I knew that trying to be competitive in both would not give me enough time to focus on school, which is also very important to me.”
“When I chose to end my free-skating career, it definitely took a mental toll on me because of how much time I had devoted to the discipline. I knew that I was letting go of a part of skating that I felt very strongly about, but also that my heart belonged to ice dance.”
“Making the decision to stop free-skating was difficult, but since I had so much love for ice dance, it didn’t take me long to get over it and move on. This was one of the biggest and scariest decisions I have made in my skating career, but it taught me that sometimes by letting go of something you like, will make room for double the joy in other things you truly love.”
Q: What is your ultimate goal with skating?
“With the sport of figure skating rapidly changing, I like to take things year by year and focus on more short-term goals. Usually, at the beginning of the season, our team will sit down and discuss some larger goals for the year like qualifying for a competition or medaling somewhere. Once we have got the big goals out of the way, we usually start to breakdown what will be needed to achieve them.”
“When setting bigger goals, it’s easier to get wrapped up in the end result, rather than the process which can actually limit your chances of achieving them.”
“With all that being said, the Olympics would be amazing and after the Youth Olympic Games, I can’t even imagine what the Olympics would be like. For now, we are taking it season by season and we are focusing on conquering the junior ranks.”
Q: What does a typical day during your season consist of?
“…training, school, an off-ice run, extra online marketing courses, and eating and sleeping.”
Q: On days that you don’t feel like training, what keeps you motivated?
“If I’m ever having an off day, one of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies or a large bowl of cottage granola will give me the extra kick needed to get to the rink and enjoy a practice.”
“On a more serious note, the thought that my competitors are out there working away and could be having one of their best training days is always a motivator. Even if my day isn’t going great or I don’t feel up to it, the world doesn’t revolve around me and getting through those days where I would rather not be training will give me that last bit of confidence when I step on the ice for competition.”
Q: What is it that you love most about skating?
“I love travelling, meeting new people, and of course the feeling of accomplishment when standing on the podium. Nothing feels better then laying down a great skate and reaching a new personal best. That feeling is definitely one of the things that fuels me every day in practice.”
Q: How has skating prepared you for life outside of the arena?
“Skating has taught me countless lessons including perseverance, time management, self- regulation and discipline. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from skating is that things will always turn out better if you approach them from a place of positivity and joy. This goes for competitions, tests at school and all of life’s challenges. The more positive energy and optimism you put out in the world, the better your chances for success will be and you will be able to learn more from every scenario.”
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of skating?
“Outside of skating, I LOVE to bake almost everything. More recently, I have been enjoying finding recipes that have wholesome, nutrient dense ingredients to help fuel me through my training days. Another thing that I love is photography. A few years ago, my dad bought me a Cannon camera and almost every chance I get, I try to use it and experiment with different kinds of photos.”
Q: What is something funny or unique that most people don’t know about you?
“There is nothing that comes to mind immediately, but if I didn’t figure skate, I would most likely be a tennis player! When I was younger, I played at the Ontario level before making the choice to pursue skating. I still enjoy playing with my brothers when possible and will continue to play leisurely as I get older.”
Q: If skating didn’t exist and you could be anything else in the world what would it be?
“If I could be anything in the world, I would love to own my own chain of grocery stores that sold health foods at affordable prices to make them more accessible for everyone. Some stores that have a reputation of being healthier are notorious for having extremely high-priced foods and products.”
“I think that healthy foods and options that make you feel better and give you more energy should be available for everyone at prices that are reasonable. By doing something in this field I would be able to satisfy both my love for food and business, but I’m open to trying so many other career paths and it’s still too early to make any decisions.”
Q: Do you have any aspirations/career goals outside of skating?
“As of now, my goal is to finish high school and get into one of my top choices of business programs. I am not sure exactly what I would like to specialize in for my career after skating, but I’m sure that in time, I will pick a path that is best suited for me.”
Q: Do you have any advice for young and aspiring skaters?
“The best person to compare yourself to is yourself. When I was younger, I would constantly compare my abilities to everyone around me and I started spending more time focusing on other people than myself. This made me lose track of my own improvements and often times, left me frustrated.”
“If I could go back and tell my younger self something, it would be that comparing yourself to others in a sport like figure skating, when people improve at their own paces, is next to useless. You should be focused on enjoying the process and testing your own limits every day. That is where the real leaps and strides are made.”
Q: Where is one place you’ve never been but hope to visit?
“One year, I would love to visit every Christmas market I possibly could in Germany. My plan would be to for the entire month of December and travel to each one.”
Lastly, what does it mean to you to have a #ChampionshipMindset?
“To me, having a #ChampionshipMindset, means approaching every competition with 100% belief in yourself, gratitude for the process that got you there, and support for your fellow athletes.”
“Although you are at a competition to compete for yourself, you are responsible for the energy you choose to create around you and being a true champion means that energy should be uplifting, filled with gratitude and contagious in a good way.”