Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cain excited for the senior experience

Ashley Cain has long been known for her ability to balance a single and pairs career from claiming medals at both events as a novice skater and balancing a singles Junior Grand Prix schedule and a pairs Grand Prix season.  This year, she's taking the time to focus on her own skating and is putting the extra energy into the finishing details.  This 17 year old who skates for the Stars Figure Skating Club of Texas and is coached by her parents finished 5th at JGP France.  She won the silver medal at nationals as a junior last season and is making the jump to senior ladies.  She won gold at Southwestern Regionals and gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She talked to me about winning her medal last season, her volunteer work at the rink and her goals for nationals.

Tell me about yourself outside of skating.
I have been doing online courses through Texas Tech University’s K-12 program. I have been enrolled in this program since 9th grade and I am currently in 12th grade now. I have an 18 year old brother, Brenden, who is a hockey player. He and his team won nationals last year. I also have two cats, a hamster, two gerbils, a turtle, and a rabbit.

You won the silver medal at nationals last season as a junior.  Junior Ladies is always a tough field; were you surprised with your finish?
 Any skater knows that even though you do a clean program every day in practice, you might not feel right on the day of competition. I knew that if I skated my best that I would be able to medal, so I focused on taking it one trick at a time. The field of junior ladies last season was very tough; almost every girl in the group was a part of Team USA. But I didn’t focus on that, instead I focused on my programs and to do the best that I could. I was so happy with my placement and nothing could compare to the feeling I got when they put that medal around my neck.

You attended JGP France this season.  Tell me about that experience and what you took away from it.
My experience at JGP France was not one of my best. But I learned a lot about myself there. From every experience, whether it is good or bad, you learn something from it. You can either get depressed and lose confidence in yourself or you could learn from your mistakes and put everything into your training for your next competition. I chose the second option and that is what has gotten me to where I am right now.

You set new personal bests in all segments of competition in France.  What have you been focusing on to improve your scores across the board?
To be a senior lady you need maturity in your skating. So I have worked a lot on just my basic skating and my lines/extensions. I have been working on more consistency on my jumps and having more speed in and out of them.  I have also been working on making all my spins and footwork consistent level 4s.

You're used to competing both singles and pairs.  How has this season been different with just singles on your plate?
This season is very different and new for me. Doing singles and pairs everyday was so natural for me, so I was left with having to figure out what I wanted to do with all this extra time I had. I took the time to work more on my skating skills, spins and more jump repetitions. I am now into a schedule that I feel comfortable with. This season has taught me how to have more confidence in myself and in my skating

Do you still see a pairs career in your future?
As they say, “Once a pair girl, always a pair girl”! I absolutely still love pairs and miss it a lot. I had a couple of offers but I wanted to just take this season to skate singles and see how I would do on my own. So you never know, I could be a pair girl again in the future!

You won the 3A award last season for your work on the junior board at your rink.  Can you tell me about that and what inspired you to give back to other skaters?
Figure skating has given me so much in life and it has really shaped who I am as a person. That is why I feel that is so important to give back to the sport that has given me such an amazing life journey. I want to inspire younger kids to get into sports and to stick with a goal. Many kids nowadays aren’t as committed and motivated to do things but I feel if they have someone to guide them then it might inspire them to put on that pair of skates and take their first steps on the ice. I love working with the younger kids at our rink and seeing them grow in this sport. Many of the kids at the rink are the ones who inspire me to work hard every single day and to keep pushing when it gets tough. When I see the smiles on their faces when they land a jump for the first time it makes me remember why I’m out on the ice.

You're making the jump to senior ladies nationally this season.  How do you think that will be different?  Do you think your experience competing pairs as a senior will help with the transition?
It is always hard to make the jump into seniors because it is only my first year and I will be competing against girls who have been senior for many years. I am looking to gain experience from this competition. I just want to go out and skate the best programs I can do and hopefully everything will fall into place. Pairs did help me with the transition by letting me see what it’s like to compete against veteran seniors. It will definitely be different but I am so excited!

You're coached by your parents.  Can you tell me how you balance your coach-skater relationship with your parent-child relationship?
We keep the balance by leaving what happens on the ice out there on the ice and not bringing it home with us. I absolutely love being coached by my parents! People always try to tell me that it won’t work out. I try to explain to them that it’s our relationship and we work great together and although it isn’t as common in figure skating, it is in many other sports. They push me every day to be better than I was the day before, they motivate me sometimes when I can’t seem to find the confidence to push myself and I respect them very much for that and all that they have done for me.

You won Midwestern Sectionals (your first Sectional title).  What kind of momentum do you think that gives you going into nationals?
Winning Sectionals has given me a confidence boost that I didn’t have before in my skating. Winning this title made me realize that I can be considered to be one of the top ladies in our country.  To be able to be put in a class with ladies like Ashley Wagner and Alissa Czisny is absolutely incredible.

What are your goals for nationals?
My main goal for nationals is to put out two programs that I can be happy with and enjoy the whole experience. I want get off the ice knowing that I put everything into those two programs.

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