Two New Programs

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to drop by and give everyone an update on what I’ve been up to this spring. I’m actually on my way home from Atlanta as I had a costume fitting with Brad Griffies for the upcoming season 🙂 I think the costumes are going to turn out pretty neat! Anyways, I have been extremely busy this spring, but I have been loving it. Right after the U.S. Championships, I started taking online classes full time through a community college back home in MN. I’ve really missed pushing myself education wise and am happy I made the decision to get back into school. I am actually going to be taking classes full time this summer and in the Fall as well. It has been quite the adjustment managing school with skating and also trying to teach in my free time, but I think it was a smart decision for me.

On a note with skating, I have two new programs that I am looking forward to debuting at the Broadmoor Open. My short program is to a song called “Trance” and was choreographed by Catarina Lindgren and Christopher Dean. It has a middle eastern vibe to it and it is very snake like. It definitely is one of the most challenging programs I have ever had choreographed, but I truly love it. My long was choreographed by Tom Dickson and is a combination of three pieces. The first piece is titled “The Christ Trilogy” by Havasi, followed by a piece of music that has chanting and saxophone, and ending with “In the act of Creation”. It’s much different from my short in terms of movement and I love the freedom that comes along with the choreography. In the long, we are also working on incorporating a quad toe and since Nationals I have been able to make a lot of progress on it. I’m actually heading to LA on Thursday to work with Mie Hamada  and Ilia Kulik on some of my jumping technique. I’m very excited!

Apart from skating and school, I have been teaching and traveling quite a bit. I taught my first axel this spring and have really enjoyed the teaching aspect of the sport. I also took a trip to Las Vegas with four of my best friends, Alexe Gilles, Piper Gilles, Jamie Wright, and Amber Ruiz. It was my first time visiting and was so much fun. We saw the show Le Rêve and it was incredibly inspiring. Once I finished up all my spring classes, I actually was able to also go to Italy for 10 days to celebrate my 25th birthday. It was an amazing trip and was a much needed break before the summer intensity amps up.

Thank you guys for all your continued support! Hope you all are doing well and enjoyed a glimpse into the world of Alex 🙂

Broadmoor Open

Pre-competition (Broadmoor Open) update: I decided to get two new programs. I wanted to let go of all that happened last season and start fresh. Catarina [Lindgren] choreographed my new short program to Rachmaninoff’s “Trio élégiaque No. 2” and Tom [Dickson] choreographed my new long program to Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. We stuck with the darker concept for the long, but changed up the short completely. The story behind the short is one that resonates with me greatly. It’s about a journey from being broken and injured, overcoming those obstacles and transforming into something that is free and beautiful. Catarina used the analogy of a bird with a broken wing that eventually becomes strong enough to fly again. It’s very synonymous with my journey over the past year and means a lot to me. The long is the story of Sweeney Todd and it’s extremely morbid and dark. It shows off a different side of my skating than anyone has ever really seen. I’m excited to debut them both at Broadmoor Open. 🙂

P.S. I hope to write a little bit more after Broadmoor Open.

Season ending injury

Hi all,

Just wanted to send you all a quick update on my life. After having such a great season last year, I was so excited to get back to work and prepare for the Olympic season. It felt amazing to finally be back on the international scene and to really start taking my skating in the direction I’ve always wanted it to go. This spring, I was training extremely well. I had the opportunity to go work with Frank Carroll a couple of times, my quad toe was right there, and my programs were really developing into something unique. In June however, I twisted my ankle on a triple axel and heard a pop. I thought that I might have just tweaked it again as I’ve been dealing with sprained ankles since 2011. I took three weeks off the ice and it started to feel better, but for some reason it felt looser than normal this time. I ended up getting back on the ice and as I was doing a choreography run through of my short, I felt my ankle pop again on a simple lunge. I decided at this point I really needed to get it looked at because I wasn’t able to train and I felt like I was wasting time. I got an MRI that Friday, got the results Monday, and had surgery three days later. I had completely torn two ligaments in my ankle and the band of fascia that wraps around the joint. At this point, it was necessary that I have surgery if I wanted to have any chance of competing this season. I was quite apprehensive about the surgery, but it was a breeze.

Today, my joint is as stable as can be and I shouldn’t have to worry about spraining my ankle ever again. My doctor used a titanium screw to hold the ligaments in my fibula as well as cadaver tissue to reinforce the support. However, my recovery isn’t going as quickly as expected and I’m not able to do everything that I would like to. I have nerve damage to my leg and it has inhibited my ability to fully use my foot. I have seen handfuls of doctors to try to fix this problem, but the only thing that I can do is wait and let my body heal over time. Needless to say, the past four months have been extremely stressful and emotionally draining as my ability to compete this season has been completely up in the air. At first I thought I was going to be able to compete, but after taking everything into consideration, my coaches and I decided it would be best to sit this season out. Clearly, this has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but it’s for the best. My ankle has been a problem since 2010 and I really wanted to rid this issue from my life. Now that this is all in the past, I can really focus my energy on recovering and becoming an even stronger skater for the 2014-2015 season. As difficult as it will be to watch Nationals in Boston, I’m still hoping to be there to support all my fellow skaters.

Wishing you all health and happiness,

Alex

A season of changes

I cannot believe how long it’s been since I last updated you guys with my life. I’ve been extremely busy this summer and fall, getting back into shape and working on new programs.

Last season was filled with many ups and downs.  I made a big decision to move out to Colorado and leave my longtime coach Joan Orvis. It definitely wasn’t an easy move as Joan is like my second mother, but I had gotten to the point where I needed something new and to start fresh somewhere else.

I started off the season pretty well and kept building after each competition. I was landing triple axel more and more consistently and was very close to landing quad toe. I had a bit of a rough Sectionals, but came away from it knowing exactly what I needed to work on.

Training after Sectionals was going extremely well and I was doing more clean longs than ever before, until I fell on a strange triple axel and sprained my ankle. Words cannot even begin to describe what was going on in my head that day as I went to the ER to have my ankle checked. I got an X-ray and the doctor said it was a Level 3 sprain and that I should stay off of it for at least six-eight weeks. Well, I knew that if I took that much time off, there would be no way for me to compete at nationals as it was only seven weeks away. So, I ended up off the ice for about three and half weeks before I finally put my skates back on.

Training for Nationals was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Not only was it physically challenging as I had to get back into shape quickly all the while trying to manage the pain as best as I could, but it was mentally draining as well.  Trying to convince yourself that you are in good enough shape to do a four and a half minute program with eight triples in it is not very easy. Nonetheless, Nationals was quite the let down and I was extremely upset, as I never got to show how I really could skate.

It’s embarrassing to go out in front of thousands of people and skate as if you have never skated before. I do look back at Nationals with a bit of regret as it was probably not the wisest decision to skate, but I did accomplish a couple of personal goals that week and have learned lots from the experience.

The biggest problem I had with competing at Nationals is that I paid for it all spring and up until the beginning of June. It turns out that I actually had severe bruising of my Talus and Tibia from the sprain and because I trained for Nationals, they were even further damaged. Bone contusions take quite some time to heal and I never allowed my body the proper amount of time to recover, because it was always a rush to get back onto the ice. I do have a bone chip in my ankle from the damage I did to it before Nationals, but luckily I am not in much pain from it and can train at a normal rate finally!

I also made a big change in July and am no longer taking from Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin.  It took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my skating and who could help me get there. After much debate, I decided to make a change. I am now taking full time from Tom Dickson, who is also my choreographer, and couldn’t be happier. He is so inspiring to work with on a daily basis and has helped me tremendously in the three short months that I’ve been working with him. I’m also working with Catarina Lindgren (Tom’s wife), Christy Krall and Erik Schulz part time.

My programs this year are probably the best programs I have ever had! My short program is to “O Mio Babbino Caro” and I absolutely love it. I have wanted to skate to this music for years and when Tom Dickson brought it in for me to listen to, I immediately knew that was it! It’s such a calming piece of music and really reflects who I am as a skater. My long is to music from the ballet, “Gayane” and it’s a very strong yet beautiful piece.

On top of my singles skating, I also will be competing in novice pairs this season. I competed in pairs a long time ago at the Juvenile level and figured I would give it a try again. I have been having fun learning all these new tricks and it should be interesting to see where this takes me. My partner, Danielle Viola, and I competed our short program a few weeks ago here at the Broadmoor and it went very well. I must say though, it was very strange competing with someone else right next to me. I almost forgot to bow with her at the end!

I have done a couple of competitions and gotten great feedback as to what I need to work on. Things are coming along quite well and I am looking forward to my next competition. Regionals will be in Dallas in a couple weeks and then it’s off to Secitonals in Fort Collins, Colo., since there are only four Senior Men at Regionals! I can’t wait to get out there again!

Apart from skating, there hasn’t been too much going on. I moved into a studio apartment back in the beginning of May and I love living by myself.  It’s only a few minutes from the rink, which is very convenient.  That’s all for now, I have a batch of brownies in the oven that I must tend to!

Thanks for all your support and interest in my skating!

 

Alex Johnson

P.S. For some more day-to-day tidbits on my life, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alex_M_Johnson. My username is Alex_M_Johnson.

Catching up

Hi all,

I know it’s been quite a while since I last wrote an update so I figured I better catch up now. This summer has been quite an experience for me.

I started the summer off the ice because of an injury to my right ankle. I was off the ice for three of the weeks in June and I was finally able to start back with actual training mid-July. I lost quite a bit of training time and had to withdraw from my home club competition (Braemar McCandless) and the Liberty Open, where I was to be monitored my U.S. Figure Skating). Fortunately, there was enough time left for me to sign up for Silicon Valley Open, which was also a competition that I could be monitored at.

I had about three weeks to train for this competition, but I managed to produce two pleasing performances. My short program was safe, but I executed every element: double Axel, triple flip-triple toe combination and triple lutz. My long was better than my short save for a flawed triple Salchow. I was very pleased with my performances and my monitoring session went great. I came away from the competition with a lot more confidence and a sense of what I needed to continue to work on.

Two weeks after SVO, I had broken in a new pair of skates. I had worn them for just one week before I competed at another competition, the Minnesota State Championships. I had been training pretty well, but definitely did not skate as well as I had expected. The short was an improvement from SVO in the sense that I skated more to the music and was more comfortable with the program, but I turned my combination jump into a triple-double. The long had a mixture of good and bad things, but definitely gave me a direction as to what to work on next.

Now that I have had some time to regroup and get back to the grindstone, things have been going well. I had a minor incident with my ankle injury and the new skates, which forced me to go back to my old pair, but other than that life is great.

I am currently taking Microeconomics online through the University of Minnesota to keep my study habits up a little and I really enjoy it. I never really thought I would miss homework, but I did.  I’m hoping next semester to maybe step it up and take two classes instead of one so I can keep working towards an undergraduate degree and not have it take 15 years, haha.

Another exciting piece of news, I was assigned to Finlandia Trophy in Helsinki, Finland. I leave October 7, and come home October 1. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to compete as a senior man for the first time internationally. It will be a great stepping-stone as I continue to work my way towards my skating dreams.

Thanks for your support,

Alex Johnson

P.S. For some more day-to-day tidbits on my life, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alex_M_Johnson. My username is Alex_M_Johnson.