With the ISU Grand Prix & Olympic season officially underway, Canadian pair team comprised of Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch are undoubtedly ‘ones to watch’ in the world of competitive figure skating.
This past weekend, Kirsten & Dylan began their season with two praise worthy performances at Skate America, placing second overall with a personal best score. Coming off of a 4th place finish at the World Figure Skating Championships in 2013, they look to this season with excitement and a plan to continue building on the momentum they gained last year.
Earlier this fall, Kirsten & Dylan invited us to follow them for a day in Kitchener-Waterloo where they train with coaches Kris Wirtz and Kristy Sargeant. As we watched their practice session, we quickly learned that pair skating requires more than just raw talent.
With obvious natural ability, genuine personalities and stunning athleticism, we hope (but really, we know) that the pre-Olympic competitive season road is leading straight to the Sochi Olympics for this dedicated pair.
Read through the interview below to learn more about Kirsten & Dylan’s day-to-day routine, pre-competition rituals and unwavering passion for skating.
Photography by Daniel Neuhaus
How did you get into skating?
Kirsten: My mom put me in skating when I was 2 and a half because she thought I should know how to skate. She was also a skater. I hated skating but my mom told me that once I learned how to skate, I could quit. By that point I loved it.
Dylan: When I was 13 months I skated for the first time at the Harbour Front outdoor rink. I loved it, and after that my parents put me in the CanSkate program at the West Toronto Skating Club. I kept going with it from there.
How did your partnership form?
K: Our partnership formed when my former partnership ended and Dylan’s sister and former partner, Kyra, was forced to quit because of an injury. Dylan and I were skating in the same rink so we decided to do a try out and it has worked quite well.
What is it like to work together?
D: Having a partner has its rewards and its challenges. We have a mutual understanding that no matter what happens, we discuss it as a team and as professionally as possible. Sharing the triumphs with a person, who almost feels like family, is a very rewarding experience.
Describe a day in the life of training.
K: A day in the life of training is busy! All days are different but it usually involves waking up at 5:15 am and being at the gym by 6. After an hour of cardio and sometimes an hour of yoga, I try to get a nap in. After that we skate for 2 to 3 hours. Following that I do some sort of cardio work out and three days a week go see my trainer for some weight training. Twice a week I also do some sort of Pilates reformer work out. Dylan and I also see a dance teacher once a week for work specifically on our programs.
What does it take to get to the level you’re at now?
K: See above. Just kidding haha. It takes a lot of perseverance and dedication. I suppose that’s the cliche answer but it really is true.
D: To get to the level we are at now, it takes a long term commitment. Competing at a high level does not happen over night. I have been dedicated to my sport my entire life and have had ongoing emotional and financial support from my family. The right coaching staff, personal trainers, dance instructors, sport psychologists and training environment are all essential to competing with the best in the world. Above all of that, you have to have a burning desire and determination to improve and reach your goals. Its not just a mind set, its a life style. Staying at the top of your game is a tricky balance, and one must know themselves and what is best for their careers very well. Staying committed and dedicated to this journey and giving 110% every time you train is what separates the people trying to get to the top and the ones at the top.
Coming off a successful season last year, what are you doing differently this year to push ourselves further?
D: After last year, we realized that we did something right. We aren’t changing much about our approach this year, except for having an even more confident and professional attitude. We proved to the skating world and to ourselves that we belong with the best. Now, we are aiming to beat the best.
Does it feel different because it’s an Olympic year?
D: There is definitely more hype and buzz this season. As much as we are treating it the same as any other season for the most part, there is an undeniable excitement that comes with an Olympic season.
K: We are taking this year on one competition at a time and hopefully that will lead us to skating our best possible performances at the Olympic Games.
What qualities set you as a team apart from others on the world stage?
K: I believe that would be our personality and connection as a team. Not to say that other teams don’t have great personalities as well, but I do believe that ours is fun and unique. I hope that people feel that we are personable as people and athletes.
D: We work hard on telling a story and letting people into our world when we skate. Our goal is to make our routines look genuine and authentic so that our skating moves the audience in a way that doesn’t look forced or contrived.
Figure skating is more than just an artistic sport. It requires you to capture an audience and portray the characters of your program. How do you maintain the passion day-in and day-out?
D: There are days that it is much harder to connect with the music and the character of the program. We always try to raise the level of performance on a day-to-day basis so that it is natural when we compete. We train so that we can compete the way we train.
K: You also find music that inspires you and use it to your advantage. If you can’t connect to the story it makes it extremely difficult to be passionate about it. It’s not always easy every day, but most days the music will take you to that place if you love it enough.
It’s obvious to the audience that you have genuine chemistry. How do you foster that on and off the ice?
K: We don’t really do anything to foster it I don’t think. I think it’s just our personalities!
D: I think it came pretty naturally to us as a team, but we have worked very hard on improving it every year. Understanding our characters and the story that the music and choreography are trying to portray really helps us to connect with each other as well as the audience with out it looking unnatural. We have a close, brother-sister, type of relationship that shows on the ice when we skate.
What are your rituals before performing?
K: I do a yoga warm up complete with five or six minutes of meditation and visualization before doing an active warm up with Dylan. Dylan and I always skip together using the same rope and recently have added double under skips to our repertoire. Then once I have my skates on I put on a yoga track and go through every element of our program with my eyes closed before getting on the ice.
D: I meditate in between practice and competing as well as doing visual run-throughs of our program with music. Before starting to warm up off-ice I do some kung fu breathing and focusing exercises. If my family is there, I try and say hi before its time to go.