Ice Network

Life in Florida sunny for former world junior champ

Larson staying busy with coaching, running own business, being a dad
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Former world junior champion Erik Larson and his wife, Roseann, help to coach their 9-year-old daughter, Annabelle. -courtesy of Erik Larson

Erik Larson has found the perfect work/life balance. In addition to coaching at the Palm Beach Skate Zone in Lake Worth, Florida, he is a father to his 9-year-old daughter, Annabelle, and runs BellaICE Skating Events with his wife, Roseann, who also coaches.

"Florida is beautiful," said Larson, the 1985 world junior champion. "We came from Branson, Missouri, and we were happy to get out of the snow."

Prior to moving to Florida about 11 years ago, the Larsons spent five years in Branson, where they skated in theater shows produced by the Osmond family at the Osmond Family Theater. Larson calls Jimmy Osmond one of the best bosses he ever had.

"It was a three-ring stage. On the right side of the stage you had a live band. In the middle stage you had tank ice. Then on the far left stage were dancers," Larson said. "The brothers would come in to perform. Sometimes Donny would show up."

That was the longest-running gig in Larson's decade-long pro career, which began in 1992. As a competitor, he twice won the silver medal in junior men's at the U.S. championships and was a two-time pewter medalist as a senior. Since becoming a performer, he has skated in everything from Ice Capades to park shows to productions by such companies as Glacier Ice and Rick Porter. He said skating in Dorothy Hamill's Cinderella: Frozen in Time and Gershwin on Ice with Peggy Fleming were especially exciting.

"I really enjoyed performing, more so than competing as an amateur," he added. "When you're performing in a show, you're having a great time. That was probably the best part of skating."

Larson does have several great memories from his competitive days. Perhaps the most poignant was winning the world junior title, especially since the competition took place in Colorado Springs, the first time it was ever held on U.S. soil.

During his career, he worked with several coaches, including Barbara Roles Williams, Carlo Fassi, Robin Cousins and Janet Champion.

"I cherish some of the memories with these coaches," he said.

Now a coach himself, Erik and Roseann help train their daughter, who is in pre-juvenile. He hopes to be at regionals next year with Annabelle and another one of his students.

"What I really like about teaching is seeing the smiles you can get from those little kids that you're teaching -- skating with them, seeing the excitement on their faces when they're learning something new." Larson said.

When he was a competitor, Larson actually invented a unique spin, dubbed the "Larson Spin." He encourages his skaters to bring the same kind of ingenuity to the ice as he did.

"With the students I have, I'm always trying to push them further," Larson said. "You can see what they're capable of, so I give encouragement and direction."

As a coaching team, the Larsons perfectly complement each other: Roseann is the choreographer, and Erik is the technician. Known for his artistry as a competitor, he said Annabelle has a similar style to her father.

"Her program is set to music from Beauty and the Beast," he said. "She definitely interprets it."

When's he's not at home or at the rink, Larson is building rinks. In running BellaICE, which he named after his daughter, Larson and his staff install portable 60x25 synthetic ice surfaces for myriad events -- indoor and outdoor. The company has done an annual event for the village of Key Biscayne; set up the rink for parties, including a bat mitzvah (which was in a ballroom); and has been hired by colleges and universities.

"We have perimeter boards and a seating area and skate box," Larson said. "During the holidays, we decorate the fencing with LED so it's pretty at night."