Ice Network

You raise me up, Pt. 2: More stories of inspiration

Meissner idolized the Kween; Glenn received encouragement from Hughes
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Standing on the same podium as Michelle Kwan must have been the thrill of a lifetime for Kimmie Meissner, who named the nine-time U.S. champion as her biggest inspiration in skating. -Getty Images

We asked skaters to tell us about the people or performances that inspired them at some point during their careers.

Mirai Nagasu

"When I was younger, my skating inspiration was my parents. They moved to the U.S. from Japan, and it's always difficult for the first generation. There's that language barrier and the whole different culture. For them to work hard so I could have a better future has been so inspirational. I was reminded of it all the time, but I really do appreciate my parents' hard work, giving me the opportunity to pursue something that I enjoy. If my parents had never taken me to the rink and allowed me to skate all the time, I wouldn't have had the experience of traveling to so many different countries and competitions, and meeting all sorts of people.

"I just recently learned that in Vancouver there was a Slovakian skiier who fell in the qualifying round and broke her ribs. She kept skiing -- and her lung was punctured by the broken rib -- and she ended up getting the bronze medal. It's just insane how people can persevere. Things like the Olympics draw it out of people. In the gymnastics team event, this one Japanese guy broke his kneecap, but he knew if he didn't compete, his teammates wouldn't have a chance at a medal. He still did the still rings. I know what it's like to skate with injuries, but [competing with] things like broken bones, just thinking about the pain, is unreal."

- As told to Sarah S. Brannen

Gabrielle Daleman

"I was watching [Joannie Rochette's performance at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games] on television, and I turned to my mom and said, 'That's what I want to do and when I get older: I am going to the Olympics.' Joannie had always been my inspiration as a young girl growing up. I was already in skating and doing gymnastics at the same time, but I had not yet made the commitment to one sport or the other. Shortly after that, I made the commitment to skating, and the rest is history."

- As told to Vladislav Luchianov

Alexei Mishin

"I will tell you nearly secret information concerning the reason why I became a figure skater.

"I was not such a disciplined person, and I must confess that I did a lot of things which are not, um, not so good for a young boy. My father was then working at the ice skating club, and he was watching all the kids who were skating there. He noticed that lots of parents were staying around.

"Then he thought, 'This is exactly what I think my son, Alexei, needs: skating and being supervised by lots of parents all around!' This was the reason I started to skate.

"Actually, I started to skate very late. I was 15 years old when I first put skating blades on my feet. But, unexpectedly, I developed very quickly. I soon became one of the best Russian single skaters and one of the best Russian pair skaters.

(Mishin medaled at the 1968 and 1969 European championships, and at the 1969 World Championships, when he skated pairs with his then partner, renowned coach Tamara Moskvina.)

- As told to Jean-Christophe Berlot and Benoît Richaud

Angélique Abachkina and Louis Thauron

Abashkina: "I started skating in 2006. That year, I watched the Olympics and I saw Evgeni Plushenko on TV. He really inspired me. A few years later, when I had to make a choice for which sport I would choose, my mom mentioned that there was a Russian team who had won in Turin as well: Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov. I could have switched to pairs as well -- after all, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin had also won in Turin! But I think I was frightened to hurt myself if I were to do pairs. Also, ice dance was so pretty, and I thought there was so much to do there. So I opted for it."

Thauron: "Amazingly enough, I was inspired by Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder (the 2008 world champions) rather than by Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, who won the Olympics in 2002. At the time, I was skating in Paris with another partner. Isabelle and Olivier were winning every competition then. I loved their program to the "Piano Lesson." Also, I must say that Florent Amodio (2011 European champion) was a real inspiration to me. He didn't compete in ice dance, but the way he was dancing on the ice and promoting dance appealed to me. I was lucky enough to see him quite often on the French national team." 

- As told to Jean-Christophe Berlot and Benoît Richaud

Kimmie Meissner

"When I was young -- and probably still now -- Michelle Kwan was the top for me. She was one of the reasons I started skating. I remember watching her and Tara [Lipinski] at the Nagano Olympics; my mom let me stay up late so I could watch them. I was 8, and I had just started skating two years before. I was so excited by Tara's triple-triples, but Michelle -- the way she skated and the way she handles herself off the ice -- is a pretty big inspiration to me."

- As told to Sarah S. Brannen

Rachael Flatt

"I mainly drew my inspiration from people like Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, John Curry and Janet Lynn. Those four pushed the sport forward, but they had such a classic style of skating. Lori Nichol showed me videos of John Curry...that style of skating has kind of been lost along the way a little bit. I don't think my skating was representative of that, but I kind of tried, a little bit. I was just in awe of those four when I watched them."

- As told to Sarah S. Brannen

Amber Glenn

"My skating inspiration is definitely Sarah Hughes. When I was young -- probably 6 or 7 -- I had my little Cinderella Disney TV that only played CDs, and I would just watch her winning free skate from the 2002 Olympics over and over and over. She got so excited when she landed her last jump, and that's how I fell in love with skating and knew I wanted to do it.

"She has taken time to talk to me and she has given me some great advice, and I really look up to her a lot. At 2014 nationals in Boston, right after I won juniors, I went out to the Frog Pond (an outdoor rink on Boston Common). They were having an Olympic Day celebration, and I went to get Sarah's autograph, because I'm such a fan. I was still in my free skate dress, because I had just come from the award ceremony, and she was like, 'You're Amber, you just won!' And she asked me to do a show in Fenway Park with her."

- As told to Sarah S. Brannen