Ice Network

Carter making transition from rink to classroom

Former world competitor from Down Under studies for a career in medicine
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Joanne Carter put down roots back home in Australia with partner Rory Walsh and their beloved dog, Lok. -Courtesy of Joanne Carter

Joanne Carter burst onto the international skating scene with an 11th-place finish at the 1997 World Championships. While the seven-time Australian champion never quite matched that result, she did make a distinct imprint on the sport over the next decade, including earning a spot at the Olympic Winter Games in 1998 and 2006.

When Carter decided to end her competitive career, she kept on skating. She spent the next six years flourishing in the show world, with various productions of Holiday on Ice.

"It happened at the right time," said Carter, whose first Holiday on Ice production was Spirit, choreographed by Robin Cousins and Karen Kresge. "While I was doing shows, I tried to keep up the technical side of things. I was doing triples all through my show career, triple flips included. I enjoyed that part of it and pushing myself to do it.

"Show skating was enjoyable; there was an appreciation from the crowd," she added. "You get to do it almost in a team environment. Everybody is skating for the same reason and that is to entertain the crowd. It added a different dimension for me. The emphasis was more, 'If you're enjoying what you're doing out there, then the audience will enjoy it.' It became more about connecting with an audience."

She skated in the tours for Spirit, Mystery, Peter Pan and Festival, traveling through Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Great Britain, while also setting dates in Central and South America. Carter loved the travel, especially being able to do it with castmates.

"The cast I was skating with were of a very high caliber, and I enjoyed skating with them and feeding off them," Carter said. "I never wanted to let my level of skating go, though I always said that if the level of my skating dropped, it was time for me to retire."

That thought process was what eventually led Carter to put more of an emphasis on her life away from the ice.

"I reached a point where I knew it wouldn't be sustainable forever," she continued. "I didn't want to be in a situation where I left it for too long to come home and start something else. It was a decision on my part that I had a lot of good years with skating, but it was time to come home, lay down some roots and make some plans for an extended future."

Today, Carter, 36, is back home in Australia, dividing her time between Sydney, where she attends medical school, and Perth, where partner Rory Walsh is a doctor. She studied physical therapy while she was still competing and worked for a time in the field. After her time with Holiday on Ice, she returned to work but decided she wanted to go back to university and study medicine. Carter recently completed her second year.

"At this stage, I'm a little bit undecided (on a specialty)," Carter said. "The two specialties that I'm very interested in would be accident and emergency, and anesthetics. My partner's an anesthetist. They say you go in with one idea and come out with another, so we'll see."

She also coaches five days a week, which is relatively easy to balance, as kids mostly skate before and after school.

Despite a busy schedule, Carter still accepts the occasional short-term skating gig. This week she headed off to Singapore to skate in a holiday show for three weeks.

"It's a really enjoyable show and the people are lovely," she said. "It gives me an opportunity to keep skating. I don't want to be off the ice completely. I miss it too much when I can't skate, so anything like this small Singapore show I love to do because it gives me an opportunity to remember why I skate. It's a really fun feeling for me."