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Q&A with Kimberly Meissner

Meissner talks about U.S Championships and college

Kimmie Meissner was "really excited" about her gold medal at 2007 Skate America.
Kimmie Meissner was "really excited" about her gold medal at 2007 Skate America. (Michelle Harvath)

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(01/18/2008) - Reigning U.S. champion Kimmie Meissner sat down with U.S. Figure Skating on Jan. 14 for the following question-and-answer session:

Q. I understand that you are helping promote National Skating Month with Scott Gomez of USA Hockey and Olympic speedskater Chad Hedrick. How has that experience been for you?

A. It's been great. I was really honored that they asked me to help promote National Skating Month. As a kid growing up, my parents took me to the rink all the time and we had family fun on the ice. It's just a great activity you can do with the entire family and your friends. It's such an important part of my life. I just want to help other skaters or other kids who want to get on the ice.

Q. You finished first at Skate America and second at the Trophee Eric Bompard. How would you rate your Grand Prix season?

A. I thought I did really well at Skate America; I was really excited with the result. I had changed my program really close to the start of the Grand Prix season, so I was really happy with that. Going into Paris, I had actually sprained my ankle at a show, so I had to take some time off, and I couldn't really train the way I wanted to. I still was happy with getting a medal. I improved on the year before, so that was good. I think it's always about getting better.

Q. The 2007 Grand Prix Final was the first time you participated in the event, and you had to have been disappointed with the result. Do you feel you've worked out the problems from the Grand Prix Final as you head into the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships? What changes have you made in preparation for the U.S. Championships?

A. Obviously, I was very disappointed with my result. I was really excited about making it to the Final this year. It was partly probably just a bad day and partly that I've been going through a lot of changes with the program. It's been a hard year for me with everything being up and down. I was not happy about it, but I've made a couple of different changes in my program. I feel like I've really had time to train for U.S. Championships, and that was the most important thing. Going into the Grand Prix Final, I didn't have the time that I normally do for training, and with my ankle, I had to kind of alter my training a little bit. I'm happy to say, though, that I have been working really hard, so I'm very determined for U.S. Championships.

Q. You've mentioned that you've been suffering from an ankle injury. How is your ankle now?

A. My ankle feels really good now. I've been doing some exercises to help it, but it's a long recovery once you do that -- you can't just bounce back to 100 percent again. It's going to take some time to completely come back strong.

Q. What do you think about the U.S. ladies' chances at the world championships?

A. I think we have a great chance there. There are a lot of talented skaters in the U.S., and I think we've proved in the years before that we can hold on.

Q. Does it feel different heading into this year's U.S. Championships as the defending champion than it did last year as a top contender?

A. Obviously, when you do well, you want to repeat, so there's always a little bit more pressure when you're the defending champion. I feel really good going into this year's competition. I feel like I've been training really hard, and I just want to get a personal best in my long. I think it would be great to put out two very strong, solid programs.

Q. How do you feel about skating in Saint Paul?

A. I love coming to Minnesota! I've done a couple of competitions there, and the crowd's response is always great. I'm really looking forward to getting out there in front of them and delivering really good programs.

Q. A lot has been made about the dominance of the Asian ladies, but you finished ahead of Mao (Asada) in the short program at the 2007 worlds, ahead of Yu-Na (Kim) in the free skate at that competition and beat Miki (Ando) at this year's Skate America. Do you look at those results as evidence that you can compete at the same level as anyone in the world?

A. That question is always a hard one to answer. I think that obviously I like to consider myself a strong competitor, so when I get out there I always try to do my best. But, of course, I can't control what the other skaters do and what kind of marks the judges give us. It's really about who does their best that day, and who the judges think is the best. I think with this new system, anyone can win.

Q. What advantages do you have over 14- and 15-year-old skaters like Caroline (Zhang), Mirai (Nagasu) and Rachael (Flatt), and vice versa?

A. I kind of feel we're on a pretty even playing field. We all have experience with international competitions and national competitions. The younger skaters are very energetic, and they're ready to go. As for me, I've been working a lot at being a lot more artistic on the ice. It's different, I suppose, but I'd like it if they'd call me "more mature" instead of "old." It's really promising that we've got a lot of great younger skaters coming up. But I'm very determined, and I think it will be an exciting competition.

Q. Do you feel that being a part-time college student has affected your amount of training? How are you enjoying your college experience?

A. School is great. I like being here -- it's fun. I've always been up here skating, so I feel like I know a lot about the campus, and I already know where I'm going, which is a huge help. My parents have always put an emphasis on education, so I'm glad that I can continue that and keep skating. The last classes that I took were a lot of fun -- I took some online classes, and I decided that I would much rather be in class the entire time. Next semester, all of my classes will be in the classroom, which is really exciting to me. It can be a bit hard sometimes, though. For example, this year, because I was at the Grand Prix Final, I missed all of my final exams. When I came back, it was Christmas, so I had to wait even longer, which was hard because I just had to keep studying because the exams kept getting pushed back. I just wanted to get it over with.

Q. How do you feel your skating has evolved from when you won the world championships (in 2006) to now?

A. I think the new system has been evolving, and you kind of have to change with that and adapt. I feel like my presentation is a lot better, and I'm starting to feel the music a lot more. I really try to interpret the music, as opposed to just being a jumping bean and just doing a million jumps. It's more now about the entire program, rather than just certain elements. That's definitely the big change now; it's fun to be 'into' the performance.