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Czisny looking to build on last season's success

Reigning U.S. champ excited about new programs, training alongside other elite skaters in Detroit

Alissa Czisny is hoping to carry over her success from last season to the 2011-12 campaign.
Alissa Czisny is hoping to carry over her success from last season to the 2011-12 campaign. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(09/07/2011) - Two-time U.S. champion Alissa Czisny continues to prepare for the upcoming season. She recently returned from Colorado Springs, Colo., where she performed her programs at Champs Camp.

Just a year ago, many people doubted the strength of character of this seemingly fragile skater. After going through difficult times, she performed brilliantly last season, winning the Grand Prix Final and her second gold medal at the U.S. Championships. She is the only ladies skater since Michelle Kwan to win more than one U.S. title. She has reviewed a lot in her life, and because of that and her true love of figure skating, she is again among the top skaters in the world.

Icenetwork recently talked with Czisny about how she spent her summer and her expectations for the upcoming season.

Icenetwork.com: You participated in many ice shows around the United States and the world this summer. Tell us about them.

Czisny: Yes, I skated in several shows this spring and summer, and as always, I thoroughly enjoyed them. I skated at "All That Skate Spring 2011" in Korea, which is an amazing show with a wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic audience. I participated in our own DSC club ice show, and we also added an additional exhibition, to benefit the relief efforts in Japan. Sun Valley invited me back to their summer ice show again, and I always love visiting and skating in Sun Valley.

I spent two weeks in Japan for "The Ice 2011," my first time doing shows in Japan. I had an amazing time, and I really enjoyed skating for the appreciative audiences! Finally, I also skated in my friend Nick LaRoche's benefit show (US Athletic Foundation, which he founded with his sister). So, I spent good times performing all around the world and around the country this spring and summer.

Icenetwork.com: Regardless of the event, whether a competition or an ice show, you are always fully immersed in your performances. Did you get any rest this off-season?

Czisny: Because I chose skating as my career, I take all of my performances seriously, and I try to do my best at each one. I love performing for audiences, and I want to give them my best and give them a great performance that they will love!

But still, performing in shows is not as taxing as competing, and I enjoyed the small break from competition.

Icenetwork.com: And how was your training this summer?

Czisny: I trained hard this summer to increase my technical content, to learn and grow my new programs, and to improve on all my elements.

Icenetwork.com: You recently returned from Champs Camp in Colorado. Could you tell us about that?

Czisny: Champs Camp in Colorado Springs was a wonderful opportunity for me to perform my new programs in front of the federation, the judges and the officials, and to receive beneficial feedback from them. I can now apply what I've learned there and make my programs even better for the competitions this season. Also, it was a good chance for me to get into that "competition" mode I love, that of performing under pressure again.

Icenetwork.com: Your coaches, Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen, have new students. There is a thought that your success last season has inspired some other skaters to begin working with them. What do you think about it?

Czisny: Yes, my coaches are now working with several new students this season. I am really enjoying skating with many high-level skaters, and I think that we all have a good support system with each other, and we all push each other to become even better.

Icenetwork: You, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Jeremy Abbott and others are all in Detroit. Does this mean that the Detroit Skating Club is the capital of figure skating in the U.S.?

Czisny: I think that Detroit is definitely one of the most popular places in America to train, and I'm really happy that my club has so many great skaters skating there.

Icenetwork.com: Let's talk about your new programs. They are based on Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" and Jean Sibelius' "Valse Triste." Both of them are full of purpose, feelings and energy. What was the process like of choosing these musical selections and creating your programs?

Czisny: My free skate was choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo. This year, he had chosen the music for me, and I loved it the moment that he played it for me. I think the style of the music is similar to some of my past programs, a style that suits my skating well, but I also think it is stronger and has greater depth.

My short program music took longer to find. We searched for awhile to find just the right piece of music, but when we finally chose "La Vie en Rose," I knew it was perfect! Yuka Sato chose the music, and she and Pasquale Camerlengo both choreographed my short program.

Icenetwork.com: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

Czisny: I feel that I became a new skater last season, that it was the beginning of my new skating career, and I feel that this season is building on last season. I'm excited for this season, and I want to improve on my performances at each event, to improve my personal best scores as well.

Icenetwork.com: Last season you said you were a completely new skater. What advice do you have for those athletes who also want to change something but have their doubts? Is there a recipe?

Czisny: I think that it is very important when making a change to make sure that one looks within him or herself, as to why he or she is making a change. Also, when I made the change, I looked at all my options, what I really wanted to do, not only in skating but in my life, discovered what I wanted and what I wanted to accomplish, and made my decisions from there. And, once I made my decisions, I did not doubt that I had made the right choices. I believe in my coaches, and I trust that they can help me reach my goals. I cannot thank them enough for everything they helped me with last season and for everything they continually do to help me each and every day.