Ward decides to step out from behind the boards
Skater's last competitive appearance was at 2008 U.S. Championships
|Rohene Ward (second from left) stands proudly with current and former students, including Jason Brown (second from right). (courtesy of Jason Brown)|
"I spent the last three years on tour," he said. "The first year I was there for five months, the second year I was gone nine months, and the third year I was gone six months."
When he wasn't touring, Ward was coaching in the Chicago area and doing a lot of choreography, notably for Jason Brown and Jordan Moeller. Ward has been Brown's choreographer throughout his career. Recently, Ward moved to Colorado with Brown, Moeller and their coach, Kori Ade.
Ward said that even while he was on tour, he thought about competing again.
"It's always been in the back of my mind," he said. "I kept everything up, my jumps and spins. On tour, I fell in love with skating again. I felt like I was growing and maturing. I needed that separation from my family and focus on me, and do what made me happy.
"All that time, I was thinking, 'Oh, you should just go back and compete again.' When Kori asked me to move to Colorado Springs, I thought that will be even more of a reason to compete -- I'll be isolated and at altitude."
Ward feels that his extensive experience performing in shows will help him approach competing with a new attitude. As a competitor, Ward was known to be extremely talented both technically and artistically, but he often had trouble delivering when it counted. Despite being one of the few men in the U.S. at the time to include both a triple Axel and a quad toe in his programs, he ended up at the bottom of the field at the 2006 and 2008 U.S. championships.
"I have grown, artistically and emotionally," Ward said. "I know that I have more in me, and I feel like I deserve to show what I'm capable of. My issue is whether I can skate well under pressure and do what I'm capable of doing. On tour, I had a very high consistency rate.
"The only way I can share my gift with as many people as possible is to go to nationals and hopefully skate well and be on TV. So, I'll see whether performing in over 1,500 shows over three years has helped me."
Ward says he still does a triple Axel on a regular basis in practice. He has the extremely rare ability to rotate triple jumps both clockwise and counterclockwise. He says that his new free skate will include a reverse double Axel as well as spins in both directions.
For his short program, Ward will skate to "Din Da Da" by Kevin Aviance. His free skate is to "Weather Storm" by Craig Armstrong.
"The programs are set," he said. "The only unfortunate thing is I don't have enough time to do what I want to do, because at this time of year everyone needs work, and with Kori and [her] new baby, I've had to take a lot of responsibility. It's hard to have time to skate and train myself. I'm waiting until summer starts and I have that two hours a day to myself."
Ward plans to skate his short program at the Broadmoor Open and participate in the jump competition. After that, he plans to compete at the 2013 Vail Invitational Figure Skating Competition and at the Glacier Falls Classic.
Meanwhile, he will continue to coach and choreograph, while trying to find enough time for his own training.
"I'm working with some dance teams here in Colorado and doing some exhibition programs for some skaters and, obviously, my own students," Ward said. "I've been coaching for 10 or 11 years."
Ward admits that training and coaching at the same time is a tough proposition.
"It is very difficult," he said. "You're working not just as a coach but also as a role model. The students have a different relationship with you -- you're not just telling them what to do, you're also showing them. They look at me as a peer, but there's also an expectation from me as well."
Ade is listed as Ward's coach, although she says he does most of the work on his own.
"I don't want to take too much credit because he's one of the most talented guys ever," Ade said. "Coaching is more like consulting with him. He's giving it one more shot for the joy of being out on the ice. He feels that it doesn't matter what he does out there."
"[Kori] is there to kind of push me and support me in positive ways that I need," Ward said. "She supports me as a person. She wants to see me happy and to skate as well as I can. At the end of the day, it's like having a big sister to motivate and push you.
"Our relationship is so good. I'm in a very good space. I'm very, very happy. I couldn't really ask for any other situation right now."