Czisny preparing for one last run at Olympic glory

Two-time U.S. champion gradually getting back to full strength

Alissa Czisny is hoping her third time attempting to make the Olympic team is the charm.
Alissa Czisny is hoping her third time attempting to make the Olympic team is the charm. (Getty Images)


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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to
(07/01/2013) - Two-time U.S. champion Alissa Czisny, who turned 26 last week, is getting ready for the Olympic season. This will be her third attempt to make it to the Olympic Games, which has always been -- and remains -- one of her main career goals.

Her two previous attempts were unsuccessful. At the 2006 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Louis, she finished seventh. She fell short again four years later, placing 10th at the 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Wash.

However, between these failures were many successes, including a victory at the 2010 Grand Prix Final and her capturing two national titles (2009, '11). Unfortunately for Czisny, there were the injuries too, particularly in the last two seasons.

Last season, Czisny was assigned to the NHK Trophy but withdrew so she could continue to recover from hip surgery, which she underwent in June 2012.

She had hoped to compete at the 2013 U.S. Championships in Omaha, Neb., but at the 2013 Fox Cities Invitational -- a small, nonqualifying competition in Wisconsin -- she dislocated her left hip when she fell on a triple flip. Czisny was taken to the hospital, where her hip was moved back into alignment, but the competitive season was over for her. A new long and difficult recovery period had begun. talked with Czisny about her health condition, preparation for the new season and Olympic hopes. How is your health?

Czisny: My injury is healing well, although I am still in the process of completely recovering and getting back to my full athletic capabilities. Are your issues from last season mostly behind you?

Czisny: Both the injury to my hip last year (in early 2012) and the following injury to my hip this year (at the Fox Cities Invitational) have affected my training capabilities, and I have been diligently working hard at recovering my full strength and control and abilities, while taking care not to rush the comeback or risk re-injury. You recently participated in the "Artistry on Ice" show in China. Tell us about it.

Czisny: Last year, I was invited to participate in "Artistry on Ice" in China, and I was disappointed that I was not able to participate due to the surgery. When I was invited again this season, I was thrilled to perform in the shows. It is a spectacular show, and I had an amazing experience. Also, it felt wonderful to perform again in front of a large audience! How is your training going this summer?

Czisny: Training this summer has been going well. Recovering all my former skills is a long and slow process, but I am enjoying the process, because I am so grateful to be back on the ice again and to have the ability to train again. As I understand, in preparation for the coming Olympic season, you're skating two sessions per day, gradually increasing the difficulty of your spins and jumps and planning to add a triple-triple jump combination to your program elements. Could you tell us more about that?

Czisny: The training will gradually increase as my hip heals and becomes better able to handle the increased stress and harder skills, so we have been taking it day by day and week by week. The most important thing is that we don't push the hip beyond what it is able to do each day, because we do not want to risk further injuries to the area. Once I have fully regained the strength and control in the hip, we will be able to add the new elements as well. In the new season, you are not entered in any Grand Prix events. Do you plan to participate at some other international competitions?

Czisny: Again, the plan is to take as much time as I need to heal fully and regain complete ability before I compete. I would like to be ready to compete when the season commences this fall, in hopes of participating in other international competitions. Can you tell us about your new programs?

Czisny: I haven't yet announced my short program for this season. I have chosen to use the same long program that I was using last season but never got to perform in completion. The music is from Gone With the Wind, and it is choreographed by Marina Zoueva. You spent this past season mostly as an observer. What are your general thoughts on ladies skating in the United States and in the world?

Czisny: One of the most difficult parts of this past season was watching the competitions but not being able to participate. I had been so excited to compete again at the national championships, and I was heartbroken when I was injured two weeks before that competition. Even though it was hard to watch and not be able to participate in the competitions last season, I still tried to watch as much as possible, because I know that it's always possible to learn something from watching others compete.

It is wonderful to see that ladies skating, both in the U.S. and in the world, has been consistently increasing to a higher level, and I was impressed with the many strong performances at the world championships. Is it your primary goal this season to fight for the one of three Olympic spots at the 2014 U.S. Championships?

Czisny: Of course. My ultimate goal is to qualify for and compete at the 2014 Olympics. When you think about the upcoming Sochi Olympics, what thoughts and emotions come to your mind?

Czisny: I participated in two other Olympic cycles but failed to qualify, so I would be honored to compete at the Olympic Games in Sochi. At this point, having experienced two injuries and being in the process of recovering and regaining my abilities, I know that I have a long and difficult road ahead of me. But I have not given up on my goals, and I know that I will do everything that I can, with the help of those around me, to reach those goals.

It would be the culmination of all my dreams, the epitome of my career thus far, to be able to participate in the Sochi Olympics.