Hanlen prepares skaters for life after competition

Credits 'wondrous series of events' for unique career

Steffany Hanlen has worked with NHL players as well as top-level figure skaters.
Steffany Hanlen has worked with NHL players as well as top-level figure skaters. (courtesy of Steffany Hanlen)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(08/01/2013) - By her own admission, as a figure skater Steffany Hanlen could barely land a double Axel, but she's worked with skaters at the highest level and helped them prepare for life after competition. She's also provided a couple of well-known skaters with skills for careers in the sport of hockey.

"As most frozen Canadians, I grew up figure skating," said Hanlen, who trained in Edmonton and passed her gold dances, senior free skate and fifth figures test.

She also began working on her coaching certification, with plans of being a figure skating coach. Instead, she felt a pull toward hockey and began studying how to make hockey players better skaters.

"For some reason, even today, by the time hockey players get to junior or even to the pros, some of them have never had a skating lesson. It boggles the mind because you see how much better they can get," Hanlen said.

After studying biomechanics, Hanlen began training hockey players to be better skaters. In 1980, she started to coach power skating at the Okanagan Hockey Schools.

In 1984, Skate Canada (then called the Canadian Figure Skating Association) approached her to create a power skating program. While numerous figure skating coaches taught power skating, their lack of knowledge of the game of hockey minimized their effectiveness. She also became the first female skating coach in the National Hockey League, working for nine years with the Edmonton Oilers.

Over time, she developed her Quantum Speed™ program (, in which many hockey players and coaches have participated. Having lacked mentors, Hanlen adopted the mindset that she would mentor other coaches. While most of the coaches she's worked with come from the sport of hockey, two are well-known figure skaters: Barbara Underhill, who is now a skating coach for several NHL teams, and David Pelletier, who recently joined the Quantum Speed team.

Hanlen's husband owns high-end retail skate stores in Edmonton, and in 2002, Canadian men's competitor Ben Ferreira was working for him as a skate sharpener. Having finished fifth at that year's Canadian championships, Ferreira, then 22, had decided to retire from competitive skating when Hanlen took him under her wing to help him figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

Most unexpectedly, Ferreira received a call telling him that, due to retirements and withdrawals, he had been named to the Canadian team for the 2002 World Figure Skating Championships. He didn't have a coach at the time, so he asked Hanlen if she could accompany him to worlds. Skate Canada's president at the time, Marilyn Chidlow, knew Hanlen from the power skating program in the '80s and agreed to the accreditation.

After Ferreira's 15th-place finish, he decided to continue competing and found a new skating coach. When he retired in 2006, in addition to coaching skating, he and his wife, Jadene, began collaborating with Hanlen on a business called The Champions Journey, wherein he leads seminars for people interested in making a transition in their lives.

Thanks to Ferreira's impressive finish at worlds, in 2002 Hanlen was invited to be a presenter at the Skate Canada national team meetings, where she met ice dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon and began mentoring them.

"I was viewing it from a business standpoint," she explained.

Dubreuil and Lauzon had a great coaching team as well as nutritionists, sports psychologists, trainers, etc. Hanlen viewed her role as helping them plan their lives for the future after competition.

"They were consciously creating their future," she said.

She continued to work with them as a mentor until their retirement following the 2007 World Championships.

"I hold myself as a business person," said Hanlen, who is also a sought-after motivational speaker. "I teach athletes how to maximize and monetize what they're doing, regardless if they're staying in sport or not. They have to have a plan."

She worked with two-time U.S. ladies champion Alissa Czisny for several years. Attending college was a big part of Czisny's planning forward.

Hanlen described Czisny as willing to do the work to plan for her future.

"Skaters have to be open-minded enough to know that this conversation can exist," Hanlen said.