December Skater in Residence – Kirsten Moore-Towers discusses how she got into figure skating, her affirmation that she would never try pairs skating (disclaimer – she eventually tried it) and how her mom shaped her skating journey.
My name is Kirsten Moore-Towers. I am 27 years old and was born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario (don’t ask me anything cool to do there, I moved away when I was 15). I have been skating pairs for Canada at the senior level for 11 years (old lady alert), but most of you already knew that to some extent. Some things you might not know about me:
- I HATE onions; love French onion soup.
- I have been working on becoming fluent in French for four years (j’essaie mon mieux).
- I love to read fiction. I have been known to read one novel per day on vacation.
- I am a professional dog petter (ask any dog, they’ll back me up).
- I think my mom’s the coolest.
- When I was younger, I was adamant that I would NOT become a pair skater (gasp).
I’ll start at the beginning. I began skating when I was 2.5 years old. My mom skated in her youth and even still skated synchro up until my little sister was born in the year 2000. Since she had an avid background in figure skating and a killer double salchow (so I hear), it made sense that I would follow suit. I don’t remember anything at all but I’m told that I was not a fan. Some people say they stepped on the ice and felt the wind in their hair and the freedom that gliding provided and they were hooked forever. I, on the other hand, was not that girl. I hated it so much that I never wanted to go back. My mom told me that once I actually learned how to skate, she would grant me my wish of never skating again. I guess sometime between my first day and that blessed day when I could actually stand up, I fell in love.
Fast forward a few years and I couldn’t get enough figure skating. When I told my parents at 7 years old that I was going to go to the Olympics, they tried to lovingly inform me that very few people actually get to go there, but if I tried my best, that would be enough. Without missing a beat I responded with, “someone has to go. Why can’t it be me?”
In St. Catharines we didn’t have a whole lot of ice time so eventually I had my parents and sometimes grandparents shuttling me to and from any rink within half an hour of our house. I skated every day of the week and on Tuesdays and Fridays I skated twice (I was balancing some synchro skating in there as well, which is probably something else you didn’t know about me). When I was 13 years old, my family and I made the difficult decision to move my training location to a bit of a bigger school 45 minutes away. This meant leaving my coach of 11 years who had a big role in shaping my passion for this sport. It also meant that I would be skating with people who were a lot more advanced than I was; doing harder elements, and competing at bigger competitions. With skating at a bigger club there were a lot more eyes and ears around, and even some boy skaters which I had never seen in real life.
There was a pair school nearby and there were always people looking for new partners. I should’ve maybe prefaced this by saying that I was 4 feet 3 inches tall when I was 14 years old, and though small stature is not required in pair skating, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Needless to say, I was occasionally sought out. I was still so adamant that I would be a singles skater. Joannie Rochette was (still is, honestly) my hero and I wanted to be just like her. My big dream was the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, which, in hindsight, was a little delusional.
Eventually when I was feeling in a bit of a rut and not enjoying skating as much as I had in the past, I decided to give pair skating a go. I had the opportunity to do three tryouts and ended up skating with Andrew Evans.
When I reflect back on those years and try to put a finger on why I was so adamant that I did not want to skate pairs, I’ve come up with a few potential reasons. The biggest one being: people kept telling me that I would be ‘perfect’ for pairs because I was small, and already had a good handle on my jumps. I think upon reflection I’ve realized that I didn’t want to skate pairs because I was small and a decent jumper. I wanted to skate pairs because I was feisty, and fearless, and could perform with somebody else way better than I could by myself. I wanted to skate pairs because I could leverage my strengths and maybe do more with my career than I ever thought possible as the 7 year old who wanted to go to the Olympics. I enjoy experiencing the ups and downs with another person and the comfort of having a support with me at centre ice. Thanks, mom for making me stick it out 25 years ago.