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Journal


July 1, 2014

Post-competition (Broadmoor Open) update: Well, the first competition of the season is officially in the books. It felt so great to get out in the competitive arena once again and I am excited to say that it's just the beginning.

Getting both my short and long out there early on this season was extremely important to me. I obviously am not in Nationals form quite yet, but the biggest thing for me was to remind myself what it feels like to be out there competing. I have done a few shows since my surgery and was able to exhibit a short program back in May, but I needed that full experience of competing again to break the ice and make a game plan for this season in terms of what I need to do to become the best I can be. On top of that, it's always beneficial to get advice in terms of levels on spins, steps, the overall program, etc. I received great feedback and overall the programs were liked. I'm definitely interested to see how they will evolve over the next 6 months and hopefully beyond that. :)

I think, overall, Broadmoor Open was a a great step towards achieving my goals for the season. I definitely have some work to do, but I now have a starting point to grow from. Up next, Skate Detroit. :)


June 26, 2014

Pre-competition (Broadmoor Open) update: I decided to get two new programs. I wanted to let go of all that happened last season and start fresh. Catarina [Lindgren] choreographed my new short program to Rachmaninoff's "Trio élégiaque No. 2" and Tom [Dickson] choreographed my new long program to Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. We stuck with the darker concept for the long, but changed up the short completely. The story behind the short is one that resonates with me greatly. It's about a journey from being broken and injured, overcoming those obstacles and transforming into something that is free and beautiful. Catarina used the analogy of a bird with a broken wing that eventually becomes strong enough to fly again. It's very synonymous with my journey over the past year and means a lot to me. The long is the story of Sweeney Todd and it's extremely morbid and dark. It shows off a different side of my skating than anyone has ever really seen. I'm excited to debut them both at Broadmoor Open. :)

P.S. I hope to write a little bit more after Broadmoor Open.


November 2, 2013

Hi all,

Just wanted to send you all a quick update on my life. After having such a great season last year, I was so excited to get back to work and prepare for the Olympic season. It felt amazing to finally be back on the international scene and to really start taking my skating in the direction I've always wanted it to go. This spring, I was training extremely well. I had the opportunity to go work with Frank Carroll a couple of times, my quad toe was right there, and my programs were really developing into something unique. In June however, I twisted my ankle on a triple axel and heard a pop. I thought that I might have just tweaked it again as I've been dealing with sprained ankles since 2011. I took three weeks off the ice and it started to feel better, but for some reason it felt looser than normal this time. I ended up getting back on the ice and as I was doing a choreography run through of my short, I felt my ankle pop again on a simple lunge. I decided at this point I really needed to get it looked at because I wasn't able to train and I felt like I was wasting time. I got an MRI that Friday, got the results Monday, and had surgery three days later. I had completely torn two ligaments in my ankle and the band of fascia that wraps around the joint. At this point, it was necessary that I have surgery if I wanted to have any chance of competing this season. I was quite apprehensive about the surgery, but it was a breeze.

Today, my joint is as stable as can be and I shouldn't have to worry about spraining my ankle ever again. My doctor used a titanium screw to hold the ligaments in my fibula as well as cadaver tissue to reinforce the support. However, my recovery isn't going as quickly as expected and I'm not able to do everything that I would like to. I have nerve damage to my leg and it has inhibited my ability to fully use my foot. I have seen handfuls of doctors to try to fix this problem, but the only thing that I can do is wait and let my body heal over time. Needless to say, the past four months have been extremely stressful and emotionally draining as my ability to compete this season has been completely up in the air. At first I thought I was going to be able to compete, but after taking everything into consideration, my coaches and I decided it would be best to sit this season out. Clearly, this has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but it's for the best. My ankle has been a problem since 2010 and I really wanted to rid this issue from my life. Now that this is all in the past, I can really focus my energy on recovering and becoming an even stronger skater for the 2014-2015 season. As difficult as it will be to watch Nationals in Boston, I'm still hoping to be there to support all my fellow skaters.

Wishing you all health and happiness,

Alex


October 13, 2011

Hi everyone,

I cannot believe how long it’s been since I last updated you guys with my life. I’ve been extremely busy this summer and fall, getting back into shape and working on new programs.

Last season was filled with many ups and downs.  I made a big decision to move out to Colorado and leave my longtime coach Joan Orvis. It definitely wasn’t an easy move as Joan is like my second mother, but I had gotten to the point where I needed something new and to start fresh somewhere else.

I started off the season pretty well and kept building after each competition. I was landing triple axel more and more consistently and was very close to landing quad toe. I had a bit of a rough Sectionals, but came away from it knowing exactly what I needed to work on.

Training after Sectionals was going extremely well and I was doing more clean longs than ever before, until I fell on a strange triple axel and sprained my ankle. Words cannot even begin to describe what was going on in my head that day as I went to the ER to have my ankle checked. I got an X-ray and the doctor said it was a Level 3 sprain and that I should stay off of it for at least six-eight weeks. Well, I knew that if I took that much time off, there would be no way for me to compete at nationals as it was only seven weeks away. So, I ended up off the ice for about three and half weeks before I finally put my skates back on. 

Training for Nationals was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Not only was it physically challenging as I had to get back into shape quickly all the while trying to manage the pain as best as I could, but it was mentally draining as well.  Trying to convince yourself that you are in good enough shape to do a four and a half minute program with eight triples in it is not very easy. Nonetheless, Nationals was quite the let down and I was extremely upset, as I never got to show how I really could skate.

It's embarrassing to go out in front of thousands of people and skate as if you have never skated before. I do look back at Nationals with a bit of regret as it was probably not the wisest decision to skate, but I did accomplish a couple of personal goals that week and have learned lots from the experience.

The biggest problem I had with competing at Nationals is that I paid for it all spring and up until the beginning of June. It turns out that I actually had severe bruising of my Talus and Tibia from the sprain and because I trained for Nationals, they were even further damaged. Bone contusions take quite some time to heal and I never allowed my body the proper amount of time to recover, because it was always a rush to get back onto the ice. I do have a bone chip in my ankle from the damage I did to it before Nationals, but luckily I am not in much pain from it and can train at a normal rate finally!

I also made a big change in July and am no longer taking from Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin.  It took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my skating and who could help me get there. After much debate, I decided to make a change. I am now taking full time from Tom Dickson, who is also my choreographer, and couldn’t be happier. He is so inspiring to work with on a daily basis and has helped me tremendously in the three short months that I’ve been working with him. I’m also working with Catarina Lindgren (Tom’s wife), Christy Krall and Erik Schulz part time.

My programs this year are probably the best programs I have ever had! My short program is to “O Mio Babbino Caro” and I absolutely love it. I have wanted to skate to this music for years and when Tom Dickson brought it in for me to listen to, I immediately knew that was it! It’s such a calming piece of music and really reflects who I am as a skater. My long is to music from the ballet, “Gayane” and it’s a very strong yet beautiful piece.

On top of my singles skating, I also will be competing in novice pairs this season. I competed in pairs a long time ago at the Juvenile level and figured I would give it a try again. I have been having fun learning all these new tricks and it should be interesting to see where this takes me. My partner, Danielle Viola, and I competed our short program a few weeks ago here at the Broadmoor and it went very well. I must say though, it was very strange competing with someone else right next to me. I almost forgot to bow with her at the end!

I have done a couple of competitions and gotten great feedback as to what I need to work on. Things are coming along quite well and I am looking forward to my next competition. Regionals will be in Dallas in a couple weeks and then it’s off to Secitonals in Fort Collins, Colo., since there are only four Senior Men at Regionals! I can’t wait to get out there again!

Apart from skating, there hasn’t been too much going on. I moved into a studio apartment back in the beginning of May and I love living by myself.  It’s only a few minutes from the rink, which is very convenient.  That’s all for now, I have a batch of brownies in the oven that I must tend to!

Thanks for all your support and interest in my skating!

 

Alex Johnson

P.S. For some more day-to-day tidbits on my life, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alex_M_Johnson. My username is Alex_M_Johnson.


 

September 23, 2009

Hi all,

I know it’s been quite a while since I last wrote an update so I figured I better catch up now. This summer has been quite an experience for me.

I started the summer off the ice because of an injury to my right ankle. I was off the ice for three of the weeks in June and I was finally able to start back with actual training mid-July. I lost quite a bit of training time and had to withdraw from my home club competition (Braemar McCandless) and the Liberty Open, where I was to be monitored my U.S. Figure Skating). Fortunately, there was enough time left for me to sign up for Silicon Valley Open, which was also a competition that I could be monitored at.

I had about three weeks to train for this competition, but I managed to produce two pleasing performances. My short program was safe, but I executed every element: double Axel, triple flip-triple toe combination and triple lutz. My long was better than my short save for a flawed triple Salchow. I was very pleased with my performances and my monitoring session went great. I came away from the competition with a lot more confidence and a sense of what I needed to continue to work on.

Two weeks after SVO, I had broken in a new pair of skates. I had worn them for just one week before I competed at another competition, the Minnesota State Championships. I had been training pretty well, but definitely did not skate as well as I had expected. The short was an improvement from SVO in the sense that I skated more to the music and was more comfortable with the program, but I turned my combination jump into a triple-double. The long had a mixture of good and bad things, but definitely gave me a direction as to what to work on next.

Now that I have had some time to regroup and get back to the grindstone, things have been going well. I had a minor incident with my ankle injury and the new skates, which forced me to go back to my old pair, but other than that life is great.

I am currently taking Microeconomics online through the University of Minnesota to keep my study habits up a little and I really enjoy it. I never really thought I would miss homework, but I did.  I'm hoping next semester to maybe step it up and take two classes instead of one so I can keep working towards an undergraduate degree and not have it take 15 years, haha.

Another exciting piece of news, I was assigned to Finlandia Trophy in Helsinki, Finland. I leave October 7, and come home October 1. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to compete as a senior man for the first time internationally. It will be a great stepping-stone as I continue to work my way towards my skating dreams.

 

Thanks for your support,

Alex Johnson

P.S. For some more day-to-day tidbits on my life, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alex_M_Johnson. My username is Alex_M_Johnson.


May 3, 2009

Hi everyone,

I am so excited to finally get my web site up and running. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported my skating and to figure skaters online for helping me set this page up.

Well, this past season has been quite a whirlwind for me. From the Liberty Open all the way to Nationals in Cleveland, I felt like I never really had any time to stop. Nonetheless, it was by far the most exciting season I have had so far. It was so much fun traveling around the world, experiencing different cultures, and skating with some of the best skaters ever.

The Czech Republic was my first trip of the season. Although my skating schedule was very busy and I didn't have time to see any sights in Ostrava, I really enjoyed being around a culture that was completely different from ours. The people that I encountered there were pretty friendly and even though it was hard to communicate with them because of the lack of English speaking citizens, we seemed to get by.

My short program was probably my best of the season. I won by nearly six points and could not believe it. The long program went extremely well also. I was way more nervous for the long program because I had never been in such a great position after short and I wanted it to stay that way. Due to that pressure, I did a nice single flip-double toe combination for my first jump. I could not believe it and I knew that if I wanted to keep that position I had to pull it together.

I actually told myself while I was skating, "This can be either the worst performance of your life, or the best performance of your life Alex, so make up you mind." I knew I didn't want the first option so I turned it around and skated a clean program after my first little hiccup. Overall, I ended up staying in first place and I was so ecstatic. I'm pretty sure that standing on top of the podium, listening to the national anthem play and watching the U.S. flag rise for the first time ever in my skating career, was the highlight of my trip in Ostrava.

Sheffield, Great Britain was my next trip. I was so excited to go outside of the country once again and although I had four weeks between the Czech Republic and then, it seemed like I was back at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport two days later. For once, it was extremely nice to be in a country where the official language is English so we didn't feel like complete outcasts. The funny part about that though, was that even though they did speak English, it was so different from ours that we could sometimes barely understand what they were saying.

My short program in Sheffield went very well and I ended up in second after a clean skate. I was so thrilled to be in second after the short because I knew I had a chance at making the JGP final. My long program was not so hot. I put too much emphasis on making the Final and lost focus on the task at hand. Due to my lack of focus, I made two really big mistakes; singling a triple Lutz and singling a triple loop. Fortunately, those two mistakes didn't cost me enough and I ended up in third place, which meant that I had qualified for my first ever JGP Final.

After the competition, my coach Joan Orvis and I were able to stay an extra day and visit London. The one thing I really enjoyed about London was the beautiful architecture. You can tell that the English put much time and effort into carefully constructing each building because they all were gorgeous. My favorites were by the far the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

Up next was the JGP Final in Korea. I had about two months after Sheffield to really get my programs to where I wanted them to be and by the time we were about to leave, I felt very prepared to skate my best. This was the first time ever in ISU history that the Senior Grand Prix Final and the Junior Grand Prix Final events were combined and it was so cool being around athletes such as Patrick Chan and Yu-Na Kim.

The first day of practice was quite an eye opening experience. The facility was gorgeous and as I walked in, I felt like I was competing at Worlds. I was a bit overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event and I had to sit down with my coach and take a deep breath to relax. However, practice went very well that day and I knew I was ready to perform.

The short program went extremely well and I found myself sitting in fourth place. The Korean fans were so enthusiastic and I didn't want to get off the ice. I was having such a great time. The long program was the next day and it actually went pretty well also. I once again did a single loop and my triple Salchow was downgraded in my triple salchow double axel sequence. Although I moved down the placements to sixth, I was proud of myself for what I had accomplished.

The rest of the trip was wonderful. I was able to experience world class skating and surround myself with a lot of the stars of our sport. Overall, Korea was a great learning experience and I hope that someday I will be competing in the Senior Grand Prix Final.

After Korea, Joan and I knew that we had to really focus on the long program because that had been my downfall in the past. So for the next month, we ran long program after long program until I was able to perform it perfect with my eyes shut (well not really, but you guys know what I mean). The short hadn't been a problem in the past so we figured if I just kept running through it clean, it would be fine.

Nationals snuck up on us faster than we really thought. I knew I was prepared though and I couldn't wait to get there. Up first was the short program, which I had done clean at every competition and had been practicing clean nearly everyday. My warm-up was perfect and as I took the ice, I felt pretty good, but a bit more nervous than I had felt in the past. I think that is what got me. I fell on the triple flip and doubled the triple Lutz. It was bound to be a disaster, but I finished the program stronger than ever, working for every point that I could get. I ended up seventh and was very disappointed with myself. I knew I could do that program clean and it was extremely frustrating to not perform it that way. I used this frustration however to motivate myself for the long and it seemed to work.

I made two small mistakes in my long; leaving out the triple flip-triple toe loop combination and two footing a double axel. Luckily, it was good enough to win the long program and pull up to 3rd overall. I was extremely proud of myself for fighting until the end and although I didn't accomplish my goals of winning the junior men's title and qualifying for World Juniors, I was able to take many lessons away from this competition.

Finally my season was over and I was able to take a much-needed break. This was the first time I had ever experienced a long season and my coach told me I needed to take two weeks off and just relax. The first week was great, but by the end of it, I really wanted to get back on the ice. Well, that was definitely not going to happen because my mom had scheduled a lovely appointment for me to get my wisdom teeth out that Thursday. Boy was that fun. Actually, it wasn't that bad. I was able to skate the following Monday and finally start training again for my first year as a senior man. However, for the first few days, it did feel like my head was going to explode whenever I spun or jumped.

A few weeks later, I took a weekend trip down to Chicago to visit a friend of mine, Megan Hyatt. It was nice to see her and we had a lot of fun wandering the streets of downtown Chicago and sightseeing a little. Two weeks after that, I was training in Colorado with Kathy Casey for a couple weeks. I then was home for a week, before flying to Montreal to work with my choreographer Sebastien Britten on two new senior programs. I was in Montreal for two whole weeks before finally coming home.

I have been home for more than two weeks now and it has been quite nice. Now it's just back to training and getting this four and a half minute program under my belt. Thanks for reading my journal and supporting my skating. It is greatly appreciated!

 

Until next time,

Alex Johnson

 

Archive

July 2, 2014

June 26, 2014

November 2, 2013

October 13, 2011

September 23, 2009

May 3, 2009

 

As Alex rises in the rankings, the cost of his training also escalates,
and is currently around $50,000 a year. He receives funding through the
New England Amateur Skating Foundation and the US Athletic Foundation,
which are both made possible through donations from people like you.
Click here for information on how to make a donation to Alex's training.