Golden Skate

Scott Smith Makes U.S. International Team

Scott Smith was one of the surprises at the 2003 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships.

Scott Smith, a gregarious 21-year-old from Sandy Spring, MD, was one of the surprises at the 2003 U.S. Nationals, finishing fourth in senior men to earn a spot on the international team. Smith had won the junior men’s title in 1998, but languished back in the pack until 2003, finishing 18th in 2001 and ninth in 2002.

Smith’s idol is Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin. “He is the best overall skater there has ever been so far,” Smith enthused. “He has great quads and skates with such emotion.” Smith has been landing quads himself since he was 18, when he landed his first quad salchow. “The most difficult combination that I have done in competition is a quad salchow/triple toe,” he said. “In practice I would have to say it was a quad salchow/triple loop.” This season, he will be focusing on making his quad toe more consistent.

Born in Florida, Smith began skating when he was seven. “I went to a birthday party and loved skating,” he said. “Shortly after the party I began group lessons and just kept going from there. No one else in my family skates seriously but my brother Reid and I used to do off ice jumps in my yard. He has had so much practice on the ground that he can do up to double toe when he gets on the ice.”

Smith landed his first triple salchow when he was 12. “I was so excited, I kept doing them over and over,” he said. “My favorite jump is the triple Axel. It was the most difficult for me to learn but it is my favorite jump to do now.” Both the salchow and the triple Axel are prominent in his programs. “Last year my short program combination was a quad salchow/double toe,” he stated. “In my long program I had a triple Axel/triple toe and a quad salchow. I can also change my program around and stick triple toe loops on the end of just about anything, but those are the planned ones.”

Mark Mitchell and Peter Johannson have been Smith’s coaches since last August. “Peter works on my technique and Mark mostly works on my programs but helps with my jumps as well,” he said. “Mark does my choreography for my show programs as well as my competition programs. I help with the layout of the program and a little bit with the steps but Mark does all of the finishing touches and the majority of the work.”

“I have a very hard time every year finding music to fit my skating,” Smith said. “I usually go to a big music store that allows you to listen to any CD and just listen and listen until I find something. My coaches also search for music and help me find good music. I usually skate to classical music except for last year when I used movie soundtracks, Moulin Rouge and Shrek.” This season, Smith changed both programs. He is using Pink Floyd’s Time for the short and Michael Kamen’s Concerto for Saxophone for the long. Off ice, he listens to groups like the Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, and Creed.

To relax, Smith plays tennis, a sport in which his father and brother excelled. “I love playing tennis,” he stated. “I have been playing since I was a very little kid and love getting out of the rink once in awhile and playing tennis in the sun.” He also likes to ride roller coasters. “I love the thrill of going really fast and not knowing where the ride is going to take you next,” he added. “I try to make time to visit a roller coaster park at least once a year.” He used to college turtle figurines, toy cars, and stuffed animal penguins as a kid. “I don’t really collect anything any more but I still like to go back and look at my collections once in awhile,” Smith said.

He also enjoys reading and watching movies. He likes mystery movies because he likes “not knowing what is going to happen until the very end of the movie. The suspense and thrill of mysteries keeps me on the edge of my seat.” “Unfortunately I don’t read as much as I should,” Smith added. “I recently read the Lance Armstrong biography and really enjoyed that. Now I am reading the Scott Hamilton biography. I guess I like biographies the best because I find it interesting to read about other people’s ups and down in life. It is nice to know that even the best skaters in the world had downs too.”

Another of his interests is travel. “I love traveling and seeing how other people in the world live. My favorite trip so far was when I went to Beijing for the Four Continents Championships. China has amazing buildings and historical sights such as the Great Wall. Every other year my family visits my aunts, uncles and cousins in New Orleans for Christmas. My uncle is a great cook and we always have a great time in the warm weather in December.”

Smith graduated from high school in 2000, when he made the Chevrolet/USFSA Scholastic Honors Team, but he hasn’t started college. “I haven’t started college yet because I really want to focus on my skating,” he said. “When I am finished with skating, I might go to college but I have no idea what I would study. I am interested in psychology or something dealing with health and nutrition.”

Before he goes back to school, he hopes to make at least one World team and one Olympic team and win the U.S. Nationals. “I love skating and am going to continue skating as long as possible, “he said. “I love to perform and skate in front of people. I can’t imagine life without skating. After I finish skating I think I will become a coach. I love being at the rink and being involved in the sport. I love teaching kids how to jump. I could watch jumps all day. I hope to be a coach of great skaters some day.”