Ageless Amber Corwin Continues to Improve
USA’s Amber Corwin has been competing for almost two decades, longer than many of her competitors have been alive. But Corwin is not only getting older, she’s getting better. This season she had her highest finish in over ten years of competing in senior ladies at the 2004 U. S. Nationals in Atlanta, finishing fourth.
She capped off her season by taking the bronze medal at the 2004 Four Continents Championships after winning the short program and finishing fifth in the long. It was her second medal at the event. She also won a silver medal at the inaugural Four Continents Figure Skating Championship in 1999. “Four Continents comes at a great time for me,” she said. “I came right after the peak of my season at Nationals. I was on automatic pilot. The momentum carried me right through.” At 25, Corwin is one of the oldest women competing for the United States.
“One reason I’ve had success is because I’ve always been healthy and ready to compete,” she stated. “When I’ve been the alternate, I’ve been willing to go every time.” As a result Corwin has competed in a wide variety of international events. In just the last two years, she has skated in Canada, China, Croatia, France, Germany, and Japan. She plans to continue at least until the 2006 Olympics. Then she’d like to try the professional skating circuit. “I’ve trained in Sun Valley the last few summers,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about show life from working there. I feel I’m getting a well-rounded education about both sides of skating. It’s a different feeing to be entertaining people, using whatever music and costumes you want. I’d love to do show skating when I’m done competing.”
But that won’t be too soon. “I still love what I’m doing,” Corwin stated. “I’m very into skating. I think I’m improving every year and my body and mind are healthy. I’m feeling young and I’ve always felt my skating was more about quality than the quantity of jumps, although I plan to start really drilling the triple loop-triple loop this summer.” She is one of the few skaters to attempt that combination in competition.
Corwin trains on ice for about 2-3 hours a day, six days a week. “Amber trains really well,” added coach and former Canadian champion, Charlene Wong. “The sessions are really intense. We do at least three full run throughs every day. I don’t think most people know how hard Amber works to maintain her body and stay fit on the ice. She’s a real role model for fitness and healthy eating. She’s very disciplined and listens to her body. If she feels something wrong, she immediately goes to medical to check it out.” As a result, Corwin has avoided serious and chronic injuries that have plagued other elite skaters.
A native Californian, Corwin is a senior at California State University in Long Beach. “I’ve been going to Cal State for the last seven years,” she stated, “mostly part-time. But for the last few semesters, I’ve been a full-time student. Once I complete four more classes and my internship, I’ll get a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and marketing. I plan to be a personal stylist and image consultant for photo shoots and films on location. I’ve already done some styling workshops and I’m busy networking to find a job. I’m hoping to go to New York City this summer for my internship. That’s the center of the fashion industry.”
“I don’t think I’ve missed out on the college experience by being a skater,” she remarked. “I do a lot of socializing with the other students in the fashion department. We’ve done some fund raisers together and worked on the annual fashion show. I have a good social life, but I’m not a late-night partier. I was actually approached to pledge by one of the sororities, but when I looked at the list of activities, the first thing on the list was an ice skating party. So I didn’t think it would work out.”
Corwin also works part-time as a hostess to help fund her training and college. “It’s been difficult to manage all the demands on my time,” she stated. “but I find I work faster and manage my time better with a full-balanced life. I think I’m better off than skaters who only train and compete. And I have lots of time on planes to do my homework.”
Although the willowy blonde has modeled for skating wear in the past, she doesn’t do any modeling now. Nor does she create any outfits herself. “I don’t draw or sew,” she said. “What I do is create the total package. I get ideas from magazines and other places, then relay them to the dressmakers.”
For her short program, Corwin is using Henry Mancini’s Moon River. “Audrey Hepburn has been my idol for a while,” she explained. “I wanted to create a program with the same mood as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I watched a lot of her films and emulated her image.” She is using Book of Secrets by Loreena McKenitt for the long program. “I wanted something completely different from the short program,” she said, “to show different feelings and emotions. I wanted to create a more mysterious, elusive image. I tried to use colors that reflect how the music flows. Actually, I went back to a dress from a few years back because the one I had at Nationals wasn’t quite right.” For her exhibition program, Corwin is using Christina Aguilera’s Infatuation. Cindy Stuart choreographs all her programs.
“I want to get more into choreography,” Corwin noted. “I feel I’ve gotten to the point where I can give input, but Cindy still does most of the programs. I’ve been with her since 1996 and I’ve been back working with Charlene since 2001. I’ve gone back to my roots. The only time I didn’t train with Charlene was when she and Scott (Williams) were organizing the American Open.”
Corwin came by her athletic talent naturally. Her father was an accomplished surfer, while her grandfather competed nationally in gymnastics. “I started skating when I was five,” she remembered. “My dad took me to a family fun night of skating for my school and I begged him to let me have lessons. I did skating, gymnastics, soccer, and ballet from the time I was in kindergarten until fifth grade, and then skating became my life. I was good on the beam and I loved doing cartwheels. I also ran track in school, mostly the mile. I still live near the beach so I go and play beach volleyball or go boogie boarding,” she said.
She also has a big music collection. “I buy a couple of CDs every week,” she said. “I like dance music and female vocalists. When I skate, I really like jazz and New Age music. I go out dancing once in a while, but I can’t stay out that late any more. I just like hanging out with my friends and having dinner parties.”
As if she didn’t already have enough to do, the popular skater is one of the athlete representatives for the International Skating Union. “The Code of Points is great,” she said. “I had input into the initial discussions and I’m going to The Hague in June to give a report to the Congress on what the athletes feel. Some of them fear change, but CoP is helping us excel. It’s much more objective. I’ve made changes in my program after every competition. It makes me focus on what I do best and really improve the quality of my skating, especially the connecting steps and flow. After the Nebelhorn Trophy, I looked at the judges’ marks and my program and took out a lot of back crossovers. There’s a much greater reward for balanced skating. Now I’m getting credit for things I did before but never got noticed when everyone was focusing just on the jumps.”