Golden Skate

Interview with Katy Taylor

Katy Lynn Taylor performs her long program to Themes and Variations by P. I. Tchaikovski at the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Katy Lynn Taylor made a bit of a splash on the figure skating scene when she placed second in the novice division a mere four-and-a half years ago at the 2003 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She placed second again the following year in the junior division in addition to winning the bronze at the 2004 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

“My goal at 2004 Junior Worlds was to place in the top ten,” said Taylor, “so to have the bronze medal to take home was really cool. That performance was probably one of my better ones of that season.”

The next year, Taylor made her senior debut at the 2005 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, finishing ninth. The following year, she placed fourth at nationals and then won the title at the 2006 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. Taylor set her personal best scores under the ISU’s new judging system at that event.

“I was super excited because it (Four Continents) was my first senior international event and I really just wanted to go out there and do two good skates, which I did,” recalled Taylor.

This past season, Taylor competed for the first time on the senior Grand Prix circuit, placing 11th at Skate America and 12th at Skate Canada. She also won the bronze medal at Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany and finished eighth at nationals in January.

Taylor, 17, resides in Houston, Texas and currently trains under coaches Jana Conter and Mark Poole.

Larry (USA): You had a fantastic 2005-06 season, with a win at Four Continents and the pewter medal at Nationals. In 2006-07, it seemed like you upped the ante in terms of maturity of presentation, but technical bobbles held you back. Can you give us some insight into how a skater can find the right balance between the two, in terms of training and preparation?

Katy: I am always trying to balance all aspects of my skating and to keep all my elements at a high level so that I am a well-rounded skater. Basically, finding the right balance is being comfortable with your presentation, being prepared and well trained technically, and believing in yourself. At the beginning of my season last year I was dealing with a lot of negative issues. I struggled with boot problems, and later realized that I was not in the best shape I could be in. Sometimes these things are hard to see when you are in the middle of them. It is very important that everyone on your team work together as a team so that you can be your best. I got into shape quickly for Nationals with a new trainer who was very focused and had my best interest at heart. Soon all my technical elements improved drastically which gave me confidence and helped my presentation. I think my technical elements were very strong by Nationals which showed in the short program. I had been running clean short and long programs at home in practice. I was so consistent and ready. However, I always say that figure skating takes a lot of hard work and dedication and a little bit of luck. Luck was just not on my side for the long program.

Jim (USA): Katy, a great Short program at US Nationals, followed by a disaster in the long. Can you take us through what happened and what went wrong?

Katy: To this day I still wonder what happened in the long program at Nationals. I was so prepared for Nationals. I probably missed more things in that one program than I missed all week at Nationals during all the practices combined. I always train my programs all the way through, even if I miss the first jump. It’s always difficult to recover from a fall, but it really didn’t bother me too much. For some reason I could not get into the long program or the music at Nationals. Maybe it was a little out of my comfort zone with everything that had already happened during the season. This year we looked for music that I can feel comfortable with and tell a story which helps me not to over think my elements. That is how I felt with my short program at Nationals. It was almost as if I got into my own world, and everything just seemed to fly by with ease. That’s what we are trying to achieve with my new long program this year.

Larry (USA): Last year your season got off to a disastrous start at the first two Grand Prix events. Would you prefer to have a later GP assignment, say Cup of Russia and NHK? Do you know what your Grand Prix schedule will be next year?

Katy: At this point I would be happy to receive any Grand Prix assignment. I’m not feeling too confident about receiving a Grand Prix this year considering my placements last year, but that’s alright because I will use every competition I can to prepare myself for Nationals next year. I wouldn’t say that I did so poorly because it was early in the season; I just needed to change my off-ice trainer in order to be in better shape physically and mentally.

Anthony (USA): Now that the figure skating season has come to an end, how would you evaluate your skating this year? By looking at these aspects, what are you going to be focusing on for next year?

Katy: I didn’t achieve what I wanted to this year, and my season doesn’t look too great by looking at placements, but I would still evaluate my season as successful. I learned so much about myself as a skater and a person this year. I know how much to push myself, and I know not to push myself too far. I learned that I am a skater who needs to relate to her music more and understand it. I learned that even if a few things go wrong early in the season, you can still turn your season around. Next year I am going to keep focusing on the positive aspects of my skating and not let anything knock my confidence down.

Carmillia (USA): Do you have a triple/triple planned for next season?

Katy: I do have a triple/triple planned for next season. I am continuously working on several different ones to see which one is best for me in my program and under pressure.

Larisa (CAN): In regards to the 2006-07 season, what do you feel you lost the most points on?

Katy: I lost the most points by popping my jumps. When I pop a jump, I don’t receive any points for it, and that is worse than falling on a rotated jump. One of my goals for next season is to do everything planned in my program even if it’s not perfect, and to have no regrets.

Mary (USA): How do you deal with disappointing results?

Katy: You have to put disappointments behind you or turn them into a positive where you can take something from the experience to use to make you better. You have to be tough. You can’t let disappointing results knock you down or drive you away from the sport that you love.

Sean (USA): Are you feeling more pressure in the idea of “improving US ladies figure skating’s contention in the world standings”? Or is it still “business as usual”?

Katy: I personally don’t feel the pressure of improving the U.S. ladies contention in the world standings. I think we have a great future ahead of us. The senior ladies short program at Nationals this year showed everyone what we are made of, and we have a lot of young talented ones coming up, too.

Adriana (USA): I love watching your skating and your spunkiness out on the ice. You have been friends with Kimmie Meissner and Danielle Kahle for a long time. Has your friendship stayed the same or is their a more competitive nature between the three of you now that you are all competing in the senior level? Best of luck next season!!

Katy: Thank you for your nice comments and well wishes. Actually, the three of us don’t get to travel together much anymore. However, when we do see each other like at Nationals, it’s always friendly. We love talking about old memories from when we use to travel together.

Larry (USA): Is it weird to have to go out there with the mindset of trying to clobber your pal (Kimmie Meissner) and knock her off the podium?

Katy: I am never focused on the other competitors around me. I only think about myself and what I have control over. I can’t change the way the judges are going to mark something, and I can’t change how someone else is going to skate. But, I do have control over myself and my skating, so before I take the ice that is all I am focused on.

Sydney (USA): What do you do with your dresses after you retire a program?

Katy: So far I have kept all of my competition dresses. It is too hard to give them away right now because each one has a special memory, and they are so beautiful. My dressmaker, Mrs. Margaret at Skate Texas here in Houston has made my dresses since I was 6 years old.

Ashley (USA): Have you picked program music for next season yet? Is so, can you share?

Katy: I have picked my music for this season. I will post my long program music soon when I update my USFS bio. I will say that I am keeping my short program to the music from Legends of the Fall which I skated at Nationals. My long program is a new program with new music. I think it suits me very well, and I can really relate to it emotionally.

Nigel (USA): If you had the chance to work with any choreographer throughout the history of skating, who would that be, and why?

Katy: Well, that’s a hard question. There are so many talented choreographers in skating, and everyone has their own unique style. I think they are all great, but you have to find one that fits your style or can help you achieve the look you are going for. I have worked with Lea Ann Miller twice, and I really enjoyed learning from her. She is so talented. I think our styles blended together very well, and at the same time I learned a lot from her. My coach choreographed my new short program right before Nationals this past season and my new long program for this year. I think both programs fit me great because she knows all my strengths and weaknesses and what looks best on me. She knows my skating better than anyone because she has coached me for 11 ½ years. For this year we felt it was important to focus on what is comfortable for me in terms of choreography. In the future I would like to work with different choreographers because you learn so much from different people.

Annie F. (USA): If you could skate to any piece of music, not thinking of rules, for your Free Skate, what would you choose?

Katy: Well, if I didn’t have to think about rules, I would choose something with words like I do when I skate to an exhibition program. As far as free skate music, I would have to choose Forrest Gump Suite. That piece of music will always be close to my heart, and I would love to skate to it again someday.

Judith (USA): A gorgeous SP at Nationals this year! I was so impressed by your choice of music (“Theme and Variations” by Tchaikovsky). Did you feel a special connection to that music and did that connection contribute to your lovely performance?

Katy: Thank you for the wonderful compliments! My short program was actually skated to Legends of the Fall and my long program was skated to Theme and Variations. And yes, I did have a special connection to my short program music. I knew right when I heard the music that it was the piece for me. I never get tired of hearing that piece of music. I think that is important since we train our programs everyday. I feel like when the music starts I can get into the program and not worry about anything else. I also loved my long program music, and I could connect to it as well, but I never could relate to it the same way as my short program music.

Alice (USA): What is your favorite program so far and why?

Katy: My favorite program so far would definitely be my short program to Legends of the Fall. I am using that program again this year, and I am so excited to compete with it again. My long program to Forrest Gump Suite would have to be a close second, however.

Larry (USA): Do you have any college plans yet?

Katy: Yes, I definitely plan to go to college. I am very interested in The University of Texas in Austin, Texas and some other Texas colleges. I will be a senior in high school next year, so I will finalize my decision then.

Alana (USA): I would like to know what your preferred brand of skating tights are and why?

Katy: Well, that’s a question I’ve never been asked before. I wear Danskin tights, and I always have. They are very comfortable, and they last a long time, too.

Sean (USA): How much free time do you get and what do you like to do with it?

Katy: I don’t get too much free time with my busy training schedule, school, and volunteer work. When I do get free time I like to hang out with my friends or my brother, play tennis with my dad, bake with my mom, or walk my dog. I also enjoy swimming, jumping on my trampoline, driving, and going to baseball games.

Larry (USA): You have an eye-catching flair and style that easily translates to off-ice activities. Have you had opportunities yet for endorsements and promotional events? Any interest in acting?

Katy: Thank you for the compliment! I have not been given any opportunities for endorsements or promotional events, but I think it would be really cool. I use to be interested in acting; however that has changed as I have gotten older. I no longer have an interest in acting at this time. Since my plans for the future change a lot and I have a lot of interests, who knows what I’ll end up doing.

Sean (USA): A friend of mine and I started calling you Katy “Texas” Taylor. “Skaty Katy” just didn’t fit in our vocabulary and he is a Texan too. What is your favorite part of Texas – outside of “home town” Houston?

Katy: My favorite part of Texas is Austin and the hill country, especially Garner State Park. I spent many summer vacations there when I was younger. We would always go camping in my grandparents R.V., hiking, biking, and tubing down the Frio River. Even though it was a long time ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. Those are great memories!

Tara (USA): How close are you towards that pink Hummer?

Katy: I am not any closer to my pink Hummer than I was a year ago. As I get closer to college I have to save my money for that and also for my skating. I haven’t given up the dream though, and I still plan to drive a hot pink Hummer H3 (the small version) someday. I have actually seen a hot pink Hummer truck parked at the mall here in Houston.

Sean (USA): Do you enjoy any other sports? Participating or spectating? Who do admire that is not of the figure skating world?

Katy: I enjoy playing tennis, and I love to watch gymnastics when it comes on television. I admire Apolo Anton Ohno and Tiger Woods because they always stay so focused and never let their emotions get the best of them. They seem like very dedicated, down to earth athletes.

Paula: Thank you very much for taking out the time to answer questions! What advice would you give to young skaters who are considering ‘competitive skating’?

Katy: I would tell young skaters to make sure they enjoy the sport, and that they are skating for themselves and not for anyone else. You have to love the sport because it is a very difficult one when times get tough, and you need your love and passion for the sport to push you through the hard times. Turn every negative into a positive, and never give up if it’s something that you love.