Abbott Taking it One Step at a Time

Jeremy Abbott

It has been an action-packed year for America’s Jeremy Abbott.

The two-time and reigning national champion earned a berth on the 2010 U.S. Olympic team and skated into ninth place in Vancouver. A few weeks later he rose above that disappointment and placed fifth at the subsequent World Championships in Torino, Italy, his highest placement to date.

“I definitely pulled things together after the Olympics and got my head in the right place. I had a good experience in Torino,” he said.

Abbott headed directly to Florida after Worlds to begin rehearsals for the U.S. Stars on Ice tour. “It was the first time I had ever been on a tour, so it was very exciting,” he said. “It was something I had wanted to do since I was a little kid.

“I performed in all 41 shows over a two-month period. It was an unusual thing for me to be in such close quarters with so many people for such a long time, but I really enjoyed the whole experience, getting to know my castmates, and being part of a group. I really enjoyed touring.”

When he received an invitation to perform in the “2010 All That Skate Summer” shows in Korea in July, Abbott said he was very excited. “The Koreans always put on such great shows, and it is so much fun to be a part of that. The audiences are probably the loudest and most exciting that I have ever skated for. It is such an adrenalin rush.”

A scheduling conflict prevented him from performing in the “All That Skate LA” shows.

During the off-season Abbott turned to two new choreographers – Antonio Najarro and David Wilson – to craft his new programs. “I want to do a lot more with my skating this year. I needed to break out of my shell and become a lot stronger in my performances, and I really wanted programs that are authentic, unique and colorful this season,” the 25-year-old explained.

The short program Najarro designed to “Viejos Aires” by Ensamble Nuevo Tango has proven to be a challenge. “It is a Tango but the movement is Tango, Flamenco and contemporary,” Abbott said. “It is very original and certainly not like anything I have ever done before. This program is very demanding choreographically, and it requires a lot of work. It is very outgoing and passionate, and it was not comfortable for me initially.

“It has taken a lot of work for me to even become remotely comfortable with it, and I still have a long way to go.”

Working with Wilson was also an adventure. “I have wanted to work with David for a long time, and finally things worked out,” Abbott said. “He choreographed my long program to ‘La Vita è Bella’ [Life is Beautiful] by Nicola Piovani. David had a few ideas, but this one struck a chord with me. I love the program.

“I have had excellent feedback on both my programs. They are both quite extroverted, so I think my skating will be very different this season.”

Abbott has found a comfortable training environment in Bloomfield Hills, Ill., where he works with Yuka Sato and Jason Dungeon. “They are fantastic coaches and mentors,” Abbott said. “I listen to everything they say because I value and respect their opinion so much, but they also value and respect mine. It is great to have a little more control over my career.”

At press time, Abbott was scheduled to compete at NHK Trophy in Japan and Rostelecom Cup in Russia. “It was pointed to me out that I have never medaled at either of them, so I am hoping to change that,” the 2008 Grand Prix Final champion said with a laugh.

“This season I really want more consistency with fewer highs and lows, and I want to be on the World podium,” he added. “I am going to do everything within my power to achieve that goal.”

When asked how long he intends to continue competing, Abbott said he has no set timelines in place. “In my head I have committed to this season and next, but then I will take it one season at a time and see where I am with my life and my skating. I think the main thing is if I am happy and healthy and things are continuing to go well, then I will stay in the sport.

“I am not ruling out the next four years because I would love to compete at the Games in Sochi. I had so much fun in Vancouver, it was a fantastic experience.”

Originally published in December 2010