Michael Weiss has never been one to rest on his laurels. At age 34, the three-time U.S. champion and two-time World bronze medalist is as busy as ever.
Weiss splits his time between work and family, and when I caught up with him on the road between skating shows he was juggling both. “I wear two different hats,” he explained. “One hat is as an entertainer and performer for half the year, and then the other hat is as a husband and father at home for the other six months. I am very involved with my kids’ activities — I like being able to do both.”
Weiss and his wife Lisa have two children, Annie Mae, 10, and Christopher, 9.
Skating and parenthood have each contributed to the other, Weiss said. Parenting has provided him with a balanced perspective in that landing a triple Axel is not as important as being part of a family or being a good husband.
Family is one of the things that Weiss holds near and dear. He recognizes the enormous support and sacrifices his own family made during his competitive career.
Weiss said he always wanted to do something for the next generation of skaters, and that wish came true via the Michael Weiss Foundation, through which he is able to financially assist some of America’s up-and-coming Olympic figure skating hopefuls.
Every December, scholarships are handed out to skaters who meet the foundation’s criteria. The determining factors of where the money should go include the level of skating skill and Olympic potential, as well as a skater’s commitment to get an education. Richard Dornbush, the 2010-11 Junior Grand Prix Final champion, is one such recipient.
Since January 2004, the foundation has raised over $300,000, primarily through the “Ice Champions LIVE,” an annual skating show he produces.
As an amateur, Weiss was known for his athletic and elegant skating and for his innovative twists on everyday moves like his “Mike Pike.” The latest Weiss innovation is called the “Tornado” that is an impressive back flip with a full twist done on the ice.
Taking advantage of his training in gymnastics and diving as a child and with help from his father, a former Olympic gymnast, Weiss first executed the “Tornado” on a trampoline during an outdoor party at his home a few years ago. Elvis Stojko and Sasha Cohen, his cast mates on Champions on Ice at the time, persuaded him to take the move to the ice.
“My dad said: ‘I think we can do it.’ I had a hockey helmet and pads and two skaters on each side with a harness,” he recalled. “Then we moved to hand spotting and my Dad was on the ice in shoes. Slowly I started to do it myself. It is the scariest thing I do on the ice.”
Weiss performed in four television skating specials that aired over the 2010 holiday season. In January, he toured Japan with Stars on Ice and will be performing on the U.S. tour this year.
Not surprisingly, his favorite professional memory is from a tour. “Being a part of the Stars on Ice cast two years ago was so special,” he recalled. “We had a great group and every person on the tour — Todd [Eldredge], Sasha [Cohen], Marie-France [Dubreuil] and Patrice [Lauzon], Jennifer [Robinson], Ilia Kulik and I all had a great time. It was my best pro experience. We enjoyed performing together and hanging out off the ice. Being part of that cast is something I won’t forget.”
Weiss is grateful for what life has offered him. He said that if he hadn’t been a figure skater, he would have likely become a hockey player — although he admitted with a chuckle that he isn’t sure if he would have been big enough or tough enough.
“I enjoy that my son plays hockey and when I am in town I do a lot of the drills with his team,” Weiss said.
His daughter is a singer and has performed live during skating performances, including those of her father.
Weiss also loves to build things. He and his wife have built a few houses in their spare time and he said that this might be a primary pursuit after he hangs up his skates.
“I really enjoy being a dad, a family man as well as a skater and performer,” he said. “I know there are not that many opportunities left for me in skating, so right now I am enjoying all of it.”
So are we.
Originally published in April 2011