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Interview With Parker Pennington

With an immense love for the sport, Parker Pennington competed in over 10 U.S. National Championships, winning the U.S. juvenile, intermediate, novice and junior titles. After years of competing, Parker created a very unique project called Skate Dance Dream, which pairs young skaters with talented and experienced figure skaters and dancers and gives them the opportunity to perform along side them. I had chance to catch up with Parker and ask him a few questions.

Thumbnail photograph of American figure skater Parker Pennington

Q: You were a juvenile, intermediate, novice and junior U.S. men's champion? That's insane! Which of those victories was the sweetest?

A: Wow, that is a good question. I would have to say the junior title. It was one that I felt like was my hardest victory. I was in third after the short and came back to win, delivering a strong free skate. It was my grittiest win of the four and the one I appreciate the most therefore.

Q: In total, you competed in over TEN U.S. National Championships. What gave you the drive to keep going and what is one of your favourite memories from your competitive skating days?

A: I was driven for sure-it was my dream to be on the World & Olympic Team at the time, but when I didn't quite my achieve those particular goals, it was my passion and love for skating that kept me going strong. I always and have continued to just love the glide of the ice, as it takes me to my 'happy place'. I love that feeling of being completely engrossed in what I am doing. As for my favorite memory, that most definitely was my short program at the 2009 U.S. Nationals in Cleveland. I think it was my all-around best skate and it was just in the right place, being literally "my backyard" (trained in Lakewood, just 10 miles outside of Cleveland). I had a standing ovation and let out some fist pumps and even shouted a yes during my program (after the death drop). It was a moment I will never forget, although looking back I wish I had jumped into the crowd, Cleveland Dog Pound style! Every time I watch that performance, I get all teary eyed. Yes, I cry for figure skating. Insert joke here.

Q: What's one song you'd love to perform to and never have?

A: There's so many songs I love and feel like I could skate to....and they are currently all on the tip of my tongue haha. My only wish in looking back, is that I would have tapped into my true creativity as a skater and artist. I believe I could skate to just about anything now. I feel like I was geared a certain way coming up towards technique (which helped with the W's!), but I never really thought outside of that capacity. Once I stopped competing, all of a sudden it hit me. Now, I take all of that creativity I have had stored up for all of the years and pass it on to others (choreography and our Skate Dance Dream show productions).

Q: Tell us about Skate Dance Dream. What is it and what are its greatest successes to date?

A: Skate Dance Dream is a full show production experience that fuses figure skating and dance. That's right, there's a dance stage on the ice! But more importantly, we give youth figure skaters and dancers the opportunity to perform with and learn from the Stars, through show rehearsals, meet & greets, group numbers, seminars and more. The Stars being World Team members and U.S. National Medallists, along with Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance?" finalists. With Skate Dance Dream, we have one main goal: to inspire skaters and dancers alike. We believe every child deserves the chance to be on the same platform next to the Stars. There is a big difference between seeing the Stars on television and getting to see them (let alone perform with and learn from them!) in real life. I don't know if it is just me being a dreamer but I think, what skater or dancer wouldn't want to do this? The greatest successes of the show has been seeing that all the children have a smile on their face and they look like they are having the time of their life.

Q: Who's your skating idol? Who's one skater you love that not many people may know about?

A: Okay, skating idols: Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning are the guys I looked up to growing up. I will give you several skaters that not a lot of people may know as well... Ryan Jahnke and Matt Savoie. Loved their creativity---they were clearly ahead of the times, which most true artists are. And, just to throw out some other names, although they are notable I just love to watch them: Alissa Czisny, Michelle Kwan, Ryan Bradley, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto, Kim Navarro & Brent Bommentre. I also love watching all the up-and-comers! They are the future of our sport and I think their is a lot of budding potential!

Q: What are your goals these days and where do you see yourself in five years?

A: My goals purely revolve around Skate Dance Dream. You know how some people live, eat, breathe what they do. Yeah, that's me with Skate Dance Dream. Of course I love production and all the creativity, but that's not what drives me every day. Skate Dance Dream is the chance for us to inspire many people from different walks of life. At our core, we want to inspire skaters and dancers and teach them to love what they do, be themselves and dream big. As for where I see myself in five years, I want us to have a touring show across the nation..but for right now, it is just taking one glide at a time.

Q: If a tree fell in the forest, which judge would you like it to fall on?

A: Oh my goodness, you are hilarious Ryan! Where do you come up with these questions hahaha! In all honesty, I will say no one - just because I realize every person has their voice and opinion, and as always, I take what those that were hard on me had to say and I worked on what I needed to do in order to be become a better skater. In the end, that's what it is all about anyways: being the absolute best you can be. Placement was always the icing on the cake.

Q: What are your thoughts on professional figure skating? It was MASSIVE in the 1990's and professional figure skating competitions are few and far between these days. Would you compete if they made a resurgance?

A: I would love to watch it, that's for sure! We have so many personalities in skating (both new and old) and I feel like the world is missing out on them! As for me, would I want to get out there and compete again? No. I don't miss those days! While some have that 'itch" and may love to compete, I feel that way about helping and inspire others. I want to share my passion of figure skating and dance!

Q: What's your favourite book and why?

A: I like how you spell favorite, 'favourite', so French of you, Love it haha!!! I really like James Patterson and Dan Brown books. Although I am about to start into some autobiographies. Am hoping they have ones for Ellen Degeneres and Oprah Winfrey. Would also love to meet them one day.

Q: Is there one thing about you a lot of people may not know or your skating you'd love to share with them?

A: I have a great sense of humor, I can always pull the good out of any situation or experience and I just love to learn! Okay, so I guess that actually counts as 3 things! :)

Learn more about Parker and Skate Dance Dream at Skate Dance Dream have a show coming up May 19, 2013 in Lakewood, Ohio. 

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":