Friday, 20/4/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Czisny Impresses in First Grand Prix Season

Alissa Czisny

U. S. skater Alissa Czisny made a big impression on judges and fans alike at her first ISU Grand Prix event when she finished fourth at Skate America in October. She was invited only the Sunday before the competition to replace Michelle Kwan. “After my program at Regionals, the President of the USFSA called and invited me to Skate America,” Czisny said. “I had two days at home before coming to Pittsburgh. It was hard to get ready at the last minute, but I was very excited to be there.”

Czisny took the junior ladies silver medal at U.S. Nationals in 2001 and has had modest success in junior internationals since then. She won the Triglav Trophy in 2001 and the Gardena Spring Trophy in 2002. Then she took the silver medal at both her ISU Junior Grand Prix events in 2002, Courchevel and Skate Slovakia, to qualify for the 2002-2003 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final, where she placed fifth. But she has not been as successful in seniors at U. S. Nationals, finishing 11th, tenth, and 12th in the last three years. Competing as a senior this season, she won the U. S. Collegiate Championships, then finished fourth at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany before winning the Eastern Great Lakes Regional the week before Skate America.

“I love to compete,” she said. “I love jumping and spinning. I really like spins. They’re fun to do.” Czisny is using a triple lutz-double toe loop in the short, adding a triple toe-double toe in the long. “I don’t have any triple-triples in my programs,” she said, “but I’m working on triple toe-triple toe and triple loop-triple loop. I’d like to try a triple axel or a quad someday.” She also includes a Charlotte spiral, Ina Bauer, and Sasha spin in her long program. “I was always curious about the moves which different skaters made,” she said. “My sister and I used to make up different moves when we were practicing. We like to compete with one another in a good way. It helps us improve.” Her twin sister, Amber, also competes in senior ladies.

“I started skating before I was two,” Czisny said. “My mom started a skating class at the university and took me and my sister to the rink with her.” She landed her first triple toe loop when she was ten or eleven, quickly followed by a triple lutz, her favorite jump. When she was first starting to skate, Czisny also participated in gymnastics and ballet, but had to choose one discipline when she was six.

Julianne Berlin and Theresa McKendry are Czisny’s primary coaches, assisted by Elizabeth Swallow. “Alissa has a great work ethic,” Berlin said. “She trains like a champion every day. She never gives up. She always perseveres.” Czisny has trained with Berlin since 1998, but just began working with Swallow this year. “Liz works with me on stroking and my dances,” she said. The 17-year-old trains at the Detroit Skating Club and Arctic Edge Skating Club. She practices for three hours a day on ice, five days a week, and takes a ballet class three to five days a week depending on her class schedule. In the summer, she also does Pilates.

McKendry choreographs all of Czisny’s programs, although her sister Amber also helps out. “Alissa has a very elegant, soft look on the ice,” McKendry said. “She’s very fluid, like a dancer. She has all her golds in ice dance.” This season, Czisny is using “The Mission” for the short and Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” for the long. “Both programs are the same as last year,” Czisny said. “They were good programs for me but I didn’t do that well at Nationals with them so I kept them. I usually keep programs for two years. When you keep them longer, they get better. The lady that cuts our music found The Mission. It’s different from the movie. I just heard the long program music and liked it. I usually use a lot of stuff from ballet. It’s a nice style for me.”

She listens to classical music off ice as well as artists like Sarah Brightman. “My favorite is Enrique,” she said. Czisny also plays the piano. Many of her hobbies are artistic in nature. “I make a lot of jewelry,” she said. “My whole family is artistic. My grandfather painted and my mom and my sister do lots of art. I do a little sculpture too. I like 3-D art.” She also enjoys reading historical fiction, rollerblading, cycling, tennis and racquetball. Czisny’s favorite trip so far were to Gardena, Italy and Obertsdorf, Germany. She hopes to travel to Australia, Hawaii and Florida someday.

Czisny is in her first year of studies at Bowling Green State University, where she is on a full academic scholarship. As a result, she is taking a full load of classes, concentrating on languages. “I’d like to do translating,” she said.

As for her skating career, “I want to stay focused and skate my best,” she said. “It would be nice to be in the top six at Nationals.”

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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