Tennessean Wesley Campbell was a late addition to the U. S. team at last season’s World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, replacing Dennis Phan, who was injured. With less than two weeks to prepare for the event, Campbell finished ninth in his qualifying round but 25th in the short to miss the free skate.
“I only got the assignment about a week and a half before the event,” Campbell said. “I was taking it easy after Nationals, trying to take some time off from training, and it was hard to get back into the training and competing mode. I was glad to have the opportunity to compete and had a qood qualifying round. I had been solid in the short all year long, but I wasn’t prepared enough to overcome the first mistake. I need to be mentally tougher. But it was a great experience and I enjoyed it.”
The 19-year-old was 14th in his first try at seniors at U. S. Nationals in 2005. After winning the intermediate men’s event in 1999, he reached fourth in novice in 2002 and third in juniors in 2004. His only international medal was a silver at the 2002 Belgrade Sparrow. Last season, he finished tenth at the Junior Grand Prix in Harbin, China. “I’ll only compete in seniors next season,” Campbell said. “I’m more comfortable with the senior program because you have more time to breathe and relax a little and get into the program. The extra 30 seconds makes a lot of difference.”
Campbell began skating at the age of five. “I had always enjoyed watching skating on television since I was two,” he recalled. He also enjoyed participating in other sports such as hockey, baseball, swimming, and gymnastics. He actually started gymnastics before he began skating, at three, and continued for eight years, before deciding when he was eleven that he only wanted to compete in skating. “I was good in all the events, but I especially liked floor exercise,” he said.
He landed his first triple jump, a triple salchow, when he was 12, but noted that his best jump was the triple flip. Campbell had a fairly consistent triple axel a year and a half ago, but a series of boot problems hampered him throughout the 2004-05 season, affecting his ability to complete the jump. “I went through four pairs of boots in four months,” Campbell said. “I had new boots for every event last season.”
During the summer, Campbell has been working on adding a triple-triple combination and trying to improve the levels on his footwork and spins to get to level three. In regards to trying other disciplines, Campbell said, “I’ve thought about trying pairs or dance, but I love singles. I feel like I’ve worked hard and done it on my own.”
Elena Garanina and Valeriy Spiridonov coach Campbell, who now trains in Ashburn, VA. He works on ice for two to three hours a day, five days a week. He spends another two to three hours of off ice training, which includes ballet, Pilates, cardio training and weights.
Bill Fauver choreographed Campbell’s programs last season, but he did a little of his own choreography in his long program. His short program was to “Vocalise” by Sergei Rachmaninov while his long was to “On the Waterfront” by Leonard Bernstein. “I chose the music for both programs,” Campbell said. “The long was old and the short was new. I feel the story behind both pieces. In On the Waterfront, a man overcomes a lot of difficulties in life. He has to be tough, but has a soft side. The music really moved me. For the short, I always wanted to skate to cello music. It has a personal meaning to me.”
“I always want to tell a story with my programs,” he continued. “I love doing my own choreography for exhibitions. I often do it on the fly.” He used “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” by Sting last season.
Off ice, music is one of his passions. In that he takes after his parents, both of whom are songwriters and musicians. Campbell plays the piano and enjoys writing music himself. Although he’s from Tennessee, he doesn’t enjoy country music. Instead, he likes to listen to new bands in the city.
Campbell also enjoys playing tennis, swimming and watching all kinds of movies. He has a large coin collection from when he was younger, but doesn’t really add to it anymore. He said he has “a ton of stuffed animals from competitions. I’m very nostalgic and they bring back a lot of good memories.” He also writes poetry on his computer, but isn’t a fan of video games. “They stress me out,” he said.
Campbell graduated from high school in 2004 and is taking a year off from school to concentrate on his skating. He plans to study architecture in college and is also interested in writing. Currently, he teaches skating for about 15 hours a week and is interested in working in skating after he finishes competing, perhaps as a choreographer. “I’m still uncertain about the future,” he said. “It all depends on where I am in my skating and my personal life. But I want to continue skating through 2010 for sure.”