Joey Russell, a 19-year-old from Labrador City, Newfoundland, had a successful skating season in 2006-07. The 2006 Canadian junior men’s champion finished sixth in senior men in 2007 in his first season as a senior. He had previously won the silver medal in both pre-novice men (2003) and novice men (2004). He placed fourth at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Montreal in 2005 and fourth in Budapest in 2006, then finished 11th at the 2007 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.
This season he has already finished 11th at the Nebelhorn Trophy in September and third at Octoberfest in Barrie last week.
“My goal for last season was to make Junior Worlds,” he said. “I was disappointed about not going the year before, but I was much better prepared in 2007. The Junior Grand Prixs helped me know what to expect. I wish I’d had a better JGP season, but I had to take three months off to finish school. I’d hoped to be in the top five at Nationals and make the international team, but it wasn’t bad for my first year in seniors.”
The talented teen capped off last season by winning the Joe Mullins Memorial Award for the 2006 Junior Male Athlete of the Year Sport at the Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Awards. He became the first person to win the award in three consecutive years.
Russell began skating when he was six. “My babysitter was into skating,” he remembered. “I wanted to be just like her. She used to jump around in the living room.” Russell learned his double axel when he was 13 and landed his first triple salchow the same year. He landed his first triple axel just a week and a half before Junior Worlds and plans to have two triple axels in his long program in 2007-08.
In last season’s programs, Russell used a triple lutz/triple toe loop in the short program and a triple salchow/triple loop, triple flip/double toe loop, and double axel/triple toe/double toe in the long. He has tried both the quad toe loop and the quad salchow in practice. “The salchow is my favorite jump,” he noted. “I’ve haven’t landed the quad yet, but I’ve been able to get full rotation.” During the summer, Russell was working on the consistency of his triple axel as well as the quads.
Russell works with a team of coaches at the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ontario. His head coach is Lee Barkell, but he also takes instruction from Dough Leigh, Paige Aistrop, and David Islam. He moved to Barrie in June 2005. “I was training in Edmonton and it was going good, but I went looking for the place with the best guy skaters for motivation,” Russell said. “Being on the ice with them is so incredible. If they see that I’m doing something wrong, they tell me and I’m eager to take that advice.” He trains on ice for three and a half hours a day, five days a week with another hour a day off ice.
Lance Vipond originally choreographed his 2006-07 short program, which he used for three seasons, but he changed the music last year to use “Tango No. 4” by George Cromwell. Kelley modified the program to fit the new music. “I tried two other programs, but then went back to what I’d used in novice and juniors,” Russell said. “It was very much my style and easy to skate to.” He went to David Wilson for the first time in 2006-07 to choreograph a new long program to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. “He suggested ‘An American in Paris’, but I had done that before,” Russell explained. “I like to skate to something interesting that has a lot of highs and lows.”
Russell worked with Wilson again to develop his 2007-08 short program using “Catch Me If You Can” from the movie. Sebastien Britten choreographed his long program, again going with film soundtracks from “Munich” and “Good Bye Lenin”..
Off ice, he listens to everything from the Beatles to Cold Play. “I have music on my iPod that pumps me up,” he said. He has played the piano since he was seven and played with his school band. For fun, he enjoys hanging out with friends, watching television and going to horror movies and comedies. He also likes to go bowling, snowmobiling, snowboarding and snow tubing.
Russell has graduated from high school and hopes to go to university. “I still miss high school,” he said. “My teachers made everything fun. I’d like to go into the arts. My mother was an art teacher. I like to draw and paint, mainly in acrylics. It takes my mind off of skating.”
“This season, I’m hoping to be in some Grand Prixs so I can get some more international experience and world points,” Russell stated. “I used to board with Anabelle Langlois and she’s given me some good advice. She told me to aim high and you’ll still finish high even if you don’t do as well as you hoped. I want to go to the Olympics in 2010, but if I miss out, I’ll try again for 2014 if I stay injury free.”