Interview with Shaun Rogers


by Helga Dobor & Rosalie Paalberends
Photos © Ann Jensen & Shaun Rogers


Shaun Rogers placed 2nd at the last month’s Eastern Sectionals and as a result qualified for the 2006 State Farm US Nationals which will be held IN St. Louis, Missouri.
Despite being extremely busy preparing for the Nationals and having just done a show one day before this interview, he took the time to sit down with us and answer our questions.

What was this show like?

It was the Nationals send-off show at my rink. We do this show every year before the Nationals. All the skaters at the rink who made it do either a show or their short program. Usually the rink sells out for it. Some of the participating skaters were Kimmie Meissner, Tiffany Scott and Rusty Fein, Christine Zukowski, Geoff Varner, Bridget Namiotka and John Coughlin. Also, we had a dance teams from Japan and Bulgaria. Overall, we had 43 people on the team this year.

How long was it ?

It was about two and a half hour long. We had all the kids who made it to the Junior Nationals participate, as well as a few Juvenile/Intermediates.

Was the show broadcasted?

No, it wasn’t. However, they taped the programs of me and Kimmie for a DVD they are making the University to help explain the new judging system to coaches. I think they're selling copies to anyone who wants one too. :)

Jumping back to when your skating career started… Are there any other skaters in your family?

I'm the only skater in my family. - smiles - Usually I have to explain that I'm not playing hockey. I started skating in group lessons when I was eight years old after I went to an ice skating party my grade school held and I had a lot of fun.

Who was your favourite when you were a child and who is your favourite now?

My parents watched a lot of the professional stuff that was on TV all the time back then, so I always liked Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning a lot. And competitive skating-wise, probably Plushenko.

Have you ever met any of them?

I met Scott Hamilton at my first Nationals when I was there as a Novice. I remember him giving a speech. Afterwards my parents got into a conversation with him somehow, and he told me that he got the same place as me at his first Nationals.

Sounds like a good omen…

I hope so. - smiles.

And how about Browning and Plushenko?

I haven't met either of them before. Maybe if I keep doing well, I'll do some shows with them in the future. I'd like to meet them both.

How do you remember the first time on ice?

I actually just had a lot of fun. I remember the only time I fell the whole time was when those two girls tripped in front of me and I fell down trying to zigzag around them. I think the fact that I didn't fall made me decide to take group lessons.

Do you have more funny stories from the first years of your career?

I'm sure I have a couple. I used to always try to do the show tricks that Phillipe Candeloro would do in his show programs. I was just learning to do crossovers and stuff but I could do his jumping shoot the ducks (or whatever he calls them) and the spin he does on his knees.
And I also remember my first real competition. I had a [now VERY] embarrassing program to the Lion King. My coach and parents thought it would be "cute" to put me in an actual lion costume, and it was ISI rules so my program music had lyrics too. And I was competing against a wide range of people from a 6-year-old girl who had her program order written on a piece of paper that she brought out with her, to a woman in her 20s who had a Harley Davidson kid's tricycle as a prop. - smiles

You skated at more competitions in Europe. Which was your favourite here?

Probably it was my first trip to Junior Worlds in Hamar, Norway. It was a ton of fun, mostly because our whole team was a funny bunch of people, and we spent most of the time with the Canadian team because we shared one entire floor of the hotel.

And what was your most memorable competition?

Probably the Nationals last year. Mainly because it was my first time being in the final "TV" warm-up group, so it was my first time being on a major TV event, but also because I had terrible seasons the two years before (the year before I didn't even make it to the Nationals)

Did it put more pressure on you?

I actually felt a lot less pressure, because not as much was expected of me. I was kind of the "surprise" of the field at Nationals last year.
Two years before that I had more pressure on me because I had been doing well for a few years at Novice/Junior levels, so I had a lot more eyes on me than I did last year.

And you were 8th last year at Junior Worlds. What do you think of the result?

I was okay with the result... I placed where I deserved to finish. I was more dissatisfied with how I skated, as I knew I would've gotten a medal if I did what I was capable of.

This year at your sectionals you placed 2nd, was this result ok also?

Yeah, I skated well there. My short was great, and I was first after that. Scott Smith skated great in his long, definitely better than I did, since I made a lot of small mistakes that really added up in the end. He deserved to win there.

What are you expectations going to the Nationals?

I want to try to improve my placement from last year. Obviously, I'm shooting for a spot on the Olympic team, but so is everyone else. I'll definitely have to skate near perfect there to make the team.

Is there big rivalry between skaters in the US, especially now with three Olympic spots out for grabs?

Well, backstage most of the skaters get along, there's not really much "tooth and claw" type of stuff going on between skaters - most of us get along great 99% of the time. I'm sure it'll get played up a lot when it's televised about all the guys who are going to be retiring after this year. I think there will definitely be some rivalry between them.

Is good friendship between skaters possible?

Yeah, like I said, most of us get along great. A good example is at my rink at the University of Delaware, we have 5 Junior Men who qualified for Nationals and they all get along great, and I'm sure most of them will be competing against me next year. Off the ice pretty much everyone is friend, it's just on the ice where you have to have a more cutthroat attitude. I think it's rather silly for someone to take that attitude off the ice.

And if we are talking about friends.. What do your non skating friends think about your skating career?

Most of them think it's cool. They usually ask me if/when I'll be on TV so they can watch. A lot of my guy friends like to poke fun at me for being a figure skater, but I don't really mind since I know they aren't serious.

And what is the life of a figure skater like in the USA?

It depends a lot on where you train. But in my case, I'm at the rink from about 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM everyday... After that I spend most my free time either with my girlfriend/friends, or at home playing guitar/video games.
I'm taking a break from school this year, but a lot of skaters go to college part-time when they're still competing.

What are your goals in skating?

Well, I kind of take my goals year by year. Right now my goals are to make the Olympic team and to get on the Senior Grand Prix next year. I'd like to stay near the top of the US field for awhile.

And overall, non skating goals?

Just to try and enjoy my life as much as possible, there are lots of things I'm interested in doing. But right now I'm really interested in following music.

What kind of music?

I listen to a LOT of rock music, basically every genre of rock. I actually spend much of my free time alone learning how to play songs I like on guitar and singing.

And do you like to skate to rock music too?

Definitely! I think just about every show program I've done has been to a rock song.

What are your actual programs?

My short program is from the soundtrack to Cinderella Man, and my long is one of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances.

These are very good choices. How much input do you have in your choreography, music choice?

I get a good amount of input. We never use anything that I don't like, as obviously that would make it hard to have fun doing it. Usually my coaches and I will sit down and listen to everything together to pick music. And my choreographer and I have been working together for so long we work really well off of each other thinking of things to do.

What are your favorite programs?

I think my favorite program of my own would be my Matrix program (which I got the same year Brian Joubert got his), as for another skater's program I really liked Michael Weiss's old Santana program.

That was a very good program. To going back to your own skating, what are your strengths and what things to you want to improve?

I think my strengths are all of the technical aspects of my programs. I've been working really hard to improve all the things that get judged under the new Component scores, and I feel I've improved a lot in that area, but I can still improve more.

What is the most important jump you landed?

When I started landing quad toe it was a really big deal. I'd been working on it for almost a year, and the first time I landed it was at a qualifying competition a few years ago. So I'd guess I'd have to say that. Landing triple-triple combinations was a pretty big step for me, too.

What is the most important result for you?

Definitely it is the Nationals last year. It seemed to be a big deal to a lot of people, just not me. I went from not even making it to Nationals, and then making the final warm-up the following year. It really helped put me back into the picture for international assignments

What happened in the 2004, did you skate?

I was skating, but I didn't have any international assignments because I did poorly at Nationals. The 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons were kind a rough for me competitively. I almost quit skating entirely after I didn't make Nationals in 2004.

Luckily you didn't. What did you keep motivated?

Well, I took a few months off from skating and thought about what I wanted to do. I had to choose between either skating or full-time school. I still wanted to skate, I was just very down on myself because of how badly I performed the past couple years. School is always there for me, so it was a pretty easy choice.

What does figure skating means to you?

For me it just means a lot of memories, friends, and travelling I would never have been able to do if I hadn't started.

Do you think it is artistry or sport?

I think it's both, although the new judging system does put some more spotlight on the sport aspect of it.

How do you like the new system?

I like it a lot. I like that we can see exactly what needs to be changed after every competition. It also helps push the skaters to score new personal bests and is a way to help self-motivate in training.

What is your connection with your coach?

We're very close. I've been with Pam for almost 10 years now, and I've known her longer than that because she is close friends with the woman who taught me before I started taking lessons from her.

What is your hobby?

I like playing guitar, singing, and playing online video games. I also caught the poker bug and play a lot.

For money?

Yeah. I play low stakes right now, but I'm going to start playing for more money as I make more.

Isn’t it dangerous? Addictive?

I play pretty safely. I have a set amount of money I'm willing to spend on it, and I never risk more than about 10% of what I have in a single day.

If you were a pair skater who would you choose as your partner?

Well, I actually did do pairs with Kimmie Meissner one spring, but it was just for fun. We were just going to try to get through our pairs tests before the competitive season started. Unfortunately we always wanted to goof off and never wanted to work on anything but throws, lifts, and side-by-side stuff. I think I'm a little bit on the short side to try to compete in pairs.

Well, what is the biggest treasure of your life?

My family and my girlfriend. My family has always been VERY supportive of anything I've wanted to do, and my girlfriend is just amazing to me and also very supportive.

And now a short association game:

Figure skating is lots of fun
Family is important
Friends are invaluable
Money is nice to have? -smiles
Sport is hard work.
Love is great.
Peace is needed.
Belief is in self.

Thank you very much for taking time to answer our questions Shaun.
Skate well at Nationals and best of luck in your attempt to get one of the Olympic spots!

Copyright © 2004 - 2024, Absolute Skating
All rights reserved.