Dragon Fire on Ice
Jan 29, 2016 10:23AM
● By Audrey Sellers
Nice on the ice doesn’t even begin to describe Benjamin Shou. He placed fifth at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the most prestigious competition in the country. He was selected onto the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) Scholastic Honors Team, received the USFSA’s Memorial Fund for three years, and is a six-time U.S. Figure Skating Special Achievements Awards Recipient.
Oh, and he’s also a student set to graduate this spring from Carroll Senior High School. Shou is a National AP Scholar, a member of Mu Alpha Theta (a math honor society) and a National Honor Society Senator, among other accolades and involvements. What’s it like to be a skating all-star with a bright future ahead? Here’s what Shou has to say. (Also watch for the Q&A in the upcoming edition of Dragon Pride!)
Q: You’ve been skating since you were six years old. What do you love about the sport?
A: Being on the ice is completely unlike anything else I have experienced. Skating allows me to be myself and to have that feeling of freedom and limitlessness. Skating also gives a certain satisfaction. While tough and painful, the feeling of accomplishment after finally landing a new jump or learning a new spin after months of hard work makes it all worth it.
Q: What is your training schedule like when you’re preparing for a competition?
A: I skate several hours after school as well as off-ice strength and conditioning classes. It’s pretty taxing during the fall (when all of the qualifying competitions for Nationals are held) because of school. Basically my entire afternoon is at the rink.
Q: How many times have you competed at Nationals?
A: Four. Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2011; East Lansing, Michigan, in 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, in 2014; and Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2015.
Q: Describe your emotions when you take the ice at a competition. What’s going through your mind?
A: Despite the training, I still tend to get a little bit nervous at competitions. I try to focus on the things I’ve trained for and, rather than worrying about what place I end up in, think about how to do each element exactly as I trained them. Funny thing is, the nerves actually disappear the moment I step onto the ice. Once I start a program, I try to let my muscle memory take over rather than overthink everything. The most important thing for me to remember is to go through each element one by one and not think about a spin or jump 30 seconds later.
Q: Give us an idea of a typical day for you. How do you balance sport and school?
A: I don’t usually skate before school. I’m definitely not a morning person. I start school at 8 a.m. and get out after third or seventh block every day because of my two off blocks. I then get some lunch usually on the way to the rink, where I train until 6 p.m. On some days I go to my trainer to work out. On Saturdays, I skate starting at 9:15 a.m. and coach Learn to Skate (at the Dallas Figure Skating Club) from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Balancing school and sport is really tough. I’ve taken 14 AP classes now so I have to be diligent in managing my time wisely.
Q: You were recently awarded $1,000 to bestow to any charity. Why did you select Carroll Education Foundation (CEF)?
A: I wanted to give back to a community and philosophy that I valued highly. I’ve always tried to maintain a good education along with my skating, and I have seen the good work that CEF does. They provided the electrophoresis kits for my junior year AP Biology class. I know that [the funds] will be put to good use.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your figure-skating career?
A: To never give up working towards my goals. It sometimes takes weeks, months or even years for the work that I’ve put in to actually show or represent something, whether that be qualifying for Nationals or landing a triple I’ve been working on.
Q: What advice would you share with other athletes?
A: Keep looking into the future and always strive to improve yourself. I know that I personally have looked back at my skating career and doubted myself and what I could do, but every day is an opportunity to expect perfection. I can say that this dedication is probably one of the most important, if not the most important quality that athletes should have if they want to excel.
Q: When you’re not skating, what do you enjoy doing?
A: Well, I am skating a lot of the time, but when I find some extra free time, I like to go for a run, enjoy good food, do something outdoorsy, or go hang out and watch a movie with friends.
Q: Favorite class in school?
A: Overall it’s definitely biology.
Q: What are your long-term aspirations—on and off the ice?
A: I’m looking to get into medical school. On the ice, I want to continue to skate during college and be a part of Team USA and Junior World Championship team.