Amanda Dobbs: "Nationals at the senior level was a whole new experience”

Interview by Vladislav Luchianov

Amanda started skating around age 3 after seeing Michelle Kwan perform at an ice show. Volunteers for the learn-to-swim program in Riverside County.

Enjoys knitting and baking. Uncle played collegiate baseball and professional baseball for the Texas Rangers. Mother competed at the junior national level as a competitive swimmer, and her brother swims competitively as well. Would like to meet Michael Phelps because “he pushes himself to be the best at what he does and always strives to improve himself as an athlete and a person”.

What sets her apart from others is that she looks for the good in everyone. Would like to become a skating coach and help kids learn to love skating after her skating career.

VLAD: Hi Amanda and thanks for accepting our interview offer!

AMANDA: Thanks!

- Amanda, as I know your mother and brother are swimmers. Why did you choose figure skating?

- Actually, my mom, brother and dad were/are all swimmers, and my parents met swimming in college. They have tried to get me to swim competitively many times, but they have never been successful! I do use time in the pool as part of my cross training – it is good for me and keeps them happy too! I initially chose figure skating after seeing an ice skating show when I was very little (not quite 3). At the ice show I told my mom that is what I wanted to do and have been skating ever since. I stayed with it because it is what I loved to do, just like my brother loves his swimming. I love the freedom that comes with stepping on the ice, and I love sharing my happiness on the ice with the people around me, especially my coaches and my partner.

- US Nationals this year was your first in a senior level. What do you feel?

- Nationals at the senior level was a different, whole new experience. It was so different from being at the Junior level, especially because it was an Olympic year. It was a little more stressful, everyone seemed like they were very uptight and stressed on my practice sessions in both pairs and singles, and it being the Olympic qualifying process only amplified all of the stress. For me, however, it was an amazing time.

I was so excited to be a part of the process and just tried to stay focused on my training and what I knew how to do. Because all of the pressure was on the people trying to make the Olympic team, I just tried to go out and show how I had improved as a skater and a competitor since the previous year. While all of the other levels I have competed at before have been important, I was excited to see where I fit in as a senior my first year, and I don’t think I could have hoped for anything more in either discipline.

- What was the first emotion after you finished this competition?

- When I finished my singles long, while I was still on the ice, I think the first thing I said as I went to take my bow was “not bad!” It wasn’t a perfect long program, but after I was done competing, I mainly felt happy and excited that I had gone out and skated 4 programs pretty solidly. I know how hard I train and that I do good programs in both disciplines on a regular basis, but going out and delivering them in competition over two weeks was something I haven’t done before.

I would do one program, and even though my pairs short was good, I then had to get ready for the long. And then once the long was done, I couldn’t even really stop and pause, because I had to get ready for my singles event. My placement in either discipline didn’t really sink in until I got on the plane flight to Korea after my singles long program.

- How was it to compete in one ice with the top US skaters?

- It was really pretty cool getting to finally compete with the top skaters! I have to admit, it was a little stressful because after the short in both events, there were people on my warm-ups that were still part of the top contenders for the Olympic spots.

Joe and I had Ben and Brooke on the warmup, along with Keaunna and Rockne, and I knew they wanted to make a strong case to move up in placements. In my singles, out of the six of us, there were still 3 or 4 girls that could have those 2 spots. It made the intensity and pressure on the warmups for the long program that much more. Fortunately, I spent most of the year training with John and Rena, Keaunna and Rockne and Sasha, so I was able to relax a little more than others might have.

In pairs, I have Joe with me, and we get along very well and it is easier for me to stay relaxed no matter what is going on out there. In singles, it was really nice having Sasha out there on both my warmups with me because we train together on a daily bases and we both tried to make it feel like just another day at practice.

- About your very good results at the Nationals and at the Four Continents Championships. Who is your main inspirer?

- I’m not sure I really have a main inspiration. I think at Nationals and Four Continents I was really trying to look inside myself and show people what I was capable of doing. Many people kept saying how they couldn’t believe I was doing both singles and pairs, and that I was competing two weekends in a row. 

I knew I was capable because it is what Todd and Jenni had helped me train to do, and I knew I had done the work to prepare, but to make it happen I really had to look inside myself. It is not something that had been done by many before me, so I was trying to pave new ground and show it is possible to be a good singles skater and pairs skater if you work hard and love what you do. When I found out that I made it to Four Continents, I was really excited and then had to look even deeper within myself, as it meant I now had to compete for a third week in a row!

Again, this isn’t something many other people have had to do, so it became important to me to prove to myself that I really can do two disciplines well. I really just wanted to have fun skating, enjoy what I was doing and represent my country the best that I could. I knew this event was a big event and I really wanted to do everything that I could to help Team USA deliver good results…and I delivered my two best programs of the year there, so that was really nice!

- It must be difficult to combine single skating and a pair skating. Isn’t it?

- It can be hard to do both at times, but I have great coaches that help me balance my schedule and a great partner and family that always support me. When I am at home training, I try and give everything I have to each discipline. When I train, I do my singles skating before pairs skating and I try to separate the two in my mind as best as I can. If my singles training just wasn’t going my way, I let go and try not to carry any extra emotions over to the pairs training. I think this is the key to doing both disciplines at the same time.

There isn’t a lot of room for emotional ups and downs, so I have spent a lot of time this season trying to learn to just come in and do good solid work every day. Somedays that work goes more my way than others, but in the end, I just have to come back again the next day and keep on learning. In the end, I think the pairs has made me a better singles skater and the singles helps make me a better pairs skater…so they seem to work pretty well together!

- How much time in a day do you train?

- I do about 3 hrs on the ice Monday-Friday and the skate an hour or two on Saturday. I also have some off ice training and stretching that I do in conjunction with my on-ice work. All of my training is watched closely by Todd and Jenni to help keep me healthy and productive both on and off the ice.

- Do you have your favorite skater(worldwide)?

- Sasha Cohen has always been one of my favorite skaters to watch, she is beautiful on the ice and yet so athletic in what she does, and I like that combination. That made this season so inspiring for me, as I was able to train with her every day. You hear all of the talk out there, but I was able to watch her process and I learned a lot from her as I watched her handle her comeback this season. 

I was so impressed with her willingness to come in day in and day out and rise to the challenge of competing at Nationals. I know many doubted whether she would be at Nationals or not, but I really believed she would be there and be competitive at the event, and I was proud to see what she did. So, while I have always looked up to her, this season I discovered a new appreciation for her skating and her work.

- What are your next goals for this year?

- My goals for this/ next year are just to keep improving in both pairs and singles and enjoy both of them. Last year, I thought I could balance both disciplines, and this year I have even more confidence in my ability to do so. So, I do have some technical things in both disciplines that I am hoping to achieve this year. I am also hoping that I will continue to be on the international circuit this season, so I want to help to represent the U.S. to the best of my ability this year.

- How do you prefer to spend your free time?

- Right now, I spend a lot of my free time doing homework, as I am a junior in high school. When I am not doing that though, I love to bake and cook! I love getting creative with my food, making it taste great and look great! I just got a really neat book that shows how to make creative cupcakes, so I am going to make some neat things for Valentine’s day next week!

- Amanda,Thank you very much for so interesting interview! I wish you all the best in your skating career!

- Thank you too!

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