Friday, May 13, 2016

Highlights of 10 Years of Writing About Figure Skating – 2006 to 2016

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, I was informed that the topic of Figure Skating would no longer be part of the network due to a mass restructuring of the website. 

Figure Skating is one of many subjects that will be discontinued, but I am hoping that the hundreds of articles I wrote in my 10 years with will still be live and available for those who want to learn about the sport I know so much about.

It was sad for me to hear the news from, since I began my journey as’s Figure Skating Expert in June of 2006 and it has been a wonderful, productive, and rewarding 10 years!  I have enjoyed writing for so very much and I’ve met so many wonderful people in our sport because of this writing adventure. 


I’ve decided to list some of the favorite articles I’ve produced so that those interested in figure skating can travel with me on what I consider to be a wonderful writing and skating adventure!

Enjoy my list which is below.

Happy Skating!
May 13, 2016


Figure Skaters -  technotr – E+ Collection / Getty Images

The figure skating world is certainly a “crazy world.”   I joke about this sometimes, but the figure skating world is somewhatlike Harry Potter’s world since figure skaters live in the “usual places” and look just like everyone else, but sort of exist in a parallel existence!  And…figure skaters are linked in some unusual and magical-like way.  (They even have their own lingo!)  Family and friends may ask, "Why are you doing so much skating?"

Harry Potter can’t fit into the "normal" world and the same goes for those involved with figure skating.  A skater's parents sometimes have two or three jobs so they can financially support a child's figure skating dream.  They put off retirement.  Family dinners around a table rarely happen. 

Adults that ice skate are not understood in the “real world” since they may skip eating lunch to skate during their lunch hour.  There is no doubt that every figure skater’s life is “very different.”

Below are 10 things that you may not know about the figure skating world that I discuss in Ten Things You May Not Know About The World of Figure Skating:

  • Almost all figure skating coaches are self-employed
  • Competitive figure skaters give up a “normal life.”
  • Figure skating competitions and skating tests are very stressful.
  • Male pair skaters and male ice dancers are sometimes “bought” by female skating partners.
  • Some figure skating parents are like “dance moms.”
  • Gossip and bullying may go on behind the scenes.
  • Cults and the figure skating world have some things in common.
  • Figure skating is very, very expensive.
  • Figure skating takes more time than other competitive sports.
  • Ice skating show skating or professional skating careers may replace or delay college. 

  • A Young Ice Skater -  Westend61 / Getty Images
    An accomplished elite figure skater and skating coach asked me to put together an article about how much a figure skater needs to skate and train that also explained how much money would be needed to pay for every level of a skater’s training. 

    It is shocking to hear about how very expensive figure skating is and how much time it takes, but this piece has been one of the most widely read articles ever!  (In the first week it was published, I believe it was read over 6,000 times!)

    The cost of ice skating for beginning ice skaters is reasonable and manageable, but parents of serious figure skaters can expect to spend at least $20,000 a year on figure skating, but may spend much more.

    Ice Skating Is Fun!  -  Jo Ann Schneider Farris Personal Skating Photo Collection
    The average length of a “figure skating life” is about 10 to 15 years, but I’ve skated much longer since I have skated for over 50 years!   My own story, My Skating Life: Fifty Plus Years of Skating, tells how I began to ice skate as a young child and how I became a double-gold medalist and competed and medaled at the national level.  I went on to become a skating coach and passed on my love of the sport to others including my own three children.   And… as’s Figure Skating Expert, I had incredible skating adventures since I met so many people that love our sport as much as I do.  I especially enjoyed meeting and interviewing Olympic figure skating champions and the stars of ice skating shows!

    Jo Ann Schneider Farris Skating With Her Daughter Rebekah 1998 – Schneider-Farris Family Personal Skating Photos

    Are you a figure skating parent?  Are you prepared to give up a “normal life” and spend hours and hours in an ice rink, do a lot of driving, and spend a lot of money?  Then, the job of being a skating parent may be right for you! 

    My own three children became accomplished figure skaters and US Figure Skating Gold Medalists.  (My two daughters earned multiple gold medals in fact!  And…my son went on to perform professionally in Disney On Ice: Frozen.)  I loved every minute of being a figure skating parent!   

    Parents from all over the world who have read my article on how to be a figure skating parent tell me much of the time that they really don’t want to know “what they are getting into,” since my article warns them of the commitment (and money) involved, but they are also glad to know that all parents who have children who skate seriously love their kids very, very much! 

    Olympic Figure Skating – Matthew Stockman / Staff / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

    I went to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver as a member of the media.  Before that Olympics, I began writing articles about Olympic figure skating and put that content in one place so it would be easy for my readers to learn everything about the sport. 

    The most popular of my Olympic figure skating content is a list of the most famous Olympic women figure skaters in ice skating history since women’s figure skating is the highlight of every Winter Olympic Games.

    Disney On Ice: Frozen – Photo Courtesy of Feld Media

    The 10 bits of figure skating trivia I list in 10 Figure Skating Trivia Facts  are just a few interesting tidbits about figure skating.  There are many more.

    Did you know that before Sonja Henie appeared in the figure skating world, female ice skaters wore black figure skates? She was the skater that introduced the idea that women and girls should wear white ice skating boots.

    And….did you know that figures are not really a part of figure skating anymore?

    Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Olympic Winter Games – Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    The Tonya-Nancy figure skating scandal could be the most bizarre story in figure skating history since that saga involved lying, cheating, the FBI, and even a get away car and a hit man!  It really did happen!  In my “Step-By-Step Tour Through the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Saga,” I take the reader through the highlights of what should be a fictional movie, but was and is very real.

    Jersey On Ice – Photo Courtesy The Learning Channel

    The ice skating reality show, Jersey On Ice, featured three coaches in New Jersey.  The show aired on The Learning Channel on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. After the pilot, the figure skating world was in uproar.

    I was in a minority since I really enjoyed the pilot television show!  Although the skaters were not high level figure skaters and the coaches seemed to not act “perfectly,” what I saw was somewhat realistic. 

    Also, what was not shown in the TV pilot was the incredible “journey” of one of the coaches featured.  Figure skating coach Deana Sroka had begun a weight loss journey.  Later, I wrote an article about Deana Sroka since she lost over 200 pounds!  In 2016 Deana triumphed even more when she competed and qualified for the US Adult National Figure Skating Championships.  Her daughter, Valerie, competed and qualified for the US National Figure Skating Championships in 2016, so that meant that both a mother and daughter qualified for the US Championships during the same year! 

    Christian Hendricks – Personal Photo
    I have been told that my writing changed a figure skater’s life!

    As a competitive figure skater, Christian Hendricks competed nationally and went on to be a successful ice show skating star. Tragedy struck his life in 1993 when Hendricks found out he was HIV Positive, and in 2009, “full-blown AIDS” took over his body.

    Hendricks had been very sick.   Before the inaugural 2015 World Figure Championship which took place in Lake Placid, New York, he’d been confined to a wheelchair.  He was told he’d never walk again.

    Then something magical happened!  Christian Hendricks was invited to compete in the 2015 World Figure Championship and somehow was able to get out of his wheelchair and back into his skates.  

    When I heard about Christian Hendricks’ determination, I interviewed him and I put together an article called World Figure Championship Gives an AIDS Sufferer Hope: Figure Skating Returns to Christian Hendricks Life. That article helped Christian get enough financial donations which made it possible for him to compete and he told me that I helped change his life!

    Figure Skating Helps Hockey Players. Hero Images / Hero Images Collection / Getty Images

    In 1998, the US Women’s Ice Hockey Team won gold at the Winter Olympics.  After their win, I decided it was time for me to learn about ice hockey and give skating in hockey skates a try. 

    I was surprised.  It was so easy for me, a figure skater, to skate in hockey skates.  I began fooling around on my hockey skates and came up with a very extensive list of drills that I have used to help hockey players learn to skate and gain power. 

    Of course, I enjoy fooling around with my son, Joel, (who is a hockey player and also a figure skater) at Sticks and Pucks sessions.   All figure skaters should try skating in hockey skates, but hockey players should know that figure skating skills help hockey.   Enjoy my list of ice hockey skating skill secrets!

    Jo Ann Schneider Farris Personal Skating Photo Collection

    I have signed every weekly Figure Skating Newsletter that I’ve written for the past 10 years with “Happy Skating!”  My goal was to share my knowledge and love of our wonderful sport with the entire world and I believe I’ve succeeded.  

    I received the following letter from one of my readers in 2015:

    “Hi Jo Ann, I'm happy you write so many articles about figure skating! No one else does. I can never find much about ice skating in the book stores. You address it all! Keep up your good work. I can no longer skate, but still enjoy learning about it through all that you write! Thank you!” – Joanne Dillon Coyle

    The above thank you letter showed me that my goal of spreading the happiness of skating through my writing and extensive knowledge of “all things skating” has certainly been met!

    I’ve made hundreds of skating friends through social media, and I invite you, the reader, to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest.  Also check out my personal skating blog or email me at

    Happy Skating!

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