Choate ready and confident for nationals

Harrison Choate is an 18 year old high school senior who trains in Boston, Massachusetts.  He took home 6th place from his Junior Grand Prix debut in Romania earlier this season.  He finished 8th at nationals last season at the junior level, but has made a mark for himself this season, setting the mark at Sectionals and making himself the man to beat.

Tell me about yourself outside of skating.
I’m an honors senior at Buckingham Browne and Nichols, a private day school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I just finished sending in all of my college applications after months of working on them, so I’m pretty excited about that! At school, I’m an editor of the newspaper and a peer counselor. I also rowed on my school’s crew team for the past few years, but I had to stop to focus more on skating. I have an older brother who plays hockey and baseball in college.

How would you describe your skating to someone who had never seen you skate before?
I try to keep my skating style light and enjoyable. I’m happiest when I’m on the ice, so I hope that comes across to the audience. My coaches and I chose programs with somewhat humorous themes, and I hope that I actually do them justice. 

You train alongside 2011 U.S. Bronze Medalist Ross Miner.  Did his success last season inspire you?  
Training with Ross is great because he’s my best friend and also someone I look up to. How he motivated and transformed himself last season was incredible to watch. He completely changed who he was as a skater, physically and mentally, in the course of the season. That made me realize how much I have to push myself to get where I want to go. He works so hard every single day when he goes to the rink, and I feel like I have to give everything I have to match his efforts. 

You won your first international event last spring (Gardena Spring Trophy) and finished 6th in your JGP debut in Romania.  What did you learn from those experiences? 
Gardena Spring Trophy, being my first international event, was just totally different than anything I’d ever done before. Hearing “Representing the United States of America” was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. JGP Romania was also a lot of fun. I was disappointed after only doing a triple/double in my short and ending up in seventh, so I was really proud of myself for coming back with a clean long. That showed me that I could fight back after a not-so-great short. Knowing that I can deal with the pressure of international competition definitely gives me a little confidence boost at U.S. events.

Are there any new technical elements that you’ve added for this season or anything in particular that you’ve been focusing on?
This season I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on my triple flip/triple toe combination, and I’ve added double axel/triple toe to my long. Triple/triple combinations weren’t something I could really do until around nationals last year, so this year I’ve worked really hard to make sure those elements are consistent and reliable. I’ve worked on triple axels off and on, and they’ve been pretty good. Because of injuries throughout the season, however, I haven’t been able to work on them on a regular basis.

You competed as a junior last season at nationals (finishing 8th).  What did you learn that will aid you this season?
I learned a lot about myself from nationals last year. I was really disappointed with the way I skated because what I was putting out in competition wasn’t living up at all to what I was doing in practice. After nationals, I talked with my coaches and my sports psychologist, and we talked about how I needed to retool my approach towards training and competing. This year, I’ve been taking a very relaxed, yet focused, approach, and it’s worked well. I feel like I know how to compete now, and I’m confident when I get to events. 

What are your goals for nationals?  How do you hope nationals will set you up for your short term and long term goals as a skater?
My goal for nationals is to do two clean programs. All I can control is how I skate, so that’s definitely my main focus. I’m hoping that by skating my best, I’ll put myself in a position to receive more international assignments. I love getting to represent the US and travel to interesting places I wouldn’t visit otherwise, so hopefully there’ll be more of that to come.