Pulkinen aims to jump to the podium in Kansas City

Photo Credit U.S. Figure Skating

Camden Pulkinen might not be a name that many casual skating fans are familiar with.  He has qualified for nationals three times previously, finishing 5th and 16th at the juvenile level and 11th last season as a junior.  After a trip to the Youth Olympic Games last winter, where he finished 7th, he is evolving into a top junior men’s skater in the U.S.   He moved to Colorado Springs to train with Tom Zakrajsek and won the US Challenge Skate by over 30 points this fall.  He placed 9th in his Junior Grand Prix debut in Estonia.

Armed with a triple axel and a focus on component scores, this high school student has his sights set on the podium in Kansas City.

How did you get involved with skating?

I initially started with ice hockey. My sister, Elena, was going to all these competitions for figure skating and one day I decided to give it a try. I absolutely loved skating as fast as I could, and I still do!

How would you describe yourself as a skater?

I like to think of myself as a very powerful skater. I have always wanted to turn into a more artistic skater, along with powerful elements.

Tell me about yourself outside of skating.

Outside of skating, I am attending online high school.  I enjoy spending time with friends and watching professional soccer.  I also love eating at Noodles and Company, my favorite place!

Tell me about your programs this season.

This season, my short program is Piano Concerto 2 by Sergio Rachmaninoff.  I have never skated to a somewhat classical piece of music and this program has really helped me grow into the skater I am as of now.

My long program is Sarabande Suite (Aeternae) by Globus.  I really love this piece of music because it is so unique.  It is very powerful and there are so many different rhythms which allows me to show different emotions.

What is the most difficult element for you in your programs? 

The most difficult element for me in my programs are the flying camels.  I have been working diligently on my spins and I’m excited to show the improvement at U.S. Championships!

What is your favorite element to complete?

My favorite element to compete is the triple axel.  The triple axel is such a difficult element and not many people in the world can perform it.

Your first international competition was the Youth Olympic Winter Games last season.  What was that experience like and what did you learn from it?

My time in Norway was very enjoyable.  I met so many people, from different sports.  I am so thankful to have received the Olympic experience at such a young age and I will always remember the atmosphere.  I learned that I had a lot of work to do.  Competing against other competitors who have qualified for the JGP Final and medaled at World Junior Championships inspired me to work harder than I was.

You finished 9th at your first Junior Grand Prix in Estonia.  How did that experience differ from the Youth Olympic Games?

At the Youth Olympic Games, I felt more like a celebrity and I felt a lot more pressure.  The entire city of Lillehammer was supporting this event.  Almost everywhere I went in the town, I found posters, or advertisements of the Youth Olympics!  At my Junior Grand Prix, the skating was at a higher caliber, however, there was a lot less publicity.

What is your favorite part about traveling internationally with skating?

My favorite part about traveling internationally is representing my country.  I love it when the announcer says “representing the United States…” It gives me chills.

You have the triple axel in both of your programs.  What was the process like acquiring that jump and what do you feel it does for you as a skater?

The process of learning that jump required a lot of trust. I had to trust in what my coaches were telling me even if it didn’t feel right.  I worked on the technique every day.  One day, (at a 6:00 am practice at Glacier Falls) I landed it.  It took me two months of constant work to land the jump.  Now, it feels so easy.  Doing the triple axel is such a pivotal part of men’s figure skating.  I think it boosts my component marks and it makes me a tougher competitor.

Your sectionals score was significantly lower than the US Challenge Skate and the JGP, and a lot of that can be attributed to program components.  Is there anything you’ve changed with your programs to try and get those particular scores higher?

Yes, I have reworked some second half jumps and I have changed part of my footwork sequence. I think that the program that I am executing now is more expressive and shows a full range of motion.

As a returning junior level skater, how do you think competing at nationals will be different this year?

This year, there are not too many returning junior men from last season.  I feel that this year, I am more seasoned and I have a better understanding of the mental process of competing.

Some of the things I noticed about your skating last season was your great posture and choreography.  Can you talk a little about your off ice training and the choreographic process you use to achieve that look on the ice?

I have been taking ballet lessons twice a week.  We work for one hour a week on pure ballet, and an hour a week on the program.  I think ballet is such an important part of being a figure skater because so many of the movements are the same.  I have a lesson a day on choreography.  I work with Tom Dickson, Drew Meekins, and Ben Agosto.

Have you made any changes to your programs for nationals?

Yes, we have changed the three jump combo from 2A+1Lo+3F to a 3Lz+2T+2Lo.  We have also added a solo 3F and have changed the 3Lz+3T to a 3F+3t.

What are your goals for nationals?  For next season?

My goals at nationals are to not only put out two clean programs, but to perform.  I want to show that I’m not just a jumper.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

Last season, I feel like I was at nationals for the experience, and that I was not in contention for a medal spot.  At nationals this year, I want to show that I’m not just there to fill out the competition, but to be in contention.


  1. A great young man who will inspire not only future ice skaters but all athletes because of his mental attitude. Best of Luck to you Camden!


  1. […] Pulkinen aims to jump to the podium in Kansas City – by Amber Lewis, Ice Musings […]

  2. […] Camden Pulkinen Age: 16; 3/25/00 Club: Broadmoor SC Training Town: Colorado Springs, CO Coach: Tom Zakrajsek, Becky Calvin, Drew Meekins Choreographer: Ben Agosto, Scott Brown, Tom Dickson SP: Piano Concerto No. 1 “Vivace” and Piano Concerto No. 2 “Moderato” by Sergei Rachmaninoff FS: Sarabande Suite (Aeternae) by Globus He was 2016 Junior 11th. He debuted for Team USA at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway and on the JGP this past fall. Click here to read his Ice Musings blog interview. […]