World OutGames: Figure Skating

Photo Credit: Andrew Delaware
We caught Dutch skater Joel Mangs, 33, in a much more relaxed state after all the performances were complete to ask him a few questions about his experience skating at the OutGames.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your skating career, Joel.
I have lived in Amsterdam for three years, but I was born in Australia and grew up in Sweden. I was a professional figure skater for many years when I was younger, retired from that about 5 or 6 years ago, and started training for this event about two months ago. I hadn't been on ice for well over a year.

What did you do to prepare yourself for this in such a short amount of time?
It was difficult actually, I was going to start much earlier, but I injured my left ankle in December, which is my landing foot, so it affected my confidence level with a lot of my jumps. My foot wouldn't even fit into a pair of skates until two months ago. They don't have an ice rink in Amsterdam in the summer, it is closed, so I traveled to New York to live and train for the last two months at the Chelsea Piers. So it's been an expensive preparation for me! And it's been a lot of early morning sessions, at 5:30 in the morning, to get on the ice when there wouldn't be so many people on the ice. That helped me really get some good ice time, especially for practicing programs when there aren't small kids on the ice. And then again in the afternoon, and the gym and yoga in the evening.

I haven't been skating for a long time, but I have been working out in some form all my life, ever since I started skating when I was 14. I think the key with the training is doing as many different things as possible. So there's my ice training, ballet practice, cardio training, weight training, plyometrics, yoga, pilates. The most important thing when it comes to training is the variety. Oh, and I live by stretching. That's practically my religion.

Did you find it came back to you quickly and easily, even after that length of time?
Oh absolutely. Everything is still there, and I am strong. I had kept up my gym training, my weight training. I learned from a number of injuries how to take care of my muscles and joints.

What was the most exciting moment for you on the ice?
The moment it was over! I was like, thank goodness! Both yesterday and today are the only times I skated the entire program from beginning to end, which is absolutely ridiculous, as any figure skater will tell you. But I started working on these programs one to two weeks ago, because I only had two months of skating.

My physical conditioning was not there, and I kinda died the last part of the program. I just didn't have the stamina any more. I'm a good 20-30 pounds heavier than I was as a competitive skater when I was 18-20 years old, and that translates into a big disadvantage as a figure skater. You're always fighting your own body weight. I notice the difference. I am older too. I still have the drive, and wanted to do what I did then, but my body just kind of screams out, "no," then I try to push through the barrier.