Interview to Nam Nguyen (English version)
ENTREVISTA A A NAM NGUYEN
– It can be very obvious, but we usually begin our interviews asking about your beginnings. How did you start skating and when did you decide that you wanted to do it as something more than a hobby?
“I started skating at the age of five years old, but I only started playing hockey first like any other Canadian boys across Canada. It wasn’t until a few months in that my parents put me into figure skating classes to improve my skating skills for hockey and then, when I won my first national title at eight years old, that’s kind of when I decided to just continue with figure skating because at that point I wasn’t interested in getting hit or chasing the puck at all and I was more into jumping spinning and giving the audience a performance that they can remember. In terms of when did I see this as more than a hobby, I think it was around 10 or 11 years old. I can’t exactly remember. but I think it was when I started getting all my triple jumps that’s it it turned more into a career than a hobby”
– Since you started in the senior category in 2014, surprising the skating scene and considering your progression (with your best and worst stages). What’s left of the 16-year-old Nam in Nam now? If you could give advice to your self then, what would it be?
“It is true that I moved to the senior ranks at a very young age and I think with that it just came with a lot of excitement and so I was able to kind of put out good skates at every competition that I went to and this was all before I started going through the growth spurt and all those kinds of struggles.
You know, and I don’t think there’s any left of that 16 year old me in the current version of myself now….so you know it’s a there’s been a lot of questions about that and my answer is always been the same and it’s that I want to keep improving myself every day and just only look forward and not look back in the past what I did, You know at that age when I first moved to the senior ranks was was great for sure but at the same time I don’t want to be remembered for that I want to be remembered for what I do every day and that’s something that I’ve been striving to work on.
And you know if there’s any advice that I could give to the past version of myself I would say you have to trust yourself and trust the team around you especially going through that growth growth spurt because things can get really challenging and if you don’t trust your teammates around you then you can go nowhere and I went through that hard time I went through so many issues that could have been fixed easily if I relied on the help of my teammates, but instead I went the other way and that didn’t really work out too well for me. So yeah.
– Your sport career can be divided into several clear stages,witch match with your changes of coach and training place/base. Now you are with Robert Burke, seeing the current results was a great choice but at the time what made you choose him?
“It is true that in my career so far that I’ve bounced around with a lot of coaches and switch to a number of training places in the past, but now I found a coach who was perfect for me and that’s Robert Burke. He’s helped me through so much and he’s been there for me through thick and thin and everything in between. You know, he’s the guy that understands me more better than I can understand myself. So, you know, he really has that magic touch in which you know if I come in and you know I’m not feeling too well He can look at me in the eye and you know change everything around for me. So yeah, it’s true that since working with him we’ve put out some pretty decent results but you know I think it’s more of the day to day where we work together and that’s more that’s more of a gift to me than than the results we accomplish together, I think the journey and the processes is way more important than anything else and so far in our two years we’ve been doing very well and. Yeah he’s a great guy for sure.”
– After your fifth place in the Rostelecom Cup GP, your second assignment for the season, and your silver in the Skate Canada GP you have accumulated 20 points. It looks improbable – maybe almost impossible – that you go on to the GPF, and thus the season seems to be over for you. What are your impressions about this GP Series? What changes are you planning to implement for the nationals and the rest of the season? What are your goals?
“So at the time of answering this question I had already found out that I just missed the Grand Prix final and I am first alternate for it so you know in a way I think it’s pretty cool that I got this close to the final but also at the same time it is a little it kind of sucks a little because I’m so close to it but you know what it’s also like a great experience for sure. And I think looking back on to the Grand Prix series I think I did well especially esky Canada, the energy was great at both events and my team and I just stuck with the plan and and executed the job out there minus the one mistake I did at Russia and the free program but other than that I’m really happy with how the Grand Prix season went and now it’s time to look forward to the second half of the season and that’s starting with Nationals and I think that is the most important competition of the year. So we have a plan and set and you know and now we just have to follow up with it every day. So Yeah
– What do you think about quads at ladies category? Are you in favor of being allowed to do quads also in the short program?
“So we’re at a point now in our sport where the progression that everybody’s making is so rapid and we’re at a point now where we’re watching ladies do quads and they’re in their programs and it’s so amazing to see but also at the same time I’m a little worried for them, just because you know what if they fall you know and they hurt themselves really bad and that could be the end of their career. You know and and that’s that’s a worry I have for both the men and ladies I think you know it’s you know when you try to use thes…these elements there’s a risks to it. So obviously there’s nothing to take away from what they’re doing. but you know, I know that they’ve worked so hard and they’re incredibly talented and they’re naturally gifted in the air and they know where they are and what to do with the technique but at the same time you know I think there’s a point where, personally I think, we should be a little bit wary of how much we do with these jumps because you can only do so much in and out, You know you get that unlucky chance of of you know taking off of a mistimed takeoff for a quad and you end up hurting yourself so yes, I think it’s really cool to see that the ladies are doing quads but at the same time I’m a little little worried that you know they could be injury prone and when they do injure themselves it could be career ending for that.”
– Seeing more and more ladies try to do quads, do you think a mixed competition would be possible in the near future? Is this the future that figure skating is evolving?
“Somebody asked me this question in the past and my answer is that if there is a time that we have to compete against the ladies I think that’s when I’ll retire, just because I’m not going to lie I’m a little bit intimidated by….by what the ladies are doing right now and it’s so incredible to see but I’m glad that we have our own discipline and they have their own discipline but if we ever have to compete against each other well then I think that’s the end for me, because at that point for me is just too scary to compete.”
– Continuing with this subject, how do you see the evolution of the male category? Do you think it is counterproductive to include more and more quads and “forget” in a some way the artistic part? Don’t you think that sometimes it is more productive to make programs with less difficulty but that they can be skated cleanly?
“As far as the man goes I think the evolution is it. Yes it is fast but I think it’s also very steady. You know it’s uh it’s good to see the men being able to put out insanely difficult technical content but at the same time they’re there it’s still able to perform their programs so well and I know in the past that that has been a subject amongst many whether or not the men could actually, you know, keep up both aspects and progress in their programs. But for now it’s great because you know there’s so many men that can just keep up with both technical content and artistics which is nice to see and I think for myself I’m still striving to get there. But yeah, I mean, I don’t really know what else to say but other than the the progression for males figure skating is is pretty good so far.”
– In Rostelecom Cup we were surprised that of 10 skaters, 3 took the same song in your program. Do you think originality should be fostered in any way when choosing the music of the programs? Are you one of those who get involved in this election or let trainers and choreographers do? What music would you like to skate and you still haven’t had a chance? Which one would you never skate and can’t even listen?
“Yes. The Grand Prix in Russia, there were three guys including myself that skate into the same piece of music for the short program and I think that was pretty funny, but also at the same time it was interesting to see how we interpret to that music in our own way, I think we all did it very definitely which was great. The other two boys did it so well and it it’s funny that you know figure skating can be so unique at times but also it can be similar, I mean, we’re all doing the same the same moves the same spins but we put our own twist to it which I think makes it so unique. I think that originally originality should be fostered but, you know, there’s not really much you can do, I mean I know a lot of skaters including myself make announcements during the offseason on what we’re going to be skating to and I know some like to keep it as a surprise. But you know what as long as you’re able to interpret it in your own way then I think we’re fine. You know there’s so many pieces of music that I would love to skate to, but you know, obviously there’s only so much that you can do within the season. So they’re all on the backburner and there are some pieces of music that I would never ever skate to just because that’s the nature of it. But yeah.”
– In this respect,how is the creative process of your programs from the beginning?
“So for me the choreography process starts off with taking the music. I mean that goes with any other skater too in the world.but I think everybody has their own process in terms of creating choreography. and that also depends on who the choreographer is. Everybody has a different approach to it. For me generally if I have to if I’m making a program up for myself, for example like a show program or whatever, I usually listen to music and I let that music create the choreography itself so I don’t really think, I just do…. and more than half the time I forget what I do, which is why I have a camera on me to kind of help capture that moment. But I think it all just boils down to…. to who the choreographer is and they and I know that all of them have a very different approach to to creating a program.”
– A few weeks ago it was reported Vincent Zhou withdrew from his Grand Prix assignments to be able to focus on his studies. How do you combine your personal life with skating?
“So it’s always important to maintain some sort of balance in your life, especially when you’re skating full time really. So for me what my team and I do is we sit down at the beginning of the year and we create a schedule that is able to meet the demands of my sport but also meets the demands of school. So you know right now we’re being strategic with how many courses I take per semester. And we also have to take into consideration of the rest and recovery because that is so important and to be able to kind of function day to day that’s kind of what you really need right is rest and recovery. So I think we did it we did. We’ve done a pretty good job at creating a balance. But you know as far as the days go by ,and you know there’s a lot of changes happening, so we have we’re very flexible with our schedule but at the end of day we have to make sure that everything is going well and that I feel good and I’m not too too tired by the end of the week.”
– Every time that we see Team Canada together, the atmosphere among you is companionship and good vibes, not only inside but outside the ice, something that is not frequent in all team. Do you meet outside the competitions? Is it difficult to consider friend and partner to someone who is a potential rival on the ice rink?
“I think what’s special about Team Canada is that we’re all friends with each other, and you know, it doesn’t matter if we’re competitors or not, we always have each other’s backs.The support we have for each other is unreal and we know we rarely get to see each other outside of competition so every time we have the same events it’s always a treat and we try to hang out with each other as much as possible. There’s no negative feelings towards any of each other and I think that it’s what makes our team so unique in the world…it is that we we have a love for each other and we want each other to succeed. For example Keegan and I are best friends and we know what’s on the line for for our career this season but that doesn’t really stop us from from being good friends with each other. You know, I can always call him after a bad day and and you know he can do that too and we always talk to each other and and make sure that we’re there for each other because at the end of the day that’s what’s most important is the friendships that you make in this journey.”
– If we remember well, this year (2019) you participated for first time in the Stars On Ice tour. What did it mean to you that you were considered and that you learned from that experience? (since shows are not the same as the competition).
“So earlier this year I had the incredible opportunity to perform on the Stars on Ice tour and…. it was just so amazing, for me it was a dream come true. I got to perform alongside so many icons in Canadian figure skating. And I think that itself was just so incredible. Even to this day. I can’t stop thinking about it. It was just to be able to tour from the East Coast all the way to the west coast, It was just a dream for me and I don’t really know what to say about Stars on Ice because I I get speechless every time I think about it so it definitely was a really it was…. it was a great experience for sure.”
Translator’s note: Nam has granted us the interview through audios, we wanted to keep the transcript true to the original against grammar correction, so there are several questions with repetitions and phrases that are repeated.