We all know that Nancy Kerrigan is a legendary figure skater, a mother of three, and someone who uses her notoriety to amplify causes for positive change. But did you know that she’s also a skilled whistler?
The Hall of Fame figure skater recently took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us about the upcoming Ice Dreams Tour presented by Purely Inspired. She also shares how she’s able to make her own well-being a priority as a working mom, the lessons she wants to pass on to the next generation of aspiring athletes, and one thing fans may be surprised to learn about her…
Q. All of us here at Team Purely Inspired are very excited for the Ice Dreams Tour and we’re thrilled to be a presenting sponsor. We’re looking forward to seeing you and your friends skate live in person! With everything that has gone on in the world these past two years, what does it mean to you to finally get back out on the ice and be able to skate in front of actual fans again?
A: “It’s always so much fun to be in front of an audience. I’m honored that I’m still asked after all these years to be in front of an audience and to perform skating because, frankly, I don’t do what I did 30 years ago. (Laughing) Having three kids and a family, I don’t put in the same amount of time that I did when I was in my twenties. But it’s still such a fun thing to be performing and skating and doing something that I love. And to be able to give back because skating has given me so many great opportunities over the years.”
Q. It’s not often that people get to see a living legend perform live in person. As someone who has pretty much accomplished everything when it comes to competitive figure skating, what is it that keeps you coming back? What advice or lessons would you like to share with the next generation of aspiring athletes?
A: “Well, I think what keeps me coming back to the sport is that I love it. I’ve always loved getting out there on the ice. At first, I loved getting out and skating fast. That has always been my favorite thing – being able to go fast and create my own wind. It makes me feel a little like a superhero. You know, for a few minutes I can be in my own little reality that isn’t real. (Smiling)
It’s a lot of fun to be able to be in a show like this where kids can sign up to be part of it and I can share my love of the sport because we actually have something in common. They go to the rink day after day – fall down, get back up. It’s the best lesson I learned in life. Things are hard, but you keep working at it. You keep trying and don’t give up.
I think you always perform at your best if you’re having fun. So, even though there are hard days, get back up. Or, sometimes with those types of days, you just have to get out of there and come back the next day. That was a really hard lesson actually for me to learn. But it’s better on the days that you’re enjoying it because I think you do perform better that way.”
Q: You’re someone who has inspired millions of people with your story and many talents. But who was your inspiration growing up?
A: “Growing up, in the sport, it would’ve been more the guys skating because I really liked watching the jumping and the strength and power. It took me a very long time to learn how to be graceful and pretty on the ice. I mean, I was more of like the tomboy – go fast, jump big. I remember I saw a triple-triple for the first time and I was like, ‘I’m going to do that!’ So, I did – within a week. I had that drive. The girls weren’t doing as many triples and things until my generation.
But I think in totality, it would’ve been my parents. My mom has always been legally blind – at least for my whole life. So, that has always been inspiring. She started skiing when I was six. She was already blind. But she was willing to try something. To go out there and do something that’s scary and challenging for anybody. Now, imagine doing that without sight. Things like that are inspiring to me. And my dad was such a great example. He was a funny person and giving – he was always helping somebody else.
So, they’ve definitely inspired me to try and give back. My uncle used to tell my parents, ‘You guys can’t afford this. What are you doing?’ So, I’m so thankful that I was able to go far in the sport so that I can use the notoriety. I didn’t go to become a nurse or a doctor, so it’s a way to be able to contribute and bring awareness to different things and help somebody else. I’m really glad that I’ve been able to do that.”
Q: Who inspires you today?
A: “They’re not here right now, so I can say that my own kids inspire me. They’re such hard workers. They’re making our job fairly easy as parents because they’ve set goals that they know they need to work hard at to accomplish. So, they push themselves. And I think, ‘Wow, I guess I did that.’ But it was so long ago that you almost forget. (Laughing) And that’s inspiring.
I get inspired walking down the street when I see something beautiful. I just try and see beauty all the time around us. Because then I come home and watch the news and it’s overwhelmingly scary and sad and horrible. So, I try to always find something inspiring throughout the day just to keep things lighter and uplifted, and to keep faith and hope in humanity.
I mean, even with all that’s going on in the world, there’s so much negative. But there’s positive there, too. There are so many people helping and doing things and coming out of retirement and helping each other. That stuff hopefully overshadows the bad.”
Q. As a working mom, how do you make your own well-being a priority?
A: “Well, it’s getting easier with the kids being older because I can pay more attention to just me now that they don’t even necessarily want me around for breakfast or lunch. They like to make their own lunch and do their own thing. And I’m like, ‘OK!’
So, it’s nice. I see they’re very independent and they’ll be okay. You know, you spend all this time with them and then they leave. I don’t know, who’s going to play games with me and stuff? (Laughing) You know, it’s a little scary to think that they’ll be gone soon. But to spend time for you is really important because I think you can then make sure you’re paying attention to others a lot easier, as well. So, I guess remembering to take things one step at a time.”
Q: What are your favorite ways to decompress after a long day?
“I got some compression pants for Christmas and that was like the best gift ever! (Smiling) Like, it’s the most relaxing thing and best thing for recovery maybe that I’ve ever had. And having athletes in the house, they like it, too. At the end of the day, that’s definitely the greatest thing that I can do.
If you don’t have access to that, I would say people who certainly work hard, they’re on their feet – lay down and put your feet straight up because they just drain. It gets your circulation moving, and your circulation moving helps everything else in your body. So, even if you don’t have access to the equipment, putting your feet up really is huge. It really can change your attitude.”
Q. What are a few of your go-to staple meals, especially when you’re short on time?
A: “Well, eggs. I love cooking eggs. But short on time? Nothing! It all takes time. (Laughing) All the foods take time. Prepping early I guess helps.
Chicken with maybe a little olive oil and some lemon and pepper on it. Grill it up quick and boil some veggies or sweet potatoes or something. You know, it’s like 20 minutes or around that. It doesn’t take that long.”
Q: When you have less than 20 minutes, are you someone who’s like, ‘I better have a protein shake!’ or something like that?
A: “Yeah, protein shakes. I often start the day with a protein shake because I don’t leave enough time in the morning to get ready. (Laughing) A protein shake is great to grab and head out to the rink and get ready for the tour! (Smiling) So, yeah. I’ve been doing that actually a lot lately. (Laughing)
Q. What’s one thing that your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
A: “I’m not very secretive or private, so they probably know a lot. I’m a very good whistler. But that may be known.”
Ice Dreams Schedule:
April 8 – Mennen Sports Arena (Morristown, NJ)
April 9 – Buffalo State Arena (Buffalo, NY)
April 10 – Capital Ice Arena (Clifton Park, NY)
May 13 – University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
May 14 – Milford Ice Arena (Milford, CT)
May 15 – New England Sports Center (Worcester, MA)
June 3 – OBM Arena (Strongsville, OH)
June 4 – Suburban Ice (Rochester, MI)
June 5 – Northbrook Sports Center (Northbrook, IL)
June 12 – Northwell Health Ice Center (East Meadow, NY)