Michael Weiss, three-time U.S. National Figure Skating Champion – Power Play

Michael Weiss skates into the spotlight this season as a man on the move. Ever since landing the first quadruple jump ever seen in competition during the 1997 season, Weiss has emerged as one of the country’s top skaters. He has won three national titles, and placed second at the State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships this year. Weiss hopes to glide through the competition at the World Championships in Germany starting March 25. In his free time, Weiss works with various charities, including the Special Olympics, where he works with special-needs individuals to learn skating and other aspects of recreation.

Parks & Recreation: How did you get involved in figure skating?

Weiss: I grew up in a gymnasium with my parents as Olympic gymnasts and coaches. When I was 9 years old, I went to the ice rink with my older sister–and I’ve been skating ever since. I progressed quicker than most skaters my age, and that encouraged me to continue to improve. After just two years of skating, I made it to the National Championships.

Parks & Recreation: How Was parks and recreation a part of making skating a career?

Weiss: “When I first started competing at age 10, the competition of the year was the Cherry Blossom Invitational at the Mount Vernon Ice Rink in Alexandria, VA. It is a public recreational center. Every spring, my sister and I would prepare vigorously for Cherry Blossom. It played a crucial role in my competitive development, getting me comfortable with performing for judges and smaller audiences.

Parks & Recreation: Do you think kids have enough places to play or experience sports like figure skating today?

Weiss: My two kids (4 and 5 years old) take swim classes at the recreation center pool and use the outdoor playgrounds several times a week in the summer time. I think there are plenty of opportunities for kids to get involved in athletics like figure skating–it is up to the parents to get those kids involved and motivated to participate.

Parks & Recreation: What lessons have you learned from your involvement with Special Olympics?

Weiss: I have learned that children with special needs are the most loving, caring and honest people on earth. They are never afraid to show their true feelings. That type of honest emotion is something the world can learn from. Their passion for sports is as great as any professional athlete. They are very determined individuals. I have learned a lot from working with the Special Olympians.

Parks & Recreation: What kind of impact does recreation have on these Special Olympic athletes?

Weiss: These sports teach discipline, determination and perseverance to Special Olympians and all participants. Getting involved in recreational activities is a great way to meet people who have the same interests, and friendships are born through this comradery.

Parks & Recreation: What are you doing to prepare for the World Championships?

Weiss: I am continuing my training a few hours a day, and skating repetitions of my competitive programs–making any last needed adjustments.

Parks & Recreation: Will fans get to see any of your famous quads at Worlds?

Weiss: Absolutely. The Quad is something that has to be done at the World Championships to earn a medal now. So, you will be seeing more than one. Maybe two or three!

COPYRIGHT 2004 National Recreation and Park Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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