Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tanith Belbin: Starting A New Chapter

Life After Competitive Skating

The very first thing that I did after ending my competitive career was to sign up for University courses online. After I graduated from high school I concentrated ONLY on the last two Olympic Games and on being a fulltime athlete. I had promised myself that I would immediately dive into my studies once I stopped training every day. I’m only taking a few classes online because I still travel so much, but it’s a start and I feel really good about that.
This past fall I began doing Ice Dance commentary for NBC Sports. I’m also co hosting and doing color commentary for Skating With The Stars. It’s definitely not as easy as I thought it would be but I enjoy the challenge of doing commentary. It’s interesting to see the sport that I know so well and have dedicated my life to, from the other side of the boards. It’s an entirely different perspective. They keep telling me that I need to be more critical but I feel so much for all these people who are giving their best. I know how hard it is for them so I try to bring that element to my work.

Was It Really Time To Retire?

We absolutely felt like it was the right time and it’s so weird in a long skating career to just know that it’s time to end that year. So many times injuries push you out sooner than you’d like or before you’re emotionally ready to go. We’re so fortunate that we really felt it should be our last year. Let’s top it off with the Olympics and we really couldn’t have skated better. We really left competitive skating on our terms and that has allowed us to make the most of professional opportunities now. Ben and I are in the frame of mind where we still love skating, we don’t necessarily want to compete, but we do want to skate. In terms of the longevity of our partnership there has never been an end in sight. We still love skating together and the skating fans are also a huge reason for us to continue. We’ve received so much support from people that enjoy and appreciate what we bring to professional skating. We usually do show programs that tell a story because we enjoy the performance aspect of it. It’s a very natural segue for us and an opportunity that we can’t just let pass us by.
{Michelle Harvath}

Personal Inspiration

I grew up in Canada and we had ten-time National Champions Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz. Shae-Lynn still skates by herself in shows which for a dancer is extremely rare. She is just a phenomenal dancer but also one of the most poised and respectable people I’ve ever met. I always admired her relationship with colleagues and I always sort of wanted to mold myself after her. Not so much in the details of her skating but in the way that she carried herself. She has had such success and I think a lot of it is attributable to her likeability. Anyone that can do a performance without any tricks or jumps and still entertain a crowd is my role model!

Stars On Ice

{Paul Harvath}
Last year was the first year that we were able to be a part of rehearsals from the very beginning and we really enjoyed it. It’s great to be able to be a part of it again this year from the foundation up. It has been a lot of fun for Ben and I. Since last summer we have moved to different cities and we don’t get to practice together very much. Spending these last two weeks in rehearsals together has been amazing because we get to enjoy skating all over again. We’re playing with lifts, working out our new programs and sort of getting into a skating mindset again.
One of our solos we’ve already done in a few places. It’s to Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody. it’s one of our softer programs. Our second number is a Flamenco program and we kept it at a more competitive level. It’s 4 minutes long, fast and has a lot of the footwork and skills of competitive skating. We won’t resign ourselves to a simpler level of skating just because we’re professionals. We wanted to challenge ourselves and I think this will also be crowd-pleasing.
The good thing about Stars On Ice is that you don’t need to be familiar with skating to enjoy this show. There’s so much pure entertainment value that you don’t really need to know who is who beforehand. It’s a collaborative effort amongst the entire cast. Smucker’s Stars On Ice challenges us as skaters because of the group numbers. We get to create new dynamics, more tricks, etc. Then you add in modern music, cool lighting, no boards and it just takes skating to a new level. It’s cool to see skating just cut loose.
The tour has so many dimensions, from comedy to drama that it’s hard not to enjoy it.


I want the skating fans to know how grateful I am. Skating as a sport has obviously given me a great athletic career. It has also given me the confidence to take on new challenges and to believe that I can achieve success in new chapters of my life. I want to thank everyone for supporting Ben and I. Standing at center ice and having a standing ovation- that’s a feeling that doesn’t come along often. You carry that feeling with you forever.

A Bit of Advice

I’ve taken my responsibility as a role model very seriously. I want kids coming up in the skating or dance world to have perspective. Remember, this is just one part of what you do. It’s not who you are, don’t get to caught up. It’s not the only way to achieve success. The key to success is to stay balanced and to remember who you are off the ice too.

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