Not only is professional figure skating exceptionally beautiful and mesmerizing to watch, but a skater’s performance is an extraordinary feat of strength, balance, and athleticism that only a few truly understand.
This month’s Athlete Spotlight circles around Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès, two incredibly talented, hardworking, and accomplished figure skaters who have triumphed the ice internationally, winning several medals, critical acclaim, and the respect of the finest skaters around the world.
The duo from Team France currently resides in Tampa. They regularly visit the team at B3 Medical to receive physical therapy, massage, and adjustments that allow them to heal more quickly from injury as well as maximize their athletic performance.
We sat down Vanessa and Morgan to learn more about how they handle the pressure of training, competing, and being elite athletes for one of the world’s most challenging and complex sports.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face as professional figure skaters?
Morgan: It’s like everything in life. You can’t be really good at anything if you don’t work on it. Skating takes a lot of time, to practice, and to be able to concentrate. You have to turn everything off and just focus on the ice. You need to be in shape to jump, have strong legs and arms, and also learn how to handle the rotation in detail.
Vanessa: Figure skating is a very complex sport. It takes a lot of coordination and confidence, especially in pairs when you have a guy who is throwing the other person. So you have to be super fit, and also be super strong – and be able to do all that on that tiny blade. We are pushing the limits in both men’s and women’s and pairs disciplines. We’re seeing more quads and we are defying gravity.
Q: Tell me about B3 Medical and how the doctors have helped you?
Morgan: A lot of people waste time and only see the doctor when they have a big injury, or have some other kind of problem, but you know, it’s not good to do that. With Dr. Bain, it was amazing, because he knows every little part of the human body. Because of him, I was able to do the World Championships, and we got the bronze medal after that. It was amazing. We have to say thank you to him, because without him, we couldn’t do it, for sure.
Q: How have you handled injuries?
Vanessa: We’ve had many injuries, and most people don’t realize it because we just push through them which takes a lot of inner strength and motivation and a strong mentality. We got our first European medal when I had a rip in my abdominal. We got our first World medal when Morgan had a neck injury. We just push through it, which requires a lot of strength. Like true champions, we have to push through the pain in our training.
Q: What about sports nutrition?
Morgan: We are not young kids or teens anymore, and we have learned about our bodies and how they work. Dr. Bain does give advice to us on fluids and recovery in general, and I think young athletes and kids who are looking to improve at their sport should absolutely use a professional.
Vanessa: Our sport is strange because you have to be strong and you have to be thin. Especially for girls in the sport, they need to know how much protein to take for rehabilitation and recuperation and take enough calories to be able to produce the results you want to be dynamic. I’d advise people and especially girls in figure skating to see a medical professional.
Q: What’s the hardest part of being a professional figure skater?
Morgan: Skating in pairs definitely adds difficult elements to handle. I have to throw Vanessa in the air, and she must push into three revolutions, and I have to catch up with her, and it can be very hard. It’s not just about our energy, but timing. You have to create precision with everything. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and physical strength to be able to do that.
Q: How does B3 Medical prepare you for your training and sports performance?
Vanessa: If we’re out of alignment, or need a team massage, Dr. Bain helps us and makes sure that we’re prepared to be competitive and our best. When Morgan was injured, he did a lot of physical therapy so that he was able to use his muscles and not be too limited for at least during his training time. Quite honestly, what Dr. Bain and his team at B3 did for us was miraculous, because we were able to train to our full capacity for about two or three weeks before the world championships, and we were still able to attain that bronze medal. So we’re so thankful that he does everything possible and that he has a great team.
What would you tell an aspiring figure skater today?
Morgan: When you have a dream, when you’re young, or at whatever age, you have to do everything you can to get there. Don’t give up. If you believe in yourself and you work really hard – you can do anything you want.
About Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès
Vanessa and Morgan have been skating together as a pair since 2010. Before then, Morgan was a single skater who competed at the ISU World Junior Championships and placed 13th. Vanessa also competed in singles at the International level before switching to pair skating.
Vanessa and Morgan are the first French pair to win the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in 2019. Following the 2015/2016 season, Vanessa and Morgan moved to the US and switched coaches. They now train with John Zimmerman, the 2002 World Bronze medalist, and Jeremy Barrett.
Vanessa James Key Stats:
Born: September 27, 1987
Nationality: Canadian-born British French
Morgan Ciprès Key Stats:
Born: April 24, 1991
Medal record: Pairs
GOLD 2019 European Figure Skating Champion
GOLD 2019 Grand Prix Final
BRONZE 2018 World Champions
BRONZE 2017 European Champions
BRONZE Winter Universiade