Nationally Ranked Figure Skater Joseph Kang Tells His Story

Conducted by Humaam Said

Joseph Kang, a senior at Garnet Valley High School, is a nationally recognized figure skater. Starting at 6 years old, Joe has moved up from the juvenile to the senior level of figure skating. Recently, Joe competed at “2020 Skate America” in Las Vegas, Nevada against Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, a three-time U.S. national silver medalist. He has earned recognition as a U.S. juvenile bronze medalist in 2015, a U.S. intermediate champion in 2016, and a U.S. novice silver medalist in 2017. I had the opportunity to talk to Joe Kang about his career so far.

Question: Tell me about the first time you put on skates. How did it feel to be on ice? Were you afraid, excited, or a mix between the two?

Answer: When Joe was six years old at a friend’s birthday party at Ice Works, he was skating around pretty fast on the ice and got noticed by a coach who offered to give him lessons. He didn’t realize that ice skating was professional at the time, but his mom pushed for him to get lessons. Joe says that picked up ice skating quick as moves like turning, jumps, spins came natural. He felt excited to go out onto ice and have fun.

Question: Describe to me the pressure you felt at your first competition at the South Atlantic Regional Championships 2014. How did you feel before and after competing? Would you say that the competition gave you the confidence to come back the next year at the South Atlantic Regional Championships to win 1st place?

Answer: It was Exciting, but scary. He was happy how he did, but didn’t make it to sectionals by 0.1 point. From there, Joe found the motivation to come back. Joe said that it helped motivate him; He said that he was good enough to compete at that level.

Question: This October, you got to compete at 2020 Skate America, an International senior level invitational tournament. How were you feeling going against tough competition on that bright, international stage? What was the feeling like after performing well on that stage?

Answer: Joe said that he had a great experience. He never saw himself as one of the highest skaters, but realized he was already at the highest level of competition. Even though the coronavirus pandemic was happening, he was surprised and happy that he was able to compete. Joe said that although it felt like a competition with the artificial noise and applause, it felt less energetic without the crowd. 

Question: During your 6 years of competition, you’ve been able to improve significantly and become an amazing figure skater. Talk to me about the coaches you’ve had and how much they’ve helped you throughout your years of competition.

Answer: He had many amazing coaches. Coach Anne Militano cared about Joe when coaching. She’s motivated him to become better. Priscilla Hill, also Johnny Weir’s coach, was a selfless, hardworking individual that was a role model for him. The current coach, Victor Pfeifer, connects on a deep level. Deep friendship that supports Joe.

Question: Undoubtedly, you’ve put a lot of effort, time, and work into becoming a strong figure skater. What’s your training schedule like, and how easy/difficult is it to balance personal life with your passion?

Answer: At the height of the season, Joe trains around 2-2 ½ hours a day after school. He wants to do 1-2 hours off-ice training to improve stamina, cardiovascular endurance. Balancing skating with video games, personal life, and piano recitals has taught him to manage his time better. 

Question: How do you sustain your passion for figure skating over these last 11-12 years?

Answer: He loves learning how to do tricks and becoming better. The feeling Joe gets when he is on the ice helps him become better as a skater.

Question: How do you plan to pursue figure skating into college and adulthood? Where do you envision yourself 5-10 years from now?

Answer: Joe wants to keep figure skating in his life. Through college, Joe wants to be able to continue to figure skate, even in a non-competition format. In the future, he might try to get into coaching, or you may see Joe doing ice shows for entertainment. Joe loves figure skating, and believes it’s an important part of his personality.

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