Episode #84: Courtney Jones

Figure Skating podcast. Courtney Jones is a World, European, and British ice dancing champion, and the only skater to win World Championships in Ice Dance with different partners. He’s been an ice skating judge, an Olympic Team Leader, and creator of two  compulsory dances. And he designed the iconic Bolero costumes worn by Torvill and Dean for the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. 1 hour, 19 minutes.


A full transcription is below:

(CJ: Courtney Jones, AM: Allison Manley)

AM: Hello again, and welcome to the Manleywoman Skatecast. I am your host Allison Manley, and this is episode 84 with Courtney Jones. Never heard of Courtney Jones? Well, you’ve been missing out! This former British ice dancer won the World and European championships multiple times with two different partners … the only ice dancer to have won the World Championships with two different partners.

He won the world European and British championships with June Markham in 1957 and 1958. Then won the World Championships in 1959 and 1960 with Doreen Denny, as well as the European Championships and British championships in 1959, 1960 and 1961

In 1963, he became one of the inventors of the Starlight Waltz and the silver Samba compulsory dances. By 1975, he had judged at his first World Championships, and by 1980 he was the head ice dance referee at the Olympics in Lake Placid. And as a clothes designer, Mr. Jones had designed the British Olympic team’s uniforms for both 1976 and 1984. But most notably he designed and created Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s iconic Bolero costumes.

He is a member of the International Skating Union Council and is the former president of the National Ice Skating Association. And during those tenures organized many, many skating events. He was deservedly inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1986. And just this month released his new autobiography called “Around the Ice in 80 years: An Irreverent Memoir by an Accidental Champion,” which is both fascinating and hilarious.

As I said, it was literally released just this month, December 2021 and is available directly from York Publishing Services at ypdbooks.com. Go to that web address and order your copy now. Mr. Jones is charming. He’s funny and you are going to love this interview.

If you like what I’m doing, please spread the word about the podcast. Retweet share via social media, tell your friends, all the things.

This interview took place on October 10th, 2021.


AM: Thankfully we should have no interruptions. It’s very quiet here at 8:00 on Chicago time on a Sunday morning and my cats are asleep. So hopefully they won’t . . .

CJ: I’m a cat lover too. In 20 years, we had two Siamese. So I’m a cat addict. We’re all cat addicts.

AM: Wonderful!

CJ: We have common ground!

AM: We have common ground: skating and cats. It’s really … that’s all anyone needs.

CJ: I’m in your hands literally.

AM: Wonderful. Well, let’s get started then.

CJ: Can I ask you something just before we start?

AM: Of course.

CJ: I looked at your list of interviewees. I realize I’m so old. I know every one of them!

AM: Well, I mean, that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. Mr. Courtney Jones. It’s really a pleasure for me to have you on my show, especially after I’m doing such a long hiatus. I’m thrilled to be able to interview you. My first question for you is what is your most embarrassing skating related moment on-ice or off-ice?

CJ: Oh dear, so many. I was trying to think of one. I think possibly it was in America. We had just come from Colorado Springs, winning the championship the first time and we were invited to stop off in New York, a couple of days and they looked after us. And we skated on the Rockefeller Skating Center, which was a great experience. I’ve never seen anything like it. And we’ve also invited to skate in the Skyrink. That’s the one … I think that’s what it’s called. It’s very sort of posh rink in a skyscraper, which was fine. When this was to be our first exhibition, proper exhibition as World Champions. So we get ourselves ready. June steps on the ice in front of me and falls flat on her face. She had forgotten to take her skate guards off.

So being the kind of place it was, one of the attendants stepped on the ice, took off her skate guards, and left her where she was lying. So I had ignominiously pick her up, dust her down, and we got on with the job in hand. I think I was like the earliest embarrassing moment. I had many many more after that.

AM: Well, alright. I mean, I’d love to hear all of them if you want! If you think that’s the best one will take it.

CJ: Well, it’s the one that came to mind because we were so . . . we were impressed with everything. I’m a young man, we’d never been to America. It was only {garbled} years after the war. We never seen so much food and drink and, you know, it was completely new to us. And we were taken up the Statue of Liberty … I’ didn’t even know you could go inside it.

That was fantastic, you know? We were taken to see the Rockettes and a film there, so … it was fantastic weekend and will always stay in my memory. Because although I went backwards and forwards to America many, many times after that, that was my first impression and I fell in love with very much to be sure.

AM: Beautiful. Well, I’ve seen the Rockettes but believe it or not I’ve never been up the Statue of Liberty. So you’ve got me there.

CJ: Well, when you can, you can go off the hand that holds the flame. But I was really I was too frightened to do that. Just went to the diadem in the front, which was very interesting.

AM: Well, you started your skating career in 1937 at the age of 4 at the Westover ice rink, and I understand that your very first, and best, partner was your teddy bear.

CJ: Oh yes! And I’ve still got it! I still have the teddy bear! So yes. He didn’t have any problems with me. He never answered me back, and he was fine. So that was my first partner. I had a number after that and they all answered me back. But anyway, that’s a different thing.

AM: And it must have been wild. Of course, you were a young child during the war and trying to find ice time during the war, could not have been easy for you.

CJ: Well I didn’t skate during war time. We just stopped as far as that was concerned as the war started. I think I’m right in saying nearly every ice rink in the Country closed down because the ice is made with some kind of material that has acid in it. And if they, if it had had a direct hit, it would have suffocated everybody in the vicinity.

That’s why the ice rinks closed down very early. No, I didn’t skate. I just finished then, and never really thought about it until after the war had finished and the Westover Ice Rink opened again.

AM: So, how old would you say you were when you were able to start skating again seriously?

CJ: I was never serious but I would say about eight or nine …Ten? Something like that yes. About 10. I just skated for pleasure in those days. I wasn’t serious at all.

AM: Well, you are known of course, for your ice dancing. And you had several ice dance partners over the years — teddy bear being the first one — and two pairs partners. And you even won a Pairs title in 1954. Were you ever a single skater at any time? Or were you always drawn …

CJ: I wasn’t. I was a failed figure skater. Very much failed because I think in those days you used to do patches and I was the only skater that fell over doing the figures! That was quite an achievement. So I don’t think I was very made for singles skating. I needed somebody to hold me up. That’s what it was! So I changed to pairs and dance. It was easy. I had somebody to blame!

AM: So, why ultimately did you choose ice dance over pairs?

CJ: Well, because I love music, it was something I enjoyed doing. And I was … in those days I was sort of beginning to take the proficiency tests along the line. You started off with bronze. Then I suppose it was I enjoyed dancing and because I had another partner who is deceased now — Faith Patterson, where she’s lived in Boston now, or she did — we decided that we would do with the odd competition. And so we did the competitions and didn’t do very well. But we enjoyed it, it was fun, just fun.

And they’d find me … I think it was just before I was going to go into my national service … we decided we go to the British Championships in Nottingham.

Well, we came in a resounding last. Resounding last. So it shows that you should never give up hope. Every time with different partners. I never asked to move up the ladder. But it shows you never put off the first time you do something.

AM: Right. Absolutely. Tenacity. So I loved reading in the book that’s coming out this fall that you tended to spread your fingers on your dance partner’s back when you were in a proper dance hold. So you actually sewed the fingers of your gloves together so you wouldn’t do that!

CJ: That’s right! Because in those days they were rather formal and it was an occasion when you took a test like that. Then the judges shook hands with you if you passed, or said, “I’m terribly sorry” if you failed. And I was trying to get my glove off like this because my fingers were all sewn together. After which I had a holly leaf on a bit of string around my neck to keep my head up.

That was my other trick. I had a holly leaf, a barbed holly leaf on a piece of string around my neck so I couldn’t put my head down! I had to hold my head up …

AM: Or else you would scratch your chest?

CJ: Yes. That was my other trick by the way. The trick with sewing up the gloves didn’t work so well when I tried to get them off again, so they had to have me shaking hands with my gloves on. They probably thought it was just odd. That was the end of it.

AM: And you also had some ballroom dancing experience, as well.

CJ: Yes, just a little later on when I was in my mid to late teens. By chance, I sort of came in. I’d always run dances at school and organize things like that. So, That was at about 16 or 17. I hadn’t … I was also in Boy Scouts and I had some youngsters of a colleague of mine that I used to take swimming every week. And in the swimming pool there was a door on the balcony that said “ballroom dance.” And I’d often looked at it and thought to myself, ‘I wonder if they have lessons on, i don’t know at all.’ So anyway, one day I just … we were over there, I plucked up the courage and I walk through the door. And I walked into a new life because ballroom dancing became a part of my life: ballroom dancing and skating. I had picked a good one because they were the British Champions who run actually ballroom dance. And so I learned from the very best and I loved it. And later on, I did a lot of attending ballroom dances and scenes all over the country … not as a competitor, but just to watch. But I became friends with a lot of the professionals all over the world because I’d been taught by the best. Therefore, I met the best.

And so later on in my life, I was able to return the compliment and I’d bring a couple of ballroom dancers to Japan to demonstrate at my seminars. I was able to bring them with me to demonstrate that. I had a close connection with the ballroom world and we also had lessons ourselves and … so it’s always been a delight as far as I was concerned. And so I enjoy ballroom dancing.

AM: I love that. So tell me about the great Gladys Hogg. And you didn’t start taking lessons from her until you were about 22.

CJ: Now, purely by [chance] I have been the luckiest person in the world. I know I have been. And everything I’ve ever done has happened by chance. Not by design. Never designed and it happened. And just before I was going into my national service, I was training at Richmond

with another coach to take the Gold dance tests. And at that time, the gold dance tests lasted about an hour because you had to skate eight dances, you had to do a free dance, and then you might repeat some of the dances. So it’s quite an onerous session and I was training to do it with another partner.

And then, my trainer in Richmond became ill, and he couldn’t continue to teach me. And he said, “but don’t worry. I’ve arranged for you to go to Queens Ice Club to be taught by the best: Gladys Hogg.” Well I’d heard of Gladys Hogg but I didn’t really know her at all. So the trouble was that she was at that time probably the most expensive coach in the country, and I didn’t really have the money to train in Queens or pay for the tuition.

However, my parents were marvelous, they used their savings so that I could go there. And when I went there, she actually partnered her couples for a gold test … you skated with them. So that was fine. And practice with her. We did the eight dances and the free dance. Then she came to me one day and time is getting short, she said, “I’m terribly. sorry, I’ve not been well, and my doctor told me I can’t partner any skaters anymore. It’s too onerous. So I don’t know what I’m going to do about your gold test that is going to come in about six weeks or seven weeks time.” And then I was going to the Air Force.

“But,” she said”I had this idea. I have young skater from Durham and she’s training for her gold. And why don’t I put you together and then you can both partner each other for the gold test.” So that is how I met June Markham. My first partner. June was by that time a very established figure skater and dancer. And so I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to have such a good partner. So we got together and it worked very well.

In fact, I spoke to her this morning. So our tie has lasted.

She went on after her skating career and had six children, twelve grandchildren and she’s just, I think, had her 13th great-grandchild. She was obviously good at everything. So, anyway …

AM: Except taking her guards off!

CJ: So we did it that way. So just a week before I was due — no, two weeks before I was due

to go into the air force — Gladys Hogg said to both of us … she said, “you know the gold test, there are only 2 to 3 [unintelligible] it’s quite an ordeal. You’ll have an audience and you’ve never been accustomed to skating with an audience before. I’ve entered you for competition at Richmond just so you have the feel of skating with an audience and other competitors and everything else.”

“So you won’t win, not a chance. Forget it. But it will be experience for you.” So a couple of days later, we went off to Richmond, and as we were going into the Richmond ice rink, June said to me (she was that kind of girl), “we’re going to win” and I said, “oh, don’t be so stupid. We never even met the other competitors. You don’t even know the people we’re skating against! How can we possibly win?” She said, “We are going to win.” So we did, to my amazement. She was fantastic. Not controlling me, but she had such pizazz. I just went along for the ride, you know, she was really very good.

AM: She pretty much manifested your win, it sounds like.

CJ: Yes, because I was very shy, very shy, was not used to skating in front of an audience, not used to living in London or anything like that. So … I came from Dorset.

It’s quite different. I got over it. But anyway, …. Gladys Hogg said, “I know you’ll go into the air force in 10 days time, but I’ve entered you into the British Championships just for experience before your test.” I said, “I’ve heard that one before but all right. So we’ll do it.” She said, “well come anyway. Forget that, you’ll just do. It will give you experience and then you can go into the air force and go your separate ways. Do the test, which was set up on time (I think the day before I was going to the air force) and you can go your separate ways.”

We said fine. So June and I went to Nottingham. And to our amazement ended up on the podium in second place! Which was quite a surprise for both of us, but of course, I was just about to go into the Air Force and do my national service and the team was due to fly to the European Championships I think in about 14 days time after I had to enter the air force.

So then the hierarchy of the skating association got to town and managed to get me … I was put in a camp near Manchester rather than the south of England because there was an ice rink there. Every Sunday, I was allowed to keep my skates in my locker, but I couldn’t have private clothes at all mostly because I didn’t have my uniform. So every Sunday, I was allowed out to go the Manchester ice rink and skate with June who moved up there at that time so you can be pressed the practice that way. But at that time they hadn’t even told us we could go as it was not a recognized sport.

So anyway, we did go in the end. But my mother had to come up to London with my civilian clothes, meet me, take my uniform, I’d change into civilian clothes, met June, we flew … no, I didn’t do not go along with the team, June had gone on with the team. I was just going on my own. I’d never flown on a plane before and never been abroad before.

So, the European championships. And once again, to our amazement became second! And so suddenly, we were, well, catapulted into International … something that had never ever had occurred to me, never never, never! And so the same thing was repeated back then back again: my mother landing herself to London, gave me my uniform, I got on the train, went back to Manchester and did another three weeks training. But because I’ve missed the training, They put me back three weeks out of 16 weeks training, and they put me back again.

So then finally just the day before I was due to leave, the commandant said, yes, you can go. So once again, the whole thing was repeated, though this time it was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which was snowy. Very very, very cold. And I never even seen snow and have never been abroad

to see snow. So something else anymore. So repeating the same process and once again, we skated out of doors. Don’t forget: it was 28 degrees below freezing.

The doctors were treating people for frostbite as we came off. So it was not the best place to skate, but anyway …once again, we managed to get the second place and I went back to the camp and they put me back another three weeks. So I was the most trained sort of air force guy in the world! And done so many weeks training, that unless I had to do my skating in between my work for the … because when they allocated the jobs at the end of the training, I thought

I was going to be a [unintelligible]. But I wasn’t a [unintelligible]. So I had quite a nice job. So that’s how I came into skating.

AM: I mean that’s really incredible that you were able to only skate on Sundays?

CJ: Oh, yes. Only one day a week. And that was in the public session! I don’t mean private.

AM: So you were trying to maneuver around hundreds ….

CJ: Oh yes, Around everybody! You couldn’t get your music on or anything like that. So it wasn’t until I actually got to the Europeans, that I heard the music again and actually skated to it. I mean it wasn’t the easiest passage into International skating. As I say, I was born … I was an accidental champion. But I stayed the course.

AM: But a champion nonetheless! And the following year … so that was 1956 if I have my timeline, correct? Is that right?

CJ: You probably are because I can’t remember, so you’re probably right. Yes, it was … it was 56. You’re quite right!

AM: Okay, so by 1957 though, when which was only your second year or really only 18 months into your International prowess, if you will, you wrote an editorial for Skating Magazine with opinions! You were pushing for longer length dance programs …

CJ: I so full of opinions. I’m so opinionated. I’ve got an opinion on everything! I started early.

AM: You started early! Yeah. And I mean I kind of love that, that you already back then, because of your experience with ballroom dancing and your love of music, you already knew that there could be improvements to be made at the time.

CJ: Oh yes. Yes.

AM: Well, so following the 1958 World Championships, you did have a couple seasons with June and then she announced her retirement from competition and went on to have a million grandchildren, we all know. And you were initially discouraged by that, but Miss Hogg wasted no time in finding another partner for you. So then you were paired with Doreen Denny and how was that partnership?

CJ: I lived in a bedsitter room across the road from the rink had a very small salary, and it was very difficult to continue to skate because there was no help from anybody. My parents had to use their savings to finance me. And after June decided to go to Canada to teach, they left me … well, now I had nothing to do except go to work and I really was disheartened I suppose, because it was not what I had anticipated. And Miss Hogg — who, by the way, you might be interested to know started life as an international fencer, which is unusual, but that was probably why she was so good on her feet. She was a fantastic teacher — so I retreated to my bedsitter and just started to skate for fun in the evening when I felt like it.

She suddenly came over and said, “you must find another partner” and I said, “Over my dead body. I am done. I’m finished. I got the T-shirt, I don’t want to know. Thank you and good night.” But she was a wily old bird. And she said, “well, I’ve got this one girl who I think would suit you.” I said, “fine, you keep her. I don’t want her.” So she said, “I tell you what: if you come at midnight, one night to a totally clear rink with nobody watching you and I get her to come and skate with you, will you at least just try with her?” She was clever, because the moment you took the ice with Doreen, I realized, she was a wonderful skater.

And I said to her, then I said to Miss Hogg, “Do you understand. It’s only seven months before! I have got a title. Doreen has never learned to compulsory dance in her life! She knows nothing about it: she’s never done a free dance. She’s never done this.” So she said “Look: if you’re up for it, I’m up for it”. Doreen, you know, she was very shy in those days and suddenly, she said, “I’ll do it if you do it.” So I said, “all right, we’ll try.” So we started to skate late at night. I couldn’t skate in a public session.

So I would give it … sometimes they would give us ice at night and I’d help to clean the ice after it because that was the agreement. So, we’d skate probably until about 1:00 in the morning and then I’d have to clean the ice, then I’d get a few hours sleep and be up and get back to the factory where I worked about 8:00 in the morning. So it was not easy.

But Doreen did it! And I can never imagine how she learned to do 16 compulsory dances and do a free dance in the few short months, which only goes to show what a wonderful skater she was! Because it was a completely different discipline. We had our ups and downs. We both had tantrums. And as you would do. And you know, it was a difficult period but that part aside, somehow or other, we managed it and we went back and … she hadn’t even met the other competitors in this Championship. She’d never met them!

She’d never competed in anything. And of course, it was all … ‘he’s never going to win, not with a new partner.’ Because in those days they drew the dances. It wasn’t published beforehand. So you had all these dances and they just drew … that was what was different. But we did it and we started the cycle all over again.

So that’s how that started. I was an accidental champion but kept going.

AM: Well, it’s remarkable that she was able to learn so quickly.

CJ: Incredible! Yes. You’re a skater yourself. So you realize what a challenge that was.

AM: Absolutely.

CJ: To Championship standing!

AM: Right! So as you mentioned briefly, you were working in a factory and your schedule was incredible: 18-hour days, not a lot of sleep. As young people can do! But once we hit a certain age, it’s harder to do that. But you worked in a factory as a dress designer.

CJ: I’d been to college for four years to learn dress design and fashion design, fashion drawing, and all things connected with it. So that was my profession as far as I was concerned. Skating was still a hobby to me that I did and I enjoyed it and I love it. But my intention was to be a great fashion designer and that’s where things went slightly awry because having had four years

of college and a couple of degrees to my name, I then gave myself to the fashion trade. And sadly, they didn’t seem to want me. I don’t know why. In the end, the only job I could get was to work in a factory as a lining cutter. And I struck lucky once again because the head tailor there took pity on me, and he was very fine. He taught me tailoring.

And I learned to be a tailor, which is very important in my trade because the dressmaker doesn’t make suits, but the tailor makes dresses! So, I learned the basis of my trade from the tailor and that stood me in great stead for the future. So that was why … I managed to get some good odd jobs in various places, but never the great design job I always wanted.

AM: No, but, but when I was reading your book, it was fascinating to read that you understood how to compensate in the design for your physical deficits. Right? Like you said, you added shoulder pads to make you look broader because you were so skinny.

CJ: It was me! When I skated I took that jacket off and hung it on the wall, it wasn’t me! I had very puny shoulders, and my bum stuck out. So I got my jackets and suits made to cover that up!

That was the interesting part of it. The judges were very old-fashioned in those days. Very, very, very conservative. They were not easy to convince on anything really. But I did notice that the first championship that I ever went to, that the men’s trousers were not caught down and they just flapped about all over the place. And as I watched ballet, I realized ballet didn’t have that. They had elastic under the feet, and it kept the legs in a good, straight line of trousers. So I thought to myself, “I could do that. Why don’t I do that?”

So, the next championship I did it. Ooof my God! As I say, they thought all had gone to hell in a handcart! The fact that I’d actually caught my trousers down! Where was skating going? It was written about: I kept my trousers down like that! What do you think? The next year, 50% at least of the men followed the same thing! Their trousers were caught down! Because it was just so wrong to me. So that was a design thing far as I was concerned. So that was my first effort I suppose of trying to change the outline of skaters.

I felt there was such an opportunity to revolutionize skating clothing and skating dresses because they were all very much the same. So that was my first attempt at trying to revolutionize something.

AM: Well, I love it because we’ll get to that later, how you revolutionize some other skating costumes, of course. But you also caused some controversy in some other areas. I understand that you and Miss Denny, for example, at the 1959 World Championships, while doing your 14 step started on the weak beat as opposed to the strong beat. And then a year later at the 1960 World Championships you caused another commotion when you left your skates in the hotel, which is a crazy story!

CJ: Well the first one taught me a lesson, which I never forgot. And that was never leave the ice until the music stopped. And that was something we’d instilled in each other because reading it the other way … never leave the stage until the fat lady sings. And I figured the judges were the equivalent to the fat lady, as far as I was concerned! I’m going to leave that ice until we were finished. So that taught me one of life’s lessons: when you’re competing, never leave the ice until the music stopped.

Personally, Vancouver is just a horrible memory as far as again, as far as I’m concerned because by then we were established. We were World Champions and we were going to a country where

the second place couple were Canadian. And there was a lot of discussion in the day and in the Canadian press that they were going to take the title from us. They were going to become the Champions.

And so there was a lot of controversy going on about it anyway, but the trouble wasn’t … it’s that it was a long flight in those days. It really was a very long flight and there was no money around, so you had to go the cheapest way, you were almost clinging to the wings, you know, if it’s cheap seats that was it. And it wasn’t like the Association paid for first class! No, they just bought the cheapest seats they could, and that was it. You took your packed lunch!

When we left London, that particular day, Doreen was not well, she was not well at all. And as the flight progressed, I think it was nearly five hours in all, she got worse. So by the time we got to the hotel, she really was poorly and I didn’t know what to do about it. But the girls in the team were marvelous. They took her off to her room and they looked after her and they got her food and everything else.

But of course, the Press were at my door saying, “where’s your partner?” And I said, “she’s terribly tired after the journey. I’m sorry. She’s resting but she’ll be there tomorrow. We’ll meet you all tomorrow.” So the next day, there was a practice. So I went to the practice on my own. So once again the Press said, “where’s your partner? Where’s your partner?” So I said, “she’s really a little tired after the long journey. So we’re not going to practice until alter in the week.”

And so they seemed to buy that. And I was getting more worried every day. I didn’t know what to do because there was no team doctor in those days. There was nobody at all! But the girls on the team were marvelous. They were looking after her, giving her medicine. And trying to get her better. Finally we got the hotel doctor to come and see her. Because the next day, she had to appear to practice to be honest with you, otherwise we were shot. So the team doctor gave her … I’ll just use the word “something” … to perk her up. We won’t go there but don’t ask. I don’t know. Anyway, she got well enough to get dressed and put her skates on. And she came on to the practice and somehow we managed to get through that practice. God knows how. And the next day we actually won the dances after which she went straight back to bed. And that was it.

And so the free dance was the same. You know, is she going to come to the practices? Can she only do this that or the other? And she got up and she did the practices enough to satisfy the general public. I knew she wasn’t well, but we smiled and waved and everything you do when you’re pushed and went about our job. But on the night of the free dance, which was all important obviously, we hit on a plan. The doctor came around and looked at her, checked her, and the girls decided they would dress her in the hotel. Put her dress on, and they would make her up and do her hair.

So she wouldn’t have anything to do until she got to the rink for the warmup. She was dressed. And so we got to the rink a couple of hours early I suppose. And I gave her to the girls to
look after, and I went into the men’s dressing room. I thought, well, maybe I better just get my skates out. And I put my hands down and realized I hadn’t got my skates! I was so busy getting her ready, I forgot my own skates!

So, I went to the team leader and said, what are we going to do? I don’t know what to do. So he said, “well leave it with me.” He was a judge and [unintelligible] on the judging panel. So he went to the Canadian referee which was marvelous — [NAME OF REFEREE] — and explained the situation and I’ll never ever forget her kindness because the Canadians would have won automatically. But they hatched a plan because in those days the judged walked out onto the ice.

So whilst I was trying to get back to the hotel in a rush hour to collect my boots and skates, all the judging panel [unintelligible] because the British judge got up, got up like this; very very slowly. Everybody walked out very slowly and the TV people were tearing their hair because the dancing was the preamble to the men’s free skating, where, of course, Donald Jackson was probably going to win. So everything was timed to that moment! And they were tearing their hair out because they were so behind time, it wasn’t right. [Referee?] went and shut herself in the loo at one state. And they had to bang on the door to get her out! I mean, she was marvelous.

Me? I was back in the hotel up to the top of the lift, got my boots and skates and went back down again. The taxi was waiting and the manager of the rink was marvelous; he had arranged for every exit or entrance to the rink to be left open. So wherever I came, I could walk straight on! But of course, I was already dressed! I had put my boots and skates on the back of a taxi at about 90 miles an hour.

The taxi hit somebody else. So the police had to come. So the taxi driver explained to the police what had happened, and they escorted me through to the rink which was marvelous, and arranged all the paperwork later. So, as I entered the rink from the opposite side, the warm-up was just finishing, just finishing and we were due to skate. It was towards the end. And Doreen was white. I mean, she was white with fear because she’d gone on for the warm-ups all alone!

She knew what was happening. She thought I would never going to come. So I was dressed and ready, very crumpled. So I came through the door opposite her and so I ran all the way around the perimeter of the barrier. Got to her just as our names were called. So I said to her, “Shut up and skate. I’ll tell you later!”

So we skated, apparently satisfactorily enough to cover all our faults. But in the final pose that we had, she fainted in my arms. And I thought, “I better make something of this.” So I extended my arms and let her make it look as if it was her final move in the free dance. And I said, “just get yourself off the ice!”

So as we left the ice, there was a camera just above the exit and I fainted! I went straight underneath the camera, but by then we’d done it! It was a night to remember. As I said, that’s the long version, I’m afraid, but that’s what happened. And I’ll never not think how that referee was kind enough to extend that Championship, to be allowed [the chance to] to win it. She was wonderful to do that. So Sportsman-like.

AM: That is a lot of serendipity to happen in one afternoon just to make sure that the taxi stayed, and the exits were open and everything!

CJ: I was sitting in the back of the taxi thinking I’d lost! I didn’t know they were doing all that and I was looking at my watch and I thought, “I should have been on the warm-up. I should have done this. I’ve lost it. I’ve come across the world and through my own stupidity — my own stupidity — I’ve lost this championship.” So to me, it was lost as I ran through the door.

I thought I’ll never skate but they managed it. It was quite a night to remember. And then Doreen stayed on to recover, and I came out the next morning covered from head to foot in red spots. My nerves had finally gotten the better of me!

AM: Well. That’s pretty amazing. And I know I know that of course referees and all that … the rules would not allow that to happen anymore, you know.

CJ: No. No. You’d never allow that to happen anymore. But there we are! Thank God!

AM: Well, moving ahead to the 1961 World Championships, those were supposed to be your farewell performance. But of course they were cancelled due to the crash of the Sabena flight that killed the entire American team. So yeah, very tragic. And I’m wondering why at that point you decided against becoming a professional skater.

CJ: Doreen was just about to become a professional and get married. Our story was ended as far as that was concerned. I had a good job in those days in London, I’d got myself up the ladder. So I wasn’t going back to the bedsitter anymore. I was a little bit further up the ladder. And so I had to reassess, it was so sudden. Don’t forget: we knew everybody in that plane. Everybody. So the shock was terrible. Absolutely terrible. It numbed your brain. You couldn’t think up such as to what was going to happen. So I had to reassess everything as far as that was concerned. I’d already decided to give up skating out of the championship and that was the end of it. And Doreen was going away; she was going to her party in [unintelligible] and she was getting married. So her future was decided. Mine wasn’t. I was just going to continue the job I liked. Skating was going to be just a hobby as far as I was concerned.

I did consider the idea being professional, but I didn’t think I was cut out for it. I don’t think I had the temperament to train. I think to be a teacher, you have to be a very special person. And I don’t think I was that very special person. Ironically, and I don’t think it’s in the book, about a month later, three weeks later, I was skating just for fun in Queens Ice Club in the evening with my friends and somebody said “there’s a call for you in the office from America.” So I went on the call and it was the owner of the largest ice show probably in the world was on the end and said, “if you and Doreen get on a plane we will make you the highest paid Professionals in the world.”

And I said, “Excuse me, but it’s just me. I don’t think you want me. I’m not much good without a partner.” “Oh, I didn’t realize you were no longer skating together,” he says. “So thank you.” That’s it. That’s what really made me decide to continue with my day job, which I loved anyway. So that what it was. And Doreen went and got married and was very successful and she still has a teaching career, as you know, in Colorado Springs because we speak often.

So my two leading ladies, as I call them … two leading ladies. I was lucky enough to have two. We’re still in touch and we’re still chattering away. It’s been wonderful. It is so long ago now.

AM: It really is wonderful. So in 1963, you and another lady invented two dances that are actually standard now!

CJ: There was a whole new competition that the ISU put on to invent new dances, and we’d been doing them in London. And so, the ice … the Skating Association entered us in the competition to show our two dances. So that’s when we debuted the Silver Samba and the Starlight Waltz. And luckily they are still in the schedule now, with is rather nice. It’s wonderful that they are still around.

AM: Do you like watching the evolution of your own dances? I mean, they must have evolved somewhat since you invented them.

CJ: Interesting question. Ah, I suppose they are never performed the way you ever thought they were going to be performed. I suppose that is was it is. I think it’s nice that they are still performed, but they’re not performed in the same nuances as we created them. But I’m sure that’s the same with the piano or any composer; they’re not performed the same way. But as I said, I’m just lucky it’s still being performed. So I’m not complaining.

AM: Well, eventually you did become a high-level ice dance judge, and you judged your first World Championships in 1975. And I’m always curious when people who used to compete are now on the other side of the rink, judging the competitors … how was that for you? Was that just as nerve-wracking? Was it different? Was it the same?

CJ: Almost, because I think you become an international judge, you’ve already started to become a judge at the Novice level, and then you begin the higher level … you move through the actual projection of becoming an international judge that way. So you have a lot of practice, and you put it that way. And it is exactly the same, the same kind of thing, you’re looking for. And yes, I enjoyed being on that side of the barrier. I find it very stimulating. Very interesting but it’s quite different from competing. But yes, I enjoyed judging. I enjoyed refereeing. I enjoyed it. It was a good thing. It was my spare time job.

AM: So one year later in 1976, ice dance as a discipline was finally included in the Olympics and I have to wonder, were you frustrated you never got the opportunity to compete at an Olympics when you were at your prime?

CJ: What would you expect me to say?

AM: I would say, I would think yes, that would be very frustrating.

CJ: Of course I was. yes, of course. Because that is the ultimate goal for any athlete and it was sad that it was not available when we were skating. But it’s a fact of life so you bear with it. And so yes I was sad, but I was just so happy that it was in the Olympics, at long last. That was the main thing. Yes.

AM: Did you have anything to do with having it get included in the Olympics?

CJ: Um, in a round-about way because it was something that came before the whole of ISU, and in particular the dance committee upon which I sat in those days. Obviously I was banging the drum for it to be included. I think it was, it was wrong to have one very special discipline excluded, whatever it was. So as far as that was concerned, yes, I hoped it would be, and it was.

AM: Well, great. Well, one of my favorite things I learned about you, when doing my homework was that you were incredibly influential in one of the most famous ice dance … most famous and most iconic ice dances of all time still to this day, which is Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s Bolero from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. You helped pick the music. You helped make the costumes. Can you walk us through that transformation of how that all happened?

CJ: Let me put it this way: as you know, Bobby Thompson, my partner … we’ve been together 60 years now, since [unintelligible]. And because he was a coach and he was teaching, he actually had five couples in that Olympics, in the British company he was coaching. But people often say to me, how can you be so ingrained in something and then judge it sensibly. Well, I suppose I can’t really answer that question except for the fact I’ve always been known as the hanging judge: the one who puts people down. As such, I’ve not been popular with a lot of it because my idea of perfection was very, very high in my own mind. And very early on in my career as a designer, I got permission from the ISU because clothes were my living and I was going to be a judge, that it would not influence my judging in any way, because I felt that’s the case because I judged … did costumes for all the skaters. It was the job, as far as I was concerned.

And I hope I judged them all impartially. Or tried to. So Chris and Jayne, were, when they first started, very … kind of immature. I think that’s the right word. Probably immature. Christopher was a policeman, as you know, and Jayne was an insurance clerk. They had, shall we say, ordinary backgrounds. It wasn’t a showbiz background at all in any shape or form. They were taught by Janet Hickinbottom … no, Janet Sawbridge. And she decided to give up and they were without teachers. They didn’t really know what to do. They were then British Champions. They were well known. And because we’d also discuss things previously based in, “what shall we do” sort of thing, as you know, there was talk about Betty Callaway after that. And what we had was in the background was [unintelligible]. It was a group of people who are creating something, which I think was magical and remains magical to this day.

And I designed every costume they ever wore because that was my job. Every costume they ever wore. And then when it came to this very, very important one — the Olympic Games — Chris and Jayne were people who didn’t sit back humming. If they did the World Championship in March, they were discussing the music the next month for the next year. That that was their magic. They didn’t sit on it and say, “what do we do?” They had already got a whole lot of ideas to use.

They used to come down and spend the weekend with us. Just to chat over things and spend the weekend in London. And one weekend, they came down to London and said, “you know, we’re thinking about music for next year. It’s such an important year with the Olympics and the World Championships … it’s not going to be easy. So whoever has some ideas, take it down and just have listened to them, just let’s chat about.”

So as usual, they came down and stayed the weekend. And Christopher parked downstairs [unintelligible] and he said, “I’m going downstairs to get some ideas for you to listen to with us, for what you think we should do next year.” And so I got supper and washing up at the time, I think. And said, “well put them on then.” And so the first one they put on was 42nd Street. And in unison, Bobby and I said, “not that one! It’s too much like Mack and Mabel. You’ve got to do something so completely and utterly different. The audience expect it, the judges … you can’t go back. You’ve got to go forward.” So he put one record on, and another for one reason or another. One of the [unintelligible], we said “no don’t like that, doesn’t do it ever.”

And Christopher was getting very irate. Jayne is the placid one. Chris was getting irate. And as the evening progressed, he said, “you don’t like anything!” So I said, “no, but we’re here to discuss your music. It’s so important as to what you’re going to do.” So he put on Bolero. And Bobby and I just said, “that’s it!” He said, “don’t be stupid.” He said, “not only has no other dance couple skated to one tune piece of music throughout…” (they hadn’t up till then, they’d never done it right the way through as a story), he said, “we used that for our warm-up music in Oberstdorf.” He said, “we never thought about it is as a Championship.” But as the night progressed — and it progressed quite a long time — we sat down and thought about it, and he said, “you know, maybe. Perhaps. It builds to a fantastic climax. Maybe you’re not so wrong.”

Jayne was very kind, and she said, “well Chris, calm down. They’ve never let us wrong yet. So they’re being helpful. They’re trying and I think it would work.” So I said, “if you like, I’ll tell … I know my mind what you’re gonna wear.” So I had some paper there and I said, “number one: what’s your favorite color?” So they both said lilac, so I said, “so let’s call it lilac. Wherever it is, it’s going to be lilac.”

So that’s good then. But I said, “it can’t be like a jacket for the man and something hard and heavy because the girl has got to be delicate and diaphanous and float. It’s got to be like your skating, reflecting your skating.” So I sat there and I sketched it round, as said, “it’s got to be almost Greek-looking. Almost Greek-looking: soft and flowy, And Chris, for a change, you perhaps should have a soft top or blouse, or not a blouse but a soft top that echos Jayne’s dress.”

So I sat there and I sketched it out on the table. And so we sort of worked it all out. And that’s how the costumes were actually born. And then as they were being made, because I’m in the trade, I got pure silk chiffon because pure silk chiffon lifts in the air. If you use the man-made flavor, they don’t lift same way. And I got it hand-dyed. And then the famous bucket came in, because we decided we wanted it to become shaded from top to bottom: dark at the bottom and lighter the top.

So I got the bolt of cloth and put it in a bucket at the bottom … in a bucket of dye in the toilet! Every time we went to the toilet, we pulled it up a little bit more so that the dye went to the bottom of it. Chris, every time he went, he said, “oh, it’s getting darker, isn’t it?” It’s a sort of standing joke, this thing. Anyway, I then took it to the pleaters and then it was made there from my sketches then. So that’s how it grew; very little decoration. Very, very little decorations. It’s just the belt and his tunic has two things on the shoulders. So that’s how it was … it was born that way. So it’s now a museum somewhere, I think. I’m not quite sure where the original is. But when they had the show in London they had nine copies made of it. It can’t be washed. So … but the original, I think Jayne told me, is in a museum as are some of the other costumes. I always felt that was a nice part of my life.

AM: That is amazing. In so many levels it’s amazing. But I guess I never thought of dip-dying one of the most iconic costumes in all of skating history in a toilet? Like, that gives me all sorts of …

CJ: The spoon … it was a wooden spoon.

AM: Right? I mean, you did what you had to do to make it work, but you made it work beautifully! It’s amazing. I love that.

Well, after Torvill and Dean it seems that you know — correct me if I’m wrong — but it seems that British ice dancing lost its dominance. Because British skaters were dominant for decades. I mean, it started way back. There was Cecilia Colledge, Jeanette Altwegg. Yourself. I mean, there was even a British podium sweep in ice dance in 1957. John Nicks, John Curry, Robin Cousins, Torvill and Dean … and then it sort of fell off. Why did that happen, do you think? What are your thoughts on that?

CJ: That’s a difficult question to answer. I think number one, the facilities changed in the United Kingdom. People, or entrepreneurs, would build a wonderful skating center that was going to be open 24 hours a day, and there was going to be a second pad and they’d be able to skate on that, and we would produce champions. As soon as they built it, they realized it cost a lot of money and it had to make money. So the extra ice pad was then switched to other things that made money. And the dream of actually having a piece of ice in the UK that would actually produce Championship skaters failed at that stage because, unlike Canada and America where they have so many skating rinks that they can use for their training like Montreal and all over the place, the number of ice services side by side just does not exist in the UK and it never will because it doesn’t make money.

And that is a sad thing.You know, unfortunately the ‘direction,’ should I say, of the National Skating Association changed from amateurs like ourselves and all the people who have given time and help to produce these skaters didn’t happen. And shall I say, ‘paid’ employees — who have no interest in skating as such — took their place. So we don’t have the infrastructure of, I have to use the word, ‘amateur’ enthusiasts who were pushing the sport forward. It doesn’t exist anymore because everything has now become mechanized. I can only use that kind of word. And also, I think it’s very sad now that as soon as somebody does show some kind of ability, they then have to go abroad to train. It saddens me so much when you look at a lot of our ice dancers now going to Montreal. Serious skaters are going as far as the Far East to train.

That is the whole point; it’s no longer concentrated in Great Britain to enable … and also the vast amount of money that is required! I mean I was horrified when somebody taught me how much a new pair of boots and skates cost now. I mean, I can’t believe how anybody could ever afford it.

I mean, the whole thing has become so expensive, to become a champion. And parents give up so much for their children, but they can only get so far. And it’s a dream of mine, but it will never happen, that one could finally end up with a training facility which is not built on money.

AM: Well that was one of the … that was actually one of the things I was delighted to read about you was that you really, very early on, became an advocate for getting financial support for skaters to make it more equitable for those who couldn’t afford it.

CJ: I said in the book that when I became a judge, a British judge, I was asked to judge the Ice Dance Championships in Nottingham. Foolishly, I wrote to the secretary and said, “will you cover the cost of my train fare?” And I got a very curt letter back saying, “if you can’t afford this sport, don’t do it.” That started me off. And since that day, I’ve raised quite a number of millions of pounds for the skaters. So they never have to have … that can never happen to another skater. That you never have or be talented, and there is no way of helping them. You know, that, to me, that is the most important of all. Really.

I don’t want to go on and on. You have other questions, and I brought some for you.

AM: Oh, excellent. I only have a few more. Are you happy with how ice dance has evolved? Because in your day, it was much more upright, the steps were tighter. Now, of course, there are all these incredible lifts. Spins that require great flexibility. And the way the music is used … and costumes. What are your thoughts on the evolution of the sport as a whole?

CJ: I have to answer that very carefully. I think the ice dancers now from top to bottom are of a fantastic athletic standard. I mean, I really do. To be a World or European Champion, and all, you have to be a wonderful athlete. That’s what they are now, they’re wonderfully trained. They are flexible and they’re doing incredible lifts. And most unusual movements that we never seen before.

But with that, I feel the artistic side of our sport … I have seen breathtaking performances at so many events and I’m talking a little bit down to the lower down the line with the couples who are middling and need to move on … I think that there is a question of [unintelligible]. Mediocracy breeds mediocracy. And they’re satisfied that the standard is so high now, you know ice dancing or in every discipline of our sport …. it needs special …

I don’t agree — and I’m certain the coaches will hate me — but I don’t agree with all these fiddling little tests that they have to take them up to even starting to go into competition, which costs the parents a fortune. To my mind, there should be people going around the country — past judges, past officials, people with experience — and pick out as they do in other countries, pick out a skater at a very early age and lift them out of that cycle and put them straight into a much higher learning level. You understand what I mean? They have to go through … I think there are 10, I may be wrong … but 10 tests that the skaters have to go through when they first start, before they actually can go in a major any competition. Now an idea: talent is born and I am convinced that if one can see that little boy or girl in the age of five, six or seven and you can see it it! It’s in their eyes … to my mind it’s in their eyes . But nobody takes any notice of that; if you haven’t got this part, you can’t do the next part.

And I feel all those rules should be not dropped, but discarded, in some cases, pick out people who are truly good, you can see they’re going to be good. Because the parents probably can’t last the financial side of it. Keeping them going until they get there. And they fall by the wayside. I think they should be — sounds real easy — I think talent should be picked out as a much earlier age and then caressed, collected, nurtured at that age and we’re missing out. And that is the answer to your question.

I think that they have to go through too many hoops to finally get to their goal. I’ve probably described it the wrong way, but I think that’s my feeling. You asked me my feeling.

AM: No, that’s fair. That’s totally fair.

CJ: The standard is so high. I think there should be more help to the young skaters financially. I feel the money gained from the test schedules should be put back into the sport with special grants to aspiring skaters, not just going to the main coffers. I think that money should be at a certain level, when they’re training, the test fees should go into a special coffer to help them go up the ladder and to help the parents. So there’s my idea. It won’t happen. But anyway …

AM: You never know!

CJ: The coaches will be throwing things at me!

AM: Well, you also … since you have opinions and I love your opinions, you have opinions on the evolution of the sport as far as same-sex couples being part of dancing events in the future. What are your thoughts on that?

CJ: It changed last night. I’ll tell you why. I’ve always thought it’s an interesting idea, but not really viable as such. I thought it interesting … I wasn’t against it, but I couldn’t really see how it works and how could you have two butch men and two very lightweight ladies competing against each other? It really couldn’t work , though the idea was interesting.

But you know, we have this Strictly Dancing competition here. It was last night. And I think there are similar things in other countries that have done the same thing. And three weeks ago, they started the new season. And in it, they included one male couple for the first time ever. A male couple doing this kind of thing. And I think that at the opening three weeks ago, I would say 17 couples competed. And the judges decided that the male couple would be third out of 17 couples .

Last week, they competed again, and the male couple came second. Last night, the male couple won. And it was fantastic. And I mean, I don’t know how he thought it out. It was masculine. It was beautiful, beautifully danced. And was appreciated by the judges. So any worries that I had about same-sex couples, it is possible. Quite. How you translate it to the ice, I’m not quite sure, but I mean I have made some suggestions in my book about music because music is the engine of our sport. Music is our engine. We just interpret it.

But the main thing, start the whole thing off with the music.You have to have that, and it has to be right kind. And so therefore I can understand male same-sex couples competing against each other and maybe the ladies … I can’t quite see how you’d knit them into the whole picture. I don’t quite … but after last night, I completely changed. I mean, the audience was on their feet. It was incredible.

And yet there was such good dancers last night. They were fantastic. They really were! And in any other competition two or three of them would have won hands down. So yeah, I’m changing. I’m very interested to see how this goes on from now. And what other countries do. Whether the ISU would embrace it wholeheartedly, I don’t know. I have no idea because judging it may be different. And, you know, I am quite like, I don’t understand the next step, you know? It’s a nice idea and I enjoyed it and it’s feasible, but how it will be now moving forward, I don’t know. But last night was incredible. I’ve never seen a night like it to have two men dancing together, beating a different couple who are a man and woman, and nobody objected to it. It was fantastic.

AM: That’s very encouraging.

CJ: It’s encouraging! Because I think the difficulty will be, for the same sex couple, would be

the ladies because I’m not advocating … I wouldn’t advocate for pair skating because it doesn’t seem to go. But even then, I don’t quite sure how you judge something as very aesthetically beautiful against something that’s very strong and masculine. It would not be easy. But last night, I changed my opinion. It is possible. So I figured that I’ve changed my opinion.

AM: Okay, and what about your opinion on compulsory dances and their place in the future of ice dance?

CJ: I think there will always be a place for compulsory dances because I, as far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to be a great musician, you’ll be learning piano. The first thing you have to do is to learn the scales. To me the compulsory dances or figures, when you come to figure skating, were the scales of our sport.You have to learn those first before you moved on to do the overtures. And now the standard of the compulsory dances are so high … they’re brilliant, I mean, the standard is absolutely brilliant. They’re musical. They’re lovely to watch and such. I think nowadays, the ice dancers only have one part to repeat, one part of the compulsory dance within their overall program. We just keep them in mind, but I would love that people began to have compulsory dance competitions again because to my mind that would be the way to bring them back. There’s probably no money in it and nobody is interested, but really compulsory dances, and especially the new ones that have been introduced now — I think that there’s over 30 now! — would be lovely to have compulsory dance competitions, so you can see those done as well. And then that will be my hope. I hope that they were not disappear anymore. Figure skating, doing figures of eights and everything, has disappeared. Though some trainers still teach them, I understand, as an exercise of control and this is a very good idea. I think the same thing … skating has lost its social aspect because in the days I skated, everything would stop for the dancing, and then you pick your partner and you’d dance. It was a social thing.

AM: They even had social dancing when I was a kid at my rink. Yeah. Absolutely. It was coffee and dancing.

CJ: That’s right. And that’s disappeared completely. Everybody … I would be so happy for that to return … the social side of skating in which partnerships were formed! Let’s face it: they were formed in dance intervals, and friendships and marriages were formed in dance intervals. You know, that’s where they met. But it doesn’t happen now. There is no social side to ice skating these days, especially not ice dancing. I’d be so happy if you know, rinks would just occasionally had evenings of dancing or something, you know? You know, if we brought more people into the fold. But I don’t think it’s going to happen because financially it just isn’t viable.

AM: Well, you’ll be happy to know that at the Adult Figure Skating Championships in the U.S., most years on Sunday mornings after the event is over, there is actually a social dance. But yeah, I’ve only been able to do it once because usually I’m flying out the next morning. But but it was really a blast. It was it was a lot of fun.

CJ: It is! It’s fun. And I think skating should be fun. Let’s bring back fun into skating!

AM: Christopher Dean himself said that you were an innovator in ice dance, which is a heck of a compliment. You wrote editorials about how music should be approached. You’ve designed skating wear. You invented two dances. You changed how the music was cut. You’ve had, obviously a lot of influence in the sport of ice dance. What would you consider to be the biggest influence that you’ve left?

CJ: Oh dear, that is difficult, isn’t it? Having been on an ice dance committee — the ISU one — I see my period on the ice dance committee was the best time of my career because I was able in my own way to influence ice dancing. So I would like to say my time on that committee gave me an opportunity to be an influence. Isn’t that the proper word? An influence in ice dance. I would think I’d like to think that.

AM: I love that. All right. Well, I know you have some questions for me. I do want to just mention that you have an autobiography coming out that’s called, “Around the Ice” that you worked on with Helen Cox and it will be available December of 2021 just a few months from now, and I was really lucky enough to get a sneak peek. So thank you for sharing that with me in advance because I absolutely loved your stories! It’s hilarious, and informative and fun all at the same time.

CJ: Well, as I say, skating should be fun to my mind. But that’s the thing that is lacking to a certain extent in our skating when we go to a rink, you know? I spent a lot of time in Canada last couple of decades and in Canada, they have quite a lot of social skating, and I’m just hoping one day it will come back again. In a small way. But at least social skating would be attractive to young people. It has to attract young people. As discos do now, and that kind of thing. So, they are all for the disco!

I mean, you’re so good at your job, I really don’t have any questions at all I can ask you!

AM: I appreciate that. I’m thrilled that you let me into your world for a little while. I especially appreciate it since we were about eight timezones apart that you worked with me on timing. And yeah, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

CJ: Thank you for asking me on. I’m very honored to be in such great company when I see you have interviewed in the past.

AM: Wasn’t that fun? A huge thank you to Helen Cox who assisted Mr. Jones with not only with getting his book to print, but also with arranging this interview with me and him from his residence in Spain. And I would also like to thank Ryan Stevens, for connecting us all in the first place.

Remember to visit ypdbooks.com and get your copy of “Around the ice in 80 Years: an Irreverent Memoir by an Accidental Champion.” You will not be disappointed.

Until next time, may you find yourself an accidental champion in everything you do. May you find the fun in figure skating. And unless, you can dip dye your own costume with a wooden spoon and a toilet, never skate to Carmen. Bye!

About the Author
Yup, I’m a skating fan. But I’m a skater too. I compete nearly every year in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, and am always thrilled to see my other skating buddies there. In my real life I work in marketing for brands that make positive changes in the world, and a mom of two rambunctious boys.

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