|H&L When did you know skating was your career?
David I never knew that this was what I was going to do. I can’t say I had an ‘Olympic dream’ until I started skating with Jamie. Because when you’re a kid the Olympics seem so big.
You just go through your career step by step. First sectionals; then provincial champ-ionships; divisionals; then you go to national championships; next you’re off to the Junior Worlds and then you’re competing internationally and you’re still a novice. You have the same steps for junior, then senior.
In ’98 I reached a point in my life that I had to make a living, you can’t be fifth in Canada for the rest of your life – that doesn’t pay the bills. When Jamie and I started our partnership that’s when I decided to devote myself 100%. Jamie A child doesn’t tell their parents, “I’m going to be an Olympic Champion.” Although apparently I was quite confident. When I saw someone on TV I liked, I’d want to be like them so I’d say, “When I go to the Worlds are they going to hold up that sign?” I really didn’t have a clue. It’s step by step, year by year and then all of a sudden you’re at the Worlds or Olympics.
H&L Was it about focusing on what you loved to do?
Jamie That’s exactly it! It’s a passion. I started skating at three (David as well) and joined the ‘Can Skate’ program at five because my neighbour was in it. I passed all my badges by 7 and it was time for private lessons. I had to choose between gymnastics and skating. I knew right away it was skating because I just loved it. It made me feel good inside.
David The first competition I ever watched was the ’88 Olympics. (Ditto for Jamie). Brian Orser won the Worlds and was going to the Olympics. I watched him and the pairs skating. That’s when pairs skating became my passion. To be honest figure skating really wasn’t, it was a way for me to release energy outside the house..
H&L What motivates the two of you daily?
Jamie Sometimes it’s hard if we’re not working. We have such a good life. We love performing and make a great living. David says, “We’re living the dream!” What motivates me is that I get to do this with David. He’s my favourite person to be with. And though we go to the rink to work, most of the time we go to have fun.
David is much more intense then I am, I balance him and he helps me be a little more serious. I was always the one who wanted to smile and have fun and laugh, that’s the way I work and Dave would say, “I’m here to win,” and “we’ve got to be good!” So I’d make him laugh and he’d make me laugh. But he also makes me step up to another level. And that’s what helped us become gold medalists.
H&L Speaking of the gold medal, tell us about that experience?
Jamie It wasn’t what we wanted. More specifically the ceremony itself wasn’t what we wanted or what it would have been if we had been presented with the gold right away.
We were given the gold medal because of the controversy. People were outraged – it was in every newspaper and magazine. The IOC President was told to do something about it, so he gave us a gold medal to shut everyone up. It was weird.
David I had a discussion with Scott Hamilton who said, “You have to look at yourself as Olympic champions. For the IOC to change a decision like that it had to be pretty obvious and right to do it. How many times in Olympic history has this happened?” It wasn’t that we were unhappy with silver; we had heard that there had been collusion between the judges and we didn’t want that to happen to anyone.
Jamie The funny thing is that it didn’t really matter that we got silver; we knew we had given a gold medal performance. All the support felt really great!
David It was better to be second and have 95% of the people saying that we should have won, than being first and having 95% of the people saying we should never have won. (Jamie agrees). We were happy with what we did on the ice. And that’s what got us through the ordeal.
H&L What feeds your spirit?
David Everything I let my soul be fed by – the good things in life. Waking up every morning – that’s something we take for granted. Every minute I have with Jamie. A good book, a nice evening at home.
I know what doesn’t feed my soul and I keep that out of my life. I know how much I can do and take. You have to be aware of who you are.
My job feeds my soul because I can be creative. Every performance at this stage of our career is about feeling instead of the technical side of it. You know you can’t recreate feeling because every feeling is different when you skate. I’m lucky to have this as part of my job. I believe that everything you love you should do more often.
H&L Very inspiring. Most people aren’t able to use their creativity daily. How did you know David was the partner for you?
Jamie My coach felt Dave was both technically and physically strong. And that he was a good match because he’s good looking and likes to perform like I do.
I was literally waiting for him. We had tried two years prior. I really didn’t understand why it didn’t work out because I thought it was amazing.
I heard he was quitting and called him, “You’re not quitting, please don’t quit.” He said, “I’m not quitting but I’m not sure what I want to do.” So I suggested that we skate together now and he said, “Absolutely.” So it really was up to him, I was waiting.
H&L When did the relationship change from a working relationship?
Jamie It took almost two years. At first it was packaging us – we needed to be seen together and do things together. Every team does that but not every team is a couple. We started traveling and getting to know one another. It was the first year we did our program ‘Love Story’ maybe it was a little bit of that as well. We opened up to one other and started talking about things. We started hanging out and became buddies. That’s how it evolved.
David I was always aware that Jamie was a beautiful girl and that she could be somebody I’d get along with. But when we started skating together I knew that was a path I didn’t want to go down. Maybe that was why I was reluctant to open up because I knew where it would lead. But you can only fight it so much and you just have to let it happen to see where it goes.
H&L Does anything bug you about David?
Jamie Nothing. We’ve learned about each other’s differences and how to accept them. There are things about me that annoy David but he’ll say, “Well that’s what makes her who she is.” I had to learn that.
It upsets me when he’s hard on himself. David’s an extreme perfectionist, this is part of why he’s so good. I didn’t understand that in the beginning, I didn’t understand how someone so good could always be so mad at themself for making, what I thought was a silly, little mistake. But for him that little mistake meant everything. This made me realize that he really wanted to win.
I’m the opposite – always laughing and smiling, “It’s okay, I’ll do it tomorrow, no big deal”. He would think, “Wow, she doesn’t take this very serious.” But that was my way. So we learned to make it work and we respect each other for who we are.
H&L David’s most endearing quality?
Jamie Just one? He’s got so many. He’s a caring, passionate person. David makes me feel loved no matter what. He’s sensitive and very aware of what’s going on. He gives his heart and soul all the time. David doesn’t do anything unless it’s at 110% – in everything not just skating. He’s very funny – he makes me laugh a lot.
H&L Everyone believes you guys have a fairytale life.
Jamie We do!
H&L That’s exactly what we want. What do you do to bring yourselves back together if you feel disconnected?
David It never lasts long. Working together and living together is a plus if it’s used the right way. Everything is a tool including your mind. We had to learn how to talk about whatever it was right away and in the right way. It’s easy to say and very difficult to do.
We always try to be as balanced as possible as a couple. And it tends to happen like that all the time. If there’s a situation that brings me down, Jamie will know when to step up and vice versa. This is one of our strengths as a couple.
Jamie This has been six years of working at it. We used to fight about stuff in the beginning, we don’t anymore. We realized that it was a waste of energy and we don’t want to talk to one another that way. Now if he’s mad or I’m mad we tell one another how we’re feeling. I wasn’t a good listener before. I liked to talk, where he didn’t like to talk he liked to listen – another balance. We learned that he needed to open up and communicate more and I needed to learn how to listen and understand him. It’s work. We’ve enjoyed it because now we’re closer than ever. Now I feel like I’ve been with him my whole life. I’ve learned to love and accept all of our differences.
David To me everybody has a vision of what a fairytale is. It’s my own fairytale – it’s not perfect but it’s perfect for me. And it wouldn’t be a fairytale if I didn’t ask Jamie to marry me. That means I want to spend the rest of my life with her, so for me it’s my fairytale.
H&L What's important for your physical health?
Jamie Eating properly. Food is fuel. Even though our sport is about how you look we both had decided that it was important to eat properly and work out. We do a lot of cardio training and yoga. We’ve been doing yoga for two and a half years now and love it. So yoga, eating well, and rest is important. When we don’t get enough rest everything is affected. You need to know what works for you. I need 8 or 9 hours of sleep and Dave can function on 7.
H&L Although young in years you’re both mature in experience.
Jamie When I talk to kids about my experience and how I got here, my story isn’t very different from other people’s. Deep down I always believed in myself. I worked hard, I persevered. Actually both of us have learned more through our adversities then through our successes. So many times we’ve both been beaten down by comments such as, “You’re really not going to get anywhere, you should quit.” But, deep down I’ve always had, as Dave calls it: “the fire in the belly.”
What would I have done if I didn’t skate? I only wanted to skate. That’s all I know. I tell kids to find what they love, stick to it and work very, very hard at it. Don’t give up – it’s not magic. I also surround myself with good people – that’s very important.
David I know myself very well and I know my challenges everyday. Sometimes I get really excited and sometimes I get really mad. Then there’s that line in the middle. I try to get myself there all the time. My yoga teacher, who’s become one of my friends back home, explained, “Everything – physical things, happiness, sadness, even the breath are all tools to use to have a good life and be content.” It’s how you use your mind. Content is an underrated word. It means – having $10 in my pocket and being content with that, but reaching for $25. Being content is not trying to be somewhere else. You’re who you are and what you are right now, in the moment. Live it for what it is. (Jamie agrees) That’s a challenge for me anyway.
Jamie It’s true. Everything about what we do is all about life and what’s important. And we’ve learned a lot of very valuable life skills through this. Like Dave said, “Breathing.” We take that for granted and yes skating is a beautiful thing but you need to learn more about what you’re doing than just what the obvious is and look deeper into things. Skating is more then just going out and performing night after night.
H&L It’s being grateful for what you have so you can have more?
David Yes. Being content with driving a crap car because it takes me where I want to go. I may want to have a better car but I can’t call the car I have a piece of crap. It’s being content with this and to stop looking on the dark side.
Jamie For a lot of people today they’re not satisfied with what they have. Unfortunately for some people it takes something awful to happen in life before they realize what they have.
David That’s very true. And I don’t want bad things to happen to me to realize that. You need to work on it when you think your life is great not when something or someone is gone, then it’s too late.
Jamie And validating people. Phoning your Mom, your brother or your little nephew and telling them you love them. Cherish one another and the moments you have.