Williston native skates in world championships

Williston native Ross Miner is set to compete in the World Figure Skating Championships this week. (Observer courtesy  photo by Jay Adeff/U.S. Figure Skating)
Williston native Ross Miner is set to compete in the World Figure Skating Championships this week. (Observer courtesy photo by Jay Adeff/U.S. Figure Skating)

By Kathy Rumleski

Observer correspondent

Ross Miner had to leave his beloved hometown to see the world.

What a journey it has been. The 22-year-old, who says if he could live on the ice he would, is poised to show off his solid technique and power-laden jumps at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario this week.

The championship features the best 165 athletes from 50 countries, and determines the number of entries qualifying countries can send to the Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next year.

Miner is one of two Americans skating in the men’s division. He stepped onto the ice Wednesday  for the short program part of the competition and will perform his long program Friday.

“Show off” are the words he uses to describe his skating, admitting he loves attention.

That attention started at an early age, when he exhibited a talent for both figure skating and hockey.

Miner was a happy, fun-loving kid with a backyard rink on Southfield Drive in Williston, with tons of friends and opportunities for sport. Life was good, but it was becoming clear that this life had to be interrupted.

Miner and his parents, Ray and Gloria, had a tough decision to make—one that entailed huge sacrifices.

Should they move to Boston to nourish Miner’s budding figure skating talent or stay in Williston, where their son could compete recreationally?

Once the decision was made to take a chance in Boston and uproot, it changed Miner’s world.

At 13, he had to leave behind all he knew and loved.

“That was pretty rough,” Miner recalls. “I had lived in Williston in the same house since I was born. The last night we stayed there, I was a mess the next morning.”

Turns out, though, it was a good decision.

As Miner steps onto the ice at Budweiser Gardens in London—an hour from the Michigan border—he knows it’s because of that decision, as hard as it was at the time.

The national silver medalist thanked Williston after his first practice in London for all of its support as he pursues a world title.

At Monday’s training session, which started just after 8 a.m., Miner put in a solid 40-minute workout, his face reddening. He looked composed on the outside, but inside things were churning.

“It wasn’t my best practice,” he said. “It was getting my legs underneath me.”

Miner says he needs to bear down this week after getting his first practice out of the way.

“I’ll come back…with a little more determination and focus,” he said.

The audience that turned out early at the practice to get its first look at the skaters clapped for Miner’s successful jumps.

He’s working his way up to pulling off a quadruple jump that’s competition ready.

Miner landed his first quad—a type of jump called a salchow—while competing at the NHK Trophy event in Japan in the fall, on his way to a bronze medal.

He says when he nailed the quad—a career highlight—he gave himself only an instant to celebrate.

“I had a moment when I said, ‘OK. Good job. Next element. Time to move on.’”

Even though Miner was quite young when he left Williston to train in Boston, his coach, Peter Johansson, said he saw in him some showmanship.

“He was a crowd pleaser. He was a confident little kid,” he said.

Johansson says he’s been a treat to train. “Whatever you tell him, he’ll do it. It’s a unique thing at 22. He’s a very good athlete.”

He also says his parents have supported their son every step of the way. “His parents were willing to do anything to fulfill his dream.”

To prepare for the worlds, Miner received some nice departing gifts as he left for Canada, including 89 packs of gum from a friend he is always pestering for a stick. It should be enough to get him through the competition.

Miner said he can’t wait to perform his long program on Friday, choreographed to Erich Korngold‘s “Captain Blood,” and said he’s finding ways to keep improving on it.

“I actually really love the program,” he said. “I love the music a lot. It’s a great program for me. It shows off a different side of my skating. I keep getting more and more into the character.”

As a dedicated athlete, Miner seems ready to take on the global competition.

“I’m really happy to have earned the opportunity to compete for my country,” he said. “I try to go into every competition knowing that I’ve done more work and smarter work than any of my competitors.”

He’ll soon find out if it paid off.