Ashley is currently in Moscow preparing for the Grand Prix - Rostelecom Cup of Russia which begins tomorrow. She's also doing something very interesting and unique in order to connect more with her fans. In addition to her Facebook page, Twitter account and her official site, she's also started a Vlog (video blog) on YouTube. She's uploaded three vlogs so far and it's a great way for fans and friends to feel like they're with her in the moment. I think Twitter accomplishes that too, but let's face it, a video Twitter is what we really want, and Ashley is trying to have real-time conversations with us as best as she can. I think she would appreciate us subscribing to her YouTube vlog channel so after reading this, please click here and watch and subscribe!
In the meantime, she answered my questions in between practices, doing her homework (at 18, she's a freshman in college) and relaxing.
I'm always curious about the process of how skaters select their music. Can you tell us about how you came to skate to Once Upon a Time in America (short program) and Polovtsian Dances (free skate) for this season?
Ashley: I started out having an idea of what type of music I wanted to skate to for my long, all Priscilla Hill [coach] and I needed to do was figure out what the piece was going to be from. I wanted something similar to my Spartacus program last year, but I felt that it needed to be a little softer and more mature. Originally I thought I was going to skate to Samson and Delilah, but my choreographer Irina Romanova thought it would be more realistic to have me skating to Polovtsian Dances. For the short it took us about two weeks of listening to music straight through to find my short. I wanted something deep and emotional, and when we found the music, I knew it was the one I wanted to skate to for my Olympic year. At first I wasn't crazy about it, but after listening to it four or five times I knew it had a lot of potential.
You mentioned that you need the internet and e-mail wherever you travel because you need it for school. Can you elaborate?
Ashley: I am a freshman in college -- I'm going to Northern Virginia Community college because I have to pay for my own classes. I'm hoping to get my general requirements out of the way at community college and then after two years, potentially transfer to Georgetown University. I hope to be a sports psychologist.
I read that you were inspired by Tara Lipinski. the 1998 Olympic gold medalist, from the U.S.
Ashley: Yes, there really weren't any other skaters that I looked up to as much as I looked up to Tara Lipinski. The first time I met Tara, I thought, "Wow, I cannot believe I am talking to her!" Tara is actually my mentor, so the first time I met her was when I was out in Los Angeles last month for an Olympic Media Summit. She invited me over to her house and I was completely star struck. She's amazing though, she is completely down to earth and she gave me a lot of advice that I can put towards my Olympic year.Where do you keep all your medals?
Ashley: My medals end up all around the house, so that is a great question. I do keep the important ones like my Junior Worlds medals in a box somewhere. (photo at right, Ashley wins the bronze medal at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships)What is your hardest jump or jump combination and why?
Ashley: I can do triple triple combinations, so I would say that is my hardest combination. It is also hard because of the risk factor that comes with the jumps. The new system has been really hard on downgrades so the combination has to be really solid in order for me to consider putting it in the program.
What is your favorite take-out food when no one feels like cooking?
Ashley: I really like Thai food, and there is an amazing Thai place in Virginia that I honestly crave!
What is the most embarrassing thing we would find in your refrigerator?
Ashley: Probably like an undated piece of pizza or something like that.
What is the last movie that you saw? Who is your favorite actor?
Ashley: I haven't been to the movies in SO long, so I don't remember the last thing I saw. My favorite actress would be Drew Barrymore though.
Do you have time for a social life and even dating?
Ashley: I do have a social life -- I try to maintain a balance between skating and my "fun side" of life. I do have a steady boyfriend, who I have been dating for three years. In this crazy sport he keeps me sane. :) And I'm also lucky because I get to go back home (to Virginia) on the weekends when I'm not training in Delaware, to see family and friends, so I don't have to miss them too much!
What is the best piece of advice anyone gave you regarding your skating career?
Ashley: I actually don't remember who told me this, but the best advice I have ever gotten was that if I was going to skate and put all this work into the sport, I had to be having fun and I had to love it. I always think back to that whenever I'm having a rough day because it is pretty inspiring for me.
Note: The ladies short program begins tomorrow and you can watch it live on icenetwork.com at 11 a.m. ET. The U.S.'s Alissa Czisny will also be competing and it will be very interesting to see which American woman comes out ahead. I'll be watching and wishing good thoughts for all the skaters to have their best skates. UPDATE: Ashley won the silver medal and Alissa came in fourth overall.