Joelle Forte is on fire! No, not literally of course. But this girl is awfully determined to make the most of this season, beginning with the North Atlantic regional championships next week in Lake Placid. Joelle is 24, so kind of on the older side for senior girls. But she's actually hitting her stride at 24 mentally and physically which I find very interesting. Her coaches are US and World champion Elaine Zayak and Russian skater Dmitri Gromov and they've helped Joelle to reach her peak while other skaters her age may be contemplating a post-skating career.
I first took note in 2009 when Joelle placed 12th at the US Championships in January. She had been out of the competitive circuit for a while so it was great to see someone that talented return to the ice. Then during the 2009-2010 season she disappeared, kind of. I saw her name on the roster for a few events where she was representing Azerbaijan so that was a little confusing. Thank goodness I caught up with her in NYC earlier this year to clear up some of the mystery. Joelle and others, including Oksana Baiul, Lucinda Ruh, Tai Babilonia, Melissa Bulanhagui, Angela Maxwell and Parker Pennington, were on hand to support One Step Closer, an AIDS benefit held at Lasker Rink in Central Park.
From our conversation, here are the highlights:
- On which country she is representing for the 2010-2011 season - Joelle: "I'm not representing Azerbaijan anymore. I tried but I did not want to wait another year to have nothing happen again so I will be skating for the USA. My plans for this season are to improve my program component scores. I have been working on my presentation a lot this year."
- On her graduating from Fordham University in NYC with a degree in psychology - Joelle: "I really felt it was important to get my diploma! While skating and competing I was going to Fordham full time so it was pretty hectic but well worth it. I majored in Psychology and yes, I want to continue my studies -- I already started looking at graduate schools."
- On her short and long programs this season - Joelle: "My short program is Cirque Du Soleil and my long is Piano Concerto 2 by Rachmaninoff."
- On why she continues to skate - Joelle: "I really love figure skating. I wake up every day and I couldn't imagine my life doing something else. I truly love what I do."
Below is Joelle's skate to Cirque du Soleil during the One Step Closer AIDS benefit. Love her crisp clean jumps!