Here on Skater Spotlight, we feature skaters in our community who are doing cool things in hopes to inspire, motivate and spread the word about the unlimited opportunities of our awesome sport!
Sammie competed through the senior level in ladies division until 2011 and began her first professional contract in 2013. She has since worked for 4 different ice show companies spanning several contracts and 5 years as a solo skater. Currently she is half of an adagio pair team with her partner Trent and they have completed 3 contracts together in the past year and a half. In addition to 7 ship contracts with Bietak Productions, she has worked for Wheeler Productions and Dynamic Shows and she has performed in Broadway on Ice holidays of 2014 and 2015. Sammie currently lives at sea, performing on board Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships.
What surprised you most about ship life?
Sammie: I was surprised at how quickly friendships are made and how your cast becomes family in just weeks. With ships and Bietak productions, I am constantly surprised how many shows and skaters are operating at any given moment. 12 ships, some with multiple ice shows, with either 10 or 12 skaters performing all year round is a big machine to power!
What is hardest to explain to others who don't live at sea?
Sammie: It’s hard to explain how you miss the simplest of every day things. For instance- driving your car around, cooking, being around pets and animals- all things people may take for granted but that we don’t have on ships. Ships are really another world so different from normal life but only those who experience working on ships truly understand.
What is your favorite cruise ship port and why?
Sammie: It’s difficult to choose just one! I would say San Juan if in the Caribbean, and maybe Palma de Mallorca in Europe. Old town in San Juan is so lovely and clean, wonderful cafes and historic streets. Just a few minutes away is the beach and waterfront area. You have rainforests nearby is you wish to take a tour. So many things to offer! Mallorca is similar in that there is so much variation with wonderful food, shopping and beaches. Not to mention super scenic and beautiful!
What was the hardest adjustment for you when it comes to skating on ships?
Sammie: Being away from home and family was the hardest adjustment and doesn’t get too much easier with time. The size of the ice was also an adjustment for the first several months. Unlike competing, ship shows and ice shows in general involve sometimes difficult costumes, quick changes, and disorienting lighting. This is an adjustment for anyone new to shows.
What do you love most about skating on ships that you can't get anywhere else performing in other shows?
Sammie: One thing I love is the challenge of 10 skaters on a very small surface performing difficult group numbers and intense solos during rocky seas. That’s an experience unique to ships. There’s also not many shows where you can settle, unpack and have a little home for many months on end.
What is your favorite role you skated?
Sammie: So many amazing roles I’ve been fortunate to skate. The rainbow solo on Explorer of the seas was one of my favorites. Also the rock girl on Liberty.
What are skating products you can't leave without for your contract?
Sammie: I’m off to a ship contract in a week. I must have at least one pair of floquiya fishnets, tan skate tape, my favorite showgirl lashes from Inglot, some scented wood pieces to keep my skates smelling nice, and plenty of skate socks including floquiya’s merino ones :) I also need a hacky sack and my muscle roller!
Was performing on cruise ships something you always aimed for as a young skater or something you fell into?
Sammie: It’s something I definitely had the luck to fall into. I had plans to audition for Disney on ice when I was done competing or taking my dance further, but then my coaches mentioned that there are ice shows on Royal Caribbean ships and recommended I go for that. I was so curious of course and wanted to find out more. After sending out some videos, 6 years later I am still going!
What are guests/audience members most shocked or curious about when it comes to ice skating on cruise ships?
Sammie: The main thing they are curious about is how we stay on our feet and perform seemingly easily with the ship moving and occasional rocky seas. They wonder how its possible especially with the small size of our rink. It takes getting used to for sure.
What is your advice for young competitive skaters who may want to transition into show skating?
Sammie: If you’re thinking of auditioning for shows, one piece of advice would be to focus on showcasing your individuality and only show the jumps that you are 100% confident in, could do in your sleep under all adverse conditions. Another thing to remember is to use all opportunities to grow your skating and learn new things. In shows you will be surrounded by skaters busting with talent and skills and it’s so neat to be in an environment where people can share knowledge and have the opportunity to learn new elements. Take advantage of that!
Who/what are your biggest inspirations as a professional show skater?
Sammie: Anyone who is pushing the boundaries of ice skating, being creative, taking chances and offering unique ideas with choreography and shows inspires me. More specifically, Chris Nolan is one example of an inspiration to me and fellow skaters. I enjoy watching his choreography as much as I love skating it. He is a privilege to work with as a pro skater.
What do you think the ice skating world needs more of?
Sammie: The ice skating world just needs more and different ice shows and theatre companies, period. They offer not just a creative outlet for skaters but also a family and a chance to be part of a team. Especially to those who are (or becoming) burnt out from competition but still enjoy skating and learning new things. I have learnt so much as a professional skater and we need more opportunities to enjoy ice skating as performers or as audience!
What do you think the ice skating world needs less of?
Sammie: I think the ice skating world needs less emphasis on technical skills and jumps. It has become such a points game and I truly miss the artistic side of skating. In my opinion that has gotten a bit lost in recent years. I want more of the edge quality, presentation and individuality that I’m used to and was inspired by as a kid!