Alex and Mitch in front of St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square (Moscow)

Alex and Mitch in front of St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square (Moscow)

I am always happy when I get the chance to go to a skating event just for fun. That was the case last night when I was co-MCing the 4th annual Margaret Garrison COS Awards show at the Powerade Centre in Brampton. 

Aside from the great skating,  there are even greater people. Take ice dancers Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam. We had scheduled some time several times over the season and with one thing and another, we didn’t have the chance to catch up until yesterday.

What I like about these two is pretty much everything. Not only are they wonderful skaters, they are articulate, intelligent young people who are terrific ambassadors for not only figure skating but life.

They haven’t had an easy time of it over the last 2 seasons between injuries and an uncharacteristically poor performance at this year’s National Championships. I don’t think that we have had the chance to see what these two can really do. I also think that’s about to change.

Hard at work on preparations for the Olympic season they were able to reflect on the good and bad of their struggles in this interview.




Their work ethic is something to be admired especially since they have paired their training at the Detroit Skating Club with university studies in political science at Oakland University in nearby Rochester, Michigan. I know I am not alone in thinking that actively pursuing higher education speaks to Alex and Mitch’s ability to “think big picture” about their lives.

I am always fascinated when things have not gone according to plan what bigger thing gives athletes their focus. It is a question to which I really wanted the answer. I fired off an email this morning to Alex and Mitch in which I posed the following question:

Regardless of results or of what the future may hold, can you tell me what has been the value for each of you in pursuing ice dance?

Here is what they said via e-mail to me today.


Alex:  “Pursuing ice dance has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, it has taught me some of the most valuable lessons to this day. I have learned how to be respectful of other peoples ideas and it has taught me how to be a responsible person from a young age. Having a partner has made me learn  to work together and make compromises which I believe will be extremely valuable in my life after skating. I have be able to experience dealing with disappointment and move on from it, as well as set big goals for myself. To some people some of these things may sound negative, but they are all very positive and will continue to help me grow as a person.”

Mitch:   “Sport has always been a big part of my life and it has taught me lessons I’m not sure I could’ve had anywhere else. Being an elite athlete has a way of thrusting extreme difficulties (and successes) on you, realities some don’t endure on such a scale this early in their lives. Ice dancing has taught me to be patient but hardworking, to respect and care for another person, and to conduct my life as a young person in a responsible fashion. Skating has given me a goal to work towards and I think having goals is conducive to realizing success, whether on the ice or in life.” 

Working hard today with their eye on a future that can hold a number of different possibilities: Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam are great examples of preparation, perseverance and pluck.

Follow Alex @alexandrapaul_  and Mitch @mitchislam  on Twitter.