Ice Queen

What it takes to chase a dream

At 26-years-old, Ice Dance Champion and Olympian, Tessa Virtue, has achieved greatness. We sat down with Tessa to talk about what it takes to set and achieve goals amidst often heavy pressure and a demanding schedule.

What has recently been keeping you busy?

Recently, Scott and I announced our return to competitive skating, so I have been busy adjusting to life as an athlete again! While I thoroughly enjoyed some time away from amateur sport after Sochi, it is refreshing to once again have both structure and purpose as part of my daily routine.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to take the ice again as a competitor, and really looking forward to the process of creating new programs. We will be working with a new team of coaches and choreographers, which will no doubt offer a fresh and inspiring energy – not to mention, making the big move to Montreal!

How would you describe yourself?

This is always one of the most challenging questions! I am certainly an old soul. Additionally, I am goal-oriented and very driven. That said, I’m easily pleased . . . coffee, pastries, and retail therapy are all I need to make me happy!

Who or what inspires you?

So many things inspire me! Art, dance, travel, fashion, nature, and film (to name a few) . . . I draw motivation from my surroundings, whatever they may be. Right now, I am enthused by the notion of being a student again – Scott and I are working on new skating techniques, learning new moves, and gaining so much new insight that is changing the way we approach the sport. I have so much to learn!

Also, working with Hillberg and Berk has been truly enlightening and stimulating – and I’m not just saying that because this is an H&B blog! Beyond the exceptional quality, collaborative design process, limitless creativity, and invigorating company energy, what has struck me the most is the passion and positivity that every single H&B employee contributes to the brand. Rachel sets the tone for a supportive work environment, and the brand devotion and commitment to philanthropy is evident at every level of the corporate structure. Empowering women (one sparkle at a time) is truly at the heart of every beautiful design, and I feel so honoured to be part of the H&B family!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

I grew up believing that I could be anyone and do anything – I truly felt (and still feel) limitless. I attribute this to my mom, Kate, and grandmother, Eleanor, for instilling in me the idea that I could achieve even the loftiest of goals. Their advice to me was simple: dream big, set goals, and most importantly, always be authentic.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Pushing your body to its limits and investing everything you have for those few moments under pressure is the ultimate reward. There is truly no better feeling than finishing a program and knowing that in that moment, you could not have performed better. This stems from hard work, and lots of it!

What have been the greatest challenges of your career?

Pursuing life as an athlete requires many sacrifices – among them for me was moving away from home at a young age (13), foregoing the normal school/social experiences growing up, and battling injury. I’ve had two surgeries on my lower legs, and dealt with training and performing in excruciating pain. However, and there always is a ‘however’, these challenges have also offered the greatest lessons. Often, I found setbacks forced me re-evaluate my goals and processes, while offering some healthy perspective on what matters most. Ultimately, it wasn’t hard to realize my trials and tribulations were not catastrophic in the scheme of things – it’s figure skating after all.

When you are preparing for a big event or setting your next goal, is there a process you consistently follow?

Goal setting is an integral part of any preparation, be it for skating, school, personal, or business ventures. I find writing down specific goals is key, as is creating a realistic action plan. It’s also important for me to break the process into manageable increments – a yearly goal may seem daunting, for example. But, writing down the daily, weekly, and monthly steps that will help me get there allows me to focus on the details of the here and now. Checking in and being adaptable are also key factors of successful goal setting, allowing for (and encouraging) the celebration of smaller accomplishments along the way! These are the building blocks that offer motivation for the end goal.

Do you have any strategies for managing stress?

For me, managing stress is about being present, embracing time alone, and creating time in my schedule for things that allow me to decompress/disconnect. I love taking baths, reading, turning off my phone for extended periods of time, and sometimes doing yoga. Additionally, I recently started using the app ‘Headspace’ which helps to train mindfulness and meditation. All of these things allow me to feel balanced when otherwise my world feels chaotic and unsettling.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

People may be surprised to learn that I was a total tomboy growing up (as evidenced by the construction boots I wore with EVERYTHING, the constant bruises that covered my chubby little legs, and the football plays I would run with my brothers in the backyard).

What is your most memorable moment?

Two moments come to mind immediately:

1 – Standing on the podium in Vancouver, singing Oh Canada with 11,000 people. I get chills just thinking about it! I vividly remember feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, beyond proud to be Canadian, and thankful to have shared a career’s worth of special memories with Scott.

2 – This past Christmas, in my kitchen, with all my siblings, my mom, and my niece – in that moment, I thought I’d never been happier. We laughed so much and even had a dance party! I’m so fortunate to have the incredible family that I do.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would love to thank H&B for providing me with the opportunity to explore a different creative realm, and for their unwavering support and encouragement. I have loved every moment of this collaboration!

I’d also like to mention that I do in fact read all of our fan mail and messages from people around the world, and I am eternally grateful for all of the effort and kind sentiments shared.

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