It Takes Two
Pair skaters Alex Shaughnessy, from Duxbury, and New Hampshire native Jimmy Morgan compete at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden.
Tell me what first piqued your interest in figure skating.
Alex: I have to say, because I was so young when I first started skating, it was my mom. She wanted me to skate in group lessons because we were moving to Duxbury, and in Duxbury they flood the cranberry bogs and they create an ice rink in the winter. So it’s a big activity that the whole town does and she wanted me to be able to skate with everyone. … So she stuck me in skating lessons and I just kept skating; I just never stopped.
Jimmy: I guess I started skating because my grandparents are pretty big skating fans and they had always taken me to ice skating shows at TD Garden. I loved going. Then one of my friends said she was going to do skating lessons, and I decided to do it with her. And then, like Alex, I haven’t stopped since then.
What attracted you both to pairs?
Alex: For me, I did gymnastics, dance, skating … all of those things when I was younger. The last two sports I did were gymnastics and skating, and I ended up picking skating. So I was skating for a while, and Bobby Martin, our coach, inquired to my single’s coach about me trying pairs. And I was very interested in it … it was combining gymnastics with skating which is why I loved it so much. You get to do everything! You get to be up in the air, and thrown around and you still get to perform and wear the pretty dresses.
Jimmy: For me I switched coaches from my coach [in New Hampshire] to Bobby and he basically said you’re a tall kid, you’re a little scrawny, but that can be fixed, and he wanted me to try and start lifting girls. I started skating with Alex. I think what attracted it to me in the beginning was sharing ice with someone else. I had always been a really, really nervous competitor, and I think sharing the ice with someone helped alleviate some of the tension.
When you first met each other, was there an instant connection or did it take a while to mesh?
Alex: So I was 16 years old, and Jimmy just turned 17 years old. I was so outgoing and bubbly and he was so quiet. He was shy, and he didn’t even talk to me for the first year of our partnership. We were basically all business in the beginning but as soon as Jimmy started talking to me we became best friends.
Jimmy: I was in a shy phase and I guess I grew out of it. This is our fifth season together.
What is your training routine like?
Jimmy: We [practice] Monday through Friday. We skate for three hours on the ice, and that’s broken up into two hours of pairs practice and the one hour of single practice, which is focusing on things we can practice by ourselves. And then we go off ice and do strength training exercises, and physical therapy to keep us healthy.
How do you train differently in an Olympics year?
Alex: Ice is ice. A competition is a competition. It’s just a different label. You have to keep the same schedule and do what you do best.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of pairs skating?
Jimmy: If you’ve never done pairs, and you’re trying to get into it, it’s basically separate skills that you have to learn. Just skating side by side with someone is completely different than going by yourself. And I think single skaters have the luxury to maneuver and change up their routines which is something that pairs skaters really can’t do. We need to stick to the plan because we have two minds working at it instead of one. I would also say you really have to know how to work with another human being. I think the skating part will come, but you have to be respectful to another person, because it’s about the team instead of about yourself.
Alex: I completely 100 percent agree. Having the same goals and wanting to do the best as you can as a team, I think that sometimes people have different views how to get there. So it’s always important to be open, respectful, to listen and be patient. And to be the best as you can as a team.
Jimmy: Everyone makes the joke that it’s like a marriage, and I think it honestly is. It’s a mutual respect for another person, you’re working towards a common goal and there has to be chemistry.
What do you find the most rewarding?
Alex: The most rewarding is definitely when you nail something, and you do it right together. That was awesome, that was worth it. You’re not only proud of yourself, you’re proud of your partner. It’s magic when it happens.
Jimmy: I can’t even imagine being a single’s skater anymore because I almost feel that an experience isn’t worth having if you can’t share it with someone.
What goes through your minds the minutes before you are set to perform?
Alex: We always say to each other, “Breathe and try everything.”
If someone wanted to become an ice skater, what are the things they need to think about?
Jimmy: If there is an interest in skating, I’d say go out and give it a try. I wouldn’t have known I liked skating unless I tried it.
Alex: You’re never going to land that jump if you don’t try. You have to go for it.
How excited are you to be performing in Boston at TD Garden for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships?
Alex: Words can’t even describe how excited we are. We are so thrilled to be in our hometown performing, it’s just incredible.
Jimmy: Even just being able to say we competed against the people who went to the Olympics is cool. I don’t know for Alex, but especially for me, growing up around Boston and going to the TD Garden and seeing the Bruins … it will be cool because your family will be going to see you at TD Garden, not the Bruins.
Figure skaters from the Skating Club of Hingham asked:
What is your favorite food to eat? – Grace S., age 6, Cohasset
Jimmy: That’s such a great question. You are talking to two people who are obsessed with food. I’ll answer first and it’s whatever is in front of me, I’ll eat.
Alex: He’s not even joking.
Jimmy: I eat every half hour, every hour if I’m skating. I love food.
Alex: I would have to say Italian food is probably my favorite. My go-to is spaghetti and meatballs. We both really like all sorts of dairy products.
What’s your favorite skating costume? – Anna R., age 6, Scituate
Alex: All of my costumes are like my children, I can’t really pick one!
What is your favorite music to skate to and to listen to? – Lise T., age 8, Cohasset
Jimmy: Our genre has to be a love story type of song. We also like to change it up and skate to fast skate programs. Last year we did “You’re the One that I Want” and “Grease Lightning” from Grease. Basically anything you can dance to or be in love to.
Alex: We both like top 40, we like country we like alternative rock. We like everything.
How much do you train off the ice? – Sydnie L., age 12, Scituate
Jimmy: We train for about an hour and a half to two hours off the ice, warmups, workouts and post workout stretching.
Alex: If you think about it, we’re always training. When we’re sleeping, when we’re eating, when we’re doing something other than skating to take our minds off of it, we’re always training in a sense.
What do you do to have fun when you’re not skating? – Andrew, age 6
Alex: We are both very athletic people so even on the weekends we like to go hiking and to be outside. Shopping is fun and I love playing with my puppy.
Jimmy: I’ve always said that my ideal Sunday is when it’s raining outside and you don’t feel like going anywhere. You just stay in your pajamas all day and watch movies. And eat, of course. A little of unwinding time is always great especially when training.