"I know in my heart it is my time to move on"
Jordan Alexander has skated with the biggest U.S. teams like Haydenettes and Skyliners. (Credits: Roy Ng Photography)
At the age of 24, the synchronized skater Jordan Alexander retired from skating after 19 seasons of synchronized skating and 12 years representing Team USA. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, the athlete who has been living in the greater New York City area for three years, plans to stay highly involved in the sport.
Jordan Alexander: I started skating at a local rink with my older sister and some neighborhood friends when I was 4. The rink had numerous synchro teams and after a couple of months of group classes, I was able to join their youngest team. Synchro was very much just a hobby of mine, but I started to take it more seriously once I began cross-skating with our club's Novice team. That year I found out we would represent Team USA at the 2008 Leon Lurje Trophy. It was the last year Novice skaters from the U.S. would compete internationally, and it became a pivotal point in my career as it sent me on the path to where we are today.
This past year was my 19th season of synchronized skating and my 12th year representing Team USA. I've most recently skated for Skyliners Senior ('18-'20) and had the honor of being a part of the first Skyliners Senior team to qualify for the World Championships. Prior to that, I skated for the Haydenettes for three seasons and Starlights Senior (now Starlights Junior).
When I first found out the World Championships would be canceled this year, I was heartbroken. We built our programs at the arena where the event was to be held and throughout the season I would visualize performing to a sold-out crowd. Not having that chance was understandably devastating, but it was the right decision for society. Since then, I've found peace in the situation and have been enjoying stress-free time with my family.
Why did you choose not to continue skating?
I've had an amazing career that has allowed me to perform in every event a synchronized skater could dream of - the World Championships, Shanghai Trophy, Grand Prix Final, Stars on Ice, and every annual international. For multiple years I was able to compete with, and as we got older, against my older sister. Even though I had the chance to experience the joy that comes with the biggest events, the one thing I always felt was missing was the chance to skate with my younger sister. This past year I finally had that opportunity and now I feel I have truly accomplished everything I could ever want to.
Yes and no. With worlds being canceled, the end came sooner than expected. I wish I had that final opportunity to sing Defying Gravity on the top of my lungs, give my teammates those final hand squeezes, and tell them how proud I am of them. However, those final moments never came and I had to come to terms with that. Besides that, retiring was something I knew I was going do after this season and I tried to proactively plan for it the best I could. I've seen a lot of athletes leave of sport and experience a sense of identity loss upon retiring. Leading up to retirement, I explored multiple ways to make the transition easier including having a full-time job to focus on and finding a new hobby to fill some of the open time.
It's hard to pick one because there are so many moments I look back at and just smile. My favorite memory has to be my first competition with the team though. We were in Anaheim, California and had just finished completing our short program. Scores were not announced after the skate, but as we were leaving the locker room we found out we had won. Everyone's reaction was pure joy. It was the most authentic kiss and cry moment I've ever been a part of.
What did this sport teach you in your life?
Like most sports, synchronized skating taught me teamwork, persistence, accountability, and commitment. All things that are great to talk about in an interview or put on a resume, but are not particularly lessons unique to synchro. That aside, there is one lesson I learned through the sport that has had a significant impact on my life. It taught me how to respond when life doesn’t go as planned. There are 32 blades on the ice at any time. In an instant, something can happen that you never see coming and you get knocked down. Synchro teaches you how to pick yourself up, jump back in, and move on like nothing has happened (all without breaking composure). To anyone that is struggling with the uncertainty of this current time, remember that if you get knocked down, synchro has already taught you how to get back up.
I don’t know how I could not miss it. It takes a long time to become the successful athlete you want to be and it will take a long time to come away from that. There will always be a part of me that will wish I could go back and do it all again. As much as I'll miss it though, I know in my heart it is my time to move on.
Are you thinking about staying involved in the sport?
Although I am still uncertain about my final plans, I hope to start trial judging and coaching this coming year. I have already signed up to trail judge and have a mentor to help me through the process. Additionally, I had the chance to do some guest coaching last year. Once team practices are allowed to start back up, I am hoping to do more of that.
The greater New York City area have over 300,000 cases. Recently, things have started to improve with new daily cases declining over the past few weeks. The rinks near Chicago opened a couple of weeks ago and rinks in Connecticut were allowed to open this past week.
Long before I retired, I started to think about how I could channel all the energy I put into skating into something else. I needed to find something I was passionate about, but also fulfilled my desire to learn and challenge myself. My career in private equity has been that outlet so far. I'm also hoping to start speed skating once things fully re-open later this summer. I have been inline skating in the meantime and it has been terrific. It's close enough to skating that I don’t feel like a beginner, but different enough that it’s a new learning curve and I feel like I'm learning a new skill.
My experience would not have been possible without the team of coaches, trainers, friends, and family who encouraged me to never give up. A big thank you to all the people who helped make my dreams a reality.