Nam Nguyen: “It’s going to be a great Nationals this year.”

Nam Nguyen
Photo by Maria Kateshova

The 2019 Skate Canada International is the second event of the 2019–20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.  It will be held at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia from October 25–27. The 2014 World Junior champion, 2014 Skate America bronze medallist and a two-time Canadian national champion (2015, 2019) Canada’s Nam Nguyen is among the competing skaters.

He talks about his university studies, tough competition at Nationals, Worlds in Canada, touring with Stars on Ice, and more.

Apart from being a competitive skater, you’re also a student, and you coach kids in your free time. How do you manage to make time for all of the activities?

My coach and I, we just build the schedule around for the year and we try to be smart with what to do. Obviously the priority is training first, and then school, and then, if I have time and I have enough energy, I can coach. At the same time, I rarely have time off during the week. I’m very busy throughout the entire day.

So how do you balance education and training? How often do you have to go to university?

Yes, so now I’m in university, I’m in the health studies program. The beauty of university is that you pick your own schedule to go to school. This semester, I have two courses, both of them are online, and so it’s really easy for me not to go to the actual class. I can stay at the rink and do my homework, which makes life a little bit easier.

For next semester, we’re going to think about what to do and maybe go to actual classes, to create a bigger balance between skating and education.

Is there any extra pressure now that you’re a reigning national champion?

Not really. We have so many great guys in Canada now, and a lot of our junior guys are upcoming, but it doesn’t put any pressure on me. It kind of motivates me to work even harder to try to catch up to them because they’re all doing their best. It’s going to be a great Nationals this year, and it’s going to be fun.

This year, the World Championships will be held in Canada, your home country. When you skate in front of the home crowd, does it help you to perform your best?

For me personally, I always feel the support from the fans out there, whether it be in Canada or in other countries. It’s definitely an added bonus to be representing Canada in Canada at the World Championships. It’s going to be a great time if I get to go. 

Competition is pretty tough since there is only one men’s berth for Canada. What’s your training and competition strategy to make sure you’ll do your best at Nationals and qualify for Worlds?

Honestly, we’re just taking it day by day, week by week. We’re not really looking towards Montreal at all. We’re just being smart with our training and we want to make sure that we deliver our best efforts every single day. By the time Nationals comes around, I should be  ready to go. The only thing on my mind should be to do my best, and whatever happens afterwards, happens.

This year you have two Grand Prix assignments, in Canada and Russia. You’ve already competed in Moscow two times. What can you say about the organization in general and about  the audience? Did you have a chance to explore Moscow during your previous visits? If so, what’s your favourite place?

Moscow is a great city. I always love skating in Russia, and it’s a really beautiful city. I think the fans there are so knowledgeable and so supportive of everybody. The organizers and volunteers of the event do a great job to make sure that we feel good so that we can skate our best out there. It’s definitely going to be exciting and I’m excited to come back to Russia and skate for the fans there.

As for Moscow, I’ve only been to Red Square. Red Square is pretty nice, hopefully I get to have an opportunity to visit around Moscow a little bit more.

This summer you were invited on the Stars on Ice tour. How did you like the whole experience?

It’s been a long-time dream of mine to perform on the tour and to be able to share the ice with Olympic champions and world champions every day. I learned so much from that tour, and I had way too much fun. It was a great experience. I’ve taken a lot of it, and I’ve a lot of lessons over there, and I’ve applied it to my own skating.

What are your main goals for this season?

I think it’s just to put out skates that I can be proud of every time I compete.

Thank you so much for the interview. Good luck!

Ludmila ORLOVA