Jacksonville skating coaches share a unique bond
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ice skating is one of the most watched sports in the Winter Olympics and Jacksonville has some of the best coaches.
Olympic coaches Mary and Evy Scotvold and Karl Kurtz train students at Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex. So do National Champions Alex and Michelle Aiken. The Aikens have a special bond both on and off the ice.
They started skating for different reasons. Alex's interest started watching the 1998 Winter Olympics, and Michelle's mom was a skater. They have the same passion for skating and now they have the same last name. They met a few years ago here at Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex.
"Alex moved here to train and I was coaching here. We'd always kind of known of each other from other competitions because at Nationals we'd see each other," says Michelle.
"Then I started coaching here. And I met Michelle, and we started working together. Then we developed a relationship off the ice, and that grew into now she's my wife," says Alex.
What better way to propose than at the place they met and with their students. Alex got up really early to teach their students a number for six weeks. They performed it at the annual Christmas show.
"I was so surprised, I had no idea and I couldn't believe that he was able to get all of our kids in that early and keep a secret for that long, so that was kind of cool," says Michelle.
Now, this duo takes advantage of their different strengths -- giving what they think is a great training experience for their students.
"It's really nice to work with somebody who has a different eye than you. He's really technical. And I'm more the artistic one," says Michelle.
"I'm a big fan of the jumps and spins, and the things that are very straight forward and she's very good with the second mark aspect of it, making the programs beautiful," says Alex.
"Together it works out because without each other I think we would miss out on those key elements," says Michelle. "I know a lot of people say is it hard to be together that much? And it's not, it's a lot of fun working together and it doesn't make it coming to work, you know, it doesn't feel like a job."
In addition to coaching, Alex still trains, and hopes to make it to the Winter Olympics in 2018.