Olympic Ice Dancer
Kaitlyn Weaver is the picture of class and elegance, which comes as no surprise when you learn she's an accomplished Olympic Ice Dancer. It was a joy to sit down with her for this interview and talk about everything from the strong women she's inspired by, to staying in the moment. Make sure to watch her (and her partner) perform this week at the Skate Canada National Ice Skating Championships
What do you do?
Hello, I’m Kaitlyn Weaver and I’m an Olympic Ice Dancer. I always dreamed of being a figure skater, I loved to perform, I loved the costumes when I was young, and I loved being an elite athlete. I always thought that was the dream. So, for me being able to do what I do is really a childhood dream materialised. I get to travel, dance and have fun and perform for living and I think that’s a pretty cool job.
Why do you do what you do?
I think that my reason "why" has changed through the years honestly. When I was younger I did it simply because I liked it, that’s always being a common thread. I loved growing, I loved the progress, I loved to see how much I could push myself. Then it became wanting to be the best, and then when that was getting closer then it was wanting to make my family proud, and then it was to make my country proud when we started competing on the world stage, and all of these things kind of interlace within each other. I think underneath it all now it’s to see just how far I can get, to see what I’m capable of, and to push my limits, and really since this journey has been so long, (20+ years now) it’s to finish it, and have no regrets at the end, that’s grown into the reason why.
Who are some women inspire you?
Oh gosh, so many, I’m so fortunate to say that there have been so many women in my life that have inspired me, starting with my Mum, I mean she taught me to have confidence in myself to always give everything a fair shot, to always give it my all, and if it doesn’t work, that’s okay and I can move onto something else. I think that was a very important lesson at a young age - that I could do anything I wanted, not all girls grow up knowing that they can do that.
In sport, Shae Lynn Bourne was my idol since I was little. I loved her go-getter attitude, she's so positive, so full of light, I really modelled my future self after her when I was younger. I think that my sports psychologist Sandra Stark has had a huge impact on my life and my career, she’s so wise, smart, and so down to earth. She’s also taught me how to grow into the women I would like to be, in and out of sport. I could go on and on and on about people that have influenced me, I love to kind of take what I like and really form the best version of myself that I can, but I think those three in particular have been impactful.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about a lot of things to be honest. I love friendships, I love connecting with people, I think that would be one of the first things. I love finding peoples expression, if people express themselves through music, through art, through sport. I love to know what makes people tick. I love what I do, I’m very passionate about figure skating and I always have been. I love people are going after their own destiny, and I love to do that myself. I’m very passionate about following your journey and finding the reason why you were put on this earth. That’s a little bit deep, but that really guides me in my life.
What’s the most helpful or impactful piece of advice someone has given you?
This sounds cliche, and I didn’t understand it until you have to go through it, but really enjoying the ride. It’s so easy to say, and so hard to do sometimes, especially if you’re a competitive person and if you’re in an area of your life where you can be measured. But, being grateful for what you have, kind of taking a step back from your life and seeing it from a different perspective, and seeing your journey and seeing how far you came from where you before, in any area of your life. Even if you’re wiser than the day before, if you learn a lesson, it’s been able to appreciate how far you’ve grown between one day to the next, one year to the next, that I think helps you to appreciate every day, and be grateful for the little things along your journey that help guide you. That’s being something I’ve been able to understand through the years. First time I heard it, I was like “what, enjoy the ride, yeah okay”, it’s so easy to just take it in one ear and out the other, but looking back I really understand it now
The next thing would be finding your self worth, being able to define what success means to you. It’s not usually going to be in the form of something material, whether it be a house, a car, a medal, and this ties into being able to enjoy the ride. It’s being able to see what you possess inside, and finding that success within, that will probably end up bring you all of those extra things, like possessions or whatever it is. It’s finding that first, within yourself. Again, something that’s easier said than done, in my opinion. Those are two things that have impacted me in great way through my life as I’ve gotten older.
Are there challenges you've faced specifically because you're a woman?
I think in most sports, most of them are male dominated, even in something like figure skating, the ISU (International Skating Union) our overarching federation, there’s more men. You can see sometimes even in the coaching, if we go to a coaches meeting, most of the coaches are men dominating the discussion. A lot of times, I feel more comfortable if I’m with Andrew, if we’re doing something together. I feel that people will listen to us more if we’re together as opposed to just me. I also did this little test where I wore less makeup for a certain amount of time, I wanted to see if people treated me differently versus if I tried harder to put more makeup on, I thought it was really interesting, and I absolutely saw more respect given based on how I looked, not even how I dressed, but based on if I put makeup on. Which I thought was so interesting, and I wonder why that it is and I haven’t really figured it out yet. I don’t know if it’s an effort thing, or if people respect more (with women) based on how they look or the level of respect varies.
I definitely think it (sexism) is palpable, but I was brought up in a very matriarchal family, and I’ve grown up knowing that I want to be a strong woman and that I “don’t need no man”. I want to be strong, I want to be taken seriously and I do believe that you need to teach people how to treat you, and so I think that has given me the strength to fight for what I believe in and not feel necessary dominated in a male dominated world, not even sport, but world. I think it’s a constant struggle for women, but I think that not giving up and really being relentless in our demand for respect is helping to push everybody forward in an equal way.
What is your advice for girls and women everywhere?
I think to always follow you heart, and follow your instinct. I think that we know what we’re capable of and that if we have a dream and a vision and can see ourselves going after that crazy dream, which is almost always crazy, you know. No one ever has their deep down dreams of being somethings that’s very close, easy to accomplish, it’s always that crazy dream. You’ve got to go after it. You owe it to yourself to chase the crazy dream, and follow your heart and find that thing that makes you tick and go after it. There’s going to be obstacles, there’s going to be things that may slow you down, that make you feel a little discouraged, but there are going to be things where you win too. It’s being able to still infuse that drive inside and really stop at nothing to follow what you dream for yourself.
Kaitlyn Weaver is an Olympic Ice Dancer currently based in New Jersey, USA. Together with her partner Andrew Poje, she is a two-time World medalist (2014 silver, 2015 bronze), a two-time Four Continents champion (2010, 2015), a two-time Grand Prix Final champion (2014–15, 2015–16), and a two-time Canadian national champion (2015, 2016). She also describes herself as a professional optimist, olympic dramatist, and an enthusiastic linguist.