In this issue of Big World, we caught up with Bermudian figure skater, Vanessa James. The three-time Olympian talks to RG Magazine about bicoastal living, her inspirations and dreams, and recently becoming the 2018 Olympic Bronze Medallist.
Where do you live?
I train in both Wesley Chapel, Florida and Paris France; and during the season, from October to March, I’m in a different country every two to three weeks.
We know that Bermuda will always be home, but what is your favourite city?
I miss Bermy, most of my family is there, but I really love Europe. My favourite city is Paris. I just love the architecture – the old castles, churches, not to mention the food and the cheese. We don’t get to experience that in the US.
What is your schedule like?
Pretty busy! We train from 9 AM to 4 PM, with a few breaks in between. The hardest part is travelling so much during the season.
Your greatest achievement to date?
For most, the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have been lucky enough to experience three! I would have to say my biggest achievement is, with my partner, becoming the 2018 Olympic World Bronze Medallist.
What do you enjoy the most about the Olympics?
I love the coming together of all different sports and disciplines in one country. Cheering on your fellow countrymen. Also, the fact that it not only brings athletes together, it brings the world together. Wars and politics seem to stop, and it’s all about the Olympics, hard work, determination and dreams coming true.
Who inspires you?
My coaches. They have families and hardships that they never talk to us about, but they come the rink every day with smiles on their faces. They continue to try to make us, not only the best athletes, but the best people that we can be, prepare us for the rink, and for life, really. What they don’t realise is that we learn by example and they are some of the greatest examples of kindness, empathy, passion and determination.
Who do you hope to inspire?
Most people believe in what they see. I never saw other black figure skaters growing up. Although I’m proud to have come so far without that idol, I hope to make it easier for other young girls that look similar to me, to believe in themselves and in their dreams. To believe their parents when they tell them that anything is possible.
What’s next for you?
My short-term goal is to be in the podium at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. My long-term goal is to win 2018 European Championships and World Championships.
If you were not a figure skater, what would you be?
I would be a tennis player or a paediatrician. I love children!
24 hours in Paris
The best place to eat healthy food
I feel like most places in Paris are healthy. In France and in Europe, in general, the portion size is considerably smaller. The meat laws are stricter. I often lose weight quickly when I am in Paris without trying.
The best place to train
At my home rink in Bercy, Paris. About 15 metres away from the rink is a sports and medical school. We train there off the ice, and we can get treated for any pain or injuries we may have.
The best place to experience
The best experience I had in Paris was when my partner surprised me and took me to the Eiffel Tower for the first time. We went all the way to the top – an absolutely breath-taking moment.
The best spot for shopping
The best place for shopping is on the Champs-Élysées. It has anything that you’re looking for, great shopping with an even better view.
The best place to wander off the beaten path
Le Marais. It’s a cute and chic place for pedestrians only and has these charming cobblestone roads. It has small unique clothing boutiques, cool lounges and amazing restaurants.