by Cara Zanella | Photo by Daphne Backman
They met in February 2013 and struck up an instant friendship. They admit they have very similar personalities describing themselves as easy going, possessing a strong work ethic, and the love of laughter and life. Together, they hope to move up in the rankings and make their mark in history competing at the senior level in international ice dancing.
Alexa Linden & Addison Voldeng found themselves without partners in February 2015. The two ice dancers were actively conducting tryouts with other skaters when they decided to simply skate a few laps together.
“It felt good, smooth as butter,” Linden said. “So, we just built it up from there.”
“Alexa and I started skating together because we were both looking for a partner at the same time, and we got along really well, so we gave it a shot. We found that we skated really well together,” Voldeng said.
The team recently won gold at the Summer Skate competition in British Columbia, Canada and are the Saskatchewan senior ice dance champions two years running. Voldeng is originally from Saskatchewan and Linden was born in Calgary. He represents the Saskatoon Figure Skating Club and she represents the Champs International Skating Centre of British Columbia. The team trains at Burnaby 8-rinks in BC, under the guidance of coaches Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe.
Voldeng, 22, started his love of skating when he was six years old and quickly progressed to ice dancing when he was eight.
“Honestly, I got into ice dance because I was skating in a small town and I was a boy so I was basically told ‘Addison you’re going to skate with this girl’ and I said ‘Okay’ and it just went from there.”
Linden, 21, started her journey on ice at the young age of two. Her goal was to be a freestyle skater like her idol, Michele Kwan.
“A rink opened in my hometown and my mother signed me up for Learn to Skate lessons,” Linden recalled. “I guess I had been watching skating on TV, so my thought was that I was going out onto the ice and would be able to jump and fly with the best of them. The reality of this came crashing down on me once I was on the ice and realized I couldn’t stand up.”
Linden said she began competing in singles and pairs, but one day, while in Sun Valley, decided to take a few lessons from Judy Blumberg, a U.S. ice dancer who was a 3-time World medalist and five-time U.S. national champion with partner Michael Seibert.
“I absolutely loved it,” Linden said. “I started taking ice dancing and started testing. I think I had my gold dance medals by the time I was 12 or 13.”
Voldeng credits his coaches for having the greatest influence on his skating.
“Obviously, my coaches have had the greatest influence on my skating, and my parents have also been a huge area of support and motivation,” Voldeng said. “One skater, in particular, had a big influence on me was Rudi Swiegers, a four-time Canadian national bronze medalist. Coming from Saskatchewan, he was a big role model to me as a skater and when I was growing up. He inspired me to keep skating during some tough years.”
Linden says she is very lucky to receive support from a variety of people in her life including her family, friends, coworkers, past coaches, and judges.
“I am very lucky that I have so many positive people encouraging me from the time I was little to now,” said Linden.
When not skating, Linden likes to cook while Voldeng likes biking. Both enjoy board games and reading. In addition to their demanding skating schedules, the skating team is attending Simon Fraser University with Voldeng majoring in Psychology and Linden majoring in Kinesiology.
The team trains on the ice Monday through Friday five hours a day, works with a trainer twice a week, and takes four hours a week of off ice dance classes.
“Skating has always been a place where I feel centered,” said Linden. “If I’m having a bad day and I go to the rink and do a few laps, I instantly feel better. My motivation has always been to try to be better than yesterday.”
Voldeng agrees saying skating motivates him.
“Skating makes me feel invigorated, energized, and happy,” said Voldeng. “It’s these feelings that motivate me to wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning to get on the ice.”
The team plans to compete in the Canadian Nationals in January and hopes to be able to compete in the Winter Universiade Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan in late January. The Winter Universiade is an international multi-sport event that is organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and is open to student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 28. Both Linden & Voldeng are third year, full-time students at Simon Fraser University.
In order to compete at the Winter Universiade, Linden & Voldeng will need to raise $15,000, which includes the cost of paying for their coach and a Canadian judge to travel with them. They have created a website (alexaaddison.com), a Facebook fan page and a GoFundMe campaign to help defray the costs.