by Abril Ventura | Photos courtesy Ashley Foy Tervoort
Ashley Foy Tervoort is a former competitive ice dancer who represented Germany with her partner Benjamin Blum from 2005 to 2008. She is currently a university lecturer in the Netherlands, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
Originally from the United States, Foy Tervoort started skating at age four and did both singles and pairs before settling on ice dance. Foy Tervoort’s career in ice dance and her sister’s as a pair skater took them all over the United States to find a good fit for both. Eventually, Foy Tervoort settled in Germany at age 15, to skate with Benjamin Blum.
After competing on the Junior Grand Prix circuit, winning the German national junior title, and finishing 13th at the 2008 Junior World Championships, Foy Tervoort and Blum’s career came to an end. Although it was difficult for her to leave her skating life, Foy Tervoort expressed no regrets in how things turned out.
“If I had stayed in Germany, competing [and] skating 2008-2014, I may have been an Olympian, but I would have never built the relationship I had with my father as an adult. Possibly I wouldn’t be a university lecturer living in the Netherlands with the family I have now either, and my skating injuries [would likely] have been even worse than they are now.”
It was thanks to her skating that Foy Tervoort was introduced to her future husband in 2010 by a Berlin training mate. After spending time apart due to studies, Foy Tervoort decided to move to the Netherlands, where she lives now with her husband and daughter, Faye. She keeps her homesickness at bay by visiting her family in North Carolina several times a year.
Apart from her job as a lecturer, Foy Tervoort spends time coaching and as a national singles technical specialist, which means she doesn’t get a lot of sleep between managing both, plus being a mother. This busy life is why she tries to prioritize and always write everything down on her family calendar.
Foy Tervoort does admit to having a hard time leaving her daughter behind to go to work or coach.
She recalls, “When Faye was just over two weeks old, I felt so terribly scared to leave her, but one of my longtime skaters had a Moves in the Field test session coming up. They really wanted a lesson with me before the test, so I went out to the rink at 6:45 am (less than 10 minutes away) and taught her for an hour before rushing back home. I came running back just to find her and my husband still sleeping. She didn’t even notice I had gone and come back, but I was so nervous the whole time!”
Foy Tervoort has taken from her experiences with coaches as a skater, especially those of Galina Zmievskaya and Mathew Gates, and tried to apply their teachings to her students.
“Their humility and the love they both have for skating has inspired me more than anything else. I want to steer my students to skating success, but much more importantly, I want to play a positive role in helping them become kind, hardworking, and well-rounded individuals.”
As a mother, one of the skating moments that has resonated the most with Foy Tervoort has been skaters coming forward with their assault stories in hopes of bringing change to the sport.
“That was really brave of them and figure skating needs a major cultural change,” Foy Tervoort said. I’ve seen some progress, but when abusers are still out there, we need to look closely at how we can fix the system to protect our athletes.”
She added, “It is a difficult situation with a great deal of a gray area, but a worthwhile cause. I care deeply about protecting my daughter in the sport we love and hope to see more positive changes for her generation of skaters, whether she becomes a skater or not. I care deeply for my students, too, and hope to help make our sport better for them.”
Foy Tervoort’s advice for other mothers who balance having a family and staying involved in the skating world can be boiled down to one thing – “A good mom is a happy mom.”
She finds that the happiness that skating brings has helped her become a more patient and nurturing mother.
“Make sure skating isn’t a drain on you, but an uplifting addition to your life. Hopefully, your children will grow to love the sport just like you, and you can share your love of ice!”
In their free time, Foy Tervoort and her family enjoy going on walks and swimming together.