In the beginning...
Dan started skating at the age of four. His mother brought him to the roller rink to skate with his older sister’s Brownie troop. Since he liked it so much, his mother bought him a pair of hockey skates from a garage sale (the ice rink was closer to home than the roller rink) and enrolled him in lessons. A year later, he went to his first Champions On Ice (COI) show and laughed at Scott Hamilton, who skated in a chicken suit. “How cool would that be to make people laugh like that,” he thought.
Still wearing his hockey skates, doing barrel jumps instead of the required bunny hops for the basic skills test (bunny hops use toe picks, which are only on figure skates), Dan had an important decision to make… hockey or figure skating? He remembers watching a commercial in which the cut up, mean face of a hockey player was the focus. As it slowly zoomed it, the player cracked a toothless smile. “Boy, if I played hockey, I would look like that, and no girl would ever marry me!” So, at the age of 5, Dan picked figure skating, which is good because he could only outrun the huge hockey players for so long before his 5’2” frame would be crushed.
World Team Member and Professional Champion
For the next couple of years, Dan skated for fun, competed, and ran through all the test levels. He could do his homework, play, and skate four or five hours a day since time management is one of his strengths. Once, at the age of 14, he quit for two months. After realizing he wasn’t missing out on any play time since his friends were normal and procrastinated on all their chores, and missing the feeling of zipping around the ice, Dan came back to skating.
With many hours of hard work, Dan achieved a double axel through triple axel in one year at the age of 16. (If you’re new to skating, “double axel through triple axel” is actually a series of jumps: double axel, triple salchow, triple toe, triple loop, triple flip, triple lutz, and triple axel.) At the time, he was one of the few who could do a triple axel-triple loop combination. Although Dan has always been one to battle consistency, he nonetheless won a national medal, silver, in ’92 as a Junior. In ’96 he placed third at the Senior level, earning a spot on the World Team; he placed tenth at the Worlds, followed by another national Bronze medal and World Team member in '97. Dan represented St. Clair Shores FSC during this time.
When he placed third at the U.S. Senior Nationals, Dan caught the eye of Tom Collins, the owner of COI. Dan slung a mop to his janitor routine and got the laughter he had always wanted to hear. His 14-show invitation turned into 47. He performed with Champions on Ice as a full cast member for nearly a decade before it closed in 2008. He currently performs in different gigs throughout the world.
In the next few years his determination to compete at the amateur level just wasn’t there. He realized that his whole motivation to skate in the first place was to perform in shows and make people laugh. He entered and won the 2000 American Open Professional Championship. Never looking back, Dan left the amateur ranks and took the professional skating world by storm. Never before had there been a skater who had had this much success in the professional world without having a national gold medal or a World or Olympic medal.
Dan has been teaching part-time since 1989. Learning patience for teaching from his father, he enjoys helping others reach their goals. He continually refines his teaching technique by asking questions of the top champions on tour and incorporating into his own teaching the suggestions and techniques they learned from their coaches. Because of his love of coaching, Dan has created his “Skate Like a Pro” seminars, in which he and other top professionals teach skaters of all ages.