Kimmie Meissner lost her jumps and lost her way shortly after winning the 2006 World Championships, leading her to wonder if her figure skating career had peaked at the age of 16.
The year after she won her world title, Meissner slipped to fourth. This year she fell to eighth. Meissner, a delightfully engaging and unaffected young woman, knew something had to change.
"There were a lot of times I had to sit down and ask myself, do I still want to skate?" she said. "I always said 'yes,' because I love it, and that's how I got through it."
Meissner found new inspiration by moving from her home in Bel Air, Md., to Coral Springs, Fla., to work with coach Richard Callaghan. With her confidence restored -- and her jumps nearly back -- she's eager to resume competing, and is looking forward to the 2009 World Championships at Staples Center in March.
After that, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games won't be far off.
"I'm really excited about the season," she said. "I've been working really hard and I hope people can see it. I'm definitely going to be going for one of those spots on the world team this year."
Nothing like being confident. "That's something i've kind of gotten back," she said. "I feel more like myself."
Meissner was among a group of skaters gracing the ice at the Toyota Center in El Segundo Wednesday to practice for a show that will take place Friday at the Galen Center on the USC campus. The McDonald's Family Tribute on Ice, which will feature skaters honoring their loved ones in performances done to live music, will be aired by NBC on Nov. 16. It's designed to promote World Children's Day on Nov. 20 and raise money for children's charities such as Ronald McDonald House.
"Anything that's going to help children I love to do," said Meissner, who will turn 19 on Saturday. "It's so great to be able to give back to the community. We get to do something we love and enjoy ourselves while we're helping children."
Meissner isn't much past childhood herself, but she has taken charge of her life. Feeling stale and unable to progress the past few years, she moved to Florida to work with Callaghan and former U.S. champion Todd Eldredge.