The Richmond Olympic Oval one week. Mexico City the next.
Such is the life of Joey Russell since he launched the new chapter of his skating career as a leading edge choreographer. The 27-year-old Newfoundland native retired from competitive skating following the 2011 World Championships. He then spent some time on a ice show tour and has taken the best from both worlds to his new profession.
Russell is based out of the world-renowned Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club but spends much of his time travelling to skating clubs across North America and beyond to provide his expertise. Among his regular stops is Connaught Skating.
He spent a few days in Richmond working with some of the club’s top competitive skaters and catching up with his good friend — Connaught’s Director of Programs Keegan Murphy.
“Keegan and I used to compete against each other, said Russell. “When he found out I was doing this he asked if I would be interested. I really enjoy working with his kids.”
Russell’s task was putting choreography packages together for skater as they being preparation for the 2016 season.
“This is a really busy time of year for me,” he continued. “The way the competition season works, it’s during the summer and fall when everyone competes. This time of year, they want new solos and choose their music and costumes. I work together with coaches and skaters (to put together a package). It’s up to them to work on it through the summer. The ultimate goal for these skaters is to get to national and international events with these programs.”
Russell’s “break” came when he was approached by the Cricket Club’s Brian Orser if he was interested in doing choreography for a couple of solos. Orser is now considered one of the top coaches in the world after a brilliant competitive career.
“The cricket club is my base and it has such a good reputation,” he said. “I’m so lucky to be there and it has taken me to so many places.”
Russell will make a return visit to Richmond sometime in the spring to check on the skaters’ progress. It’s up to the Connaught coaches to continue the presentations he has helped put together.
“Honestly, the team is good at keeping up with the choreography and looking the way it was when we first set it up with the skater,” he said. “I’m definitely okay leaving it in their hands. I can’t be everywhere all the time."
Russell wrapped up his four-day stay at Connaught then headed back to Toronto for a brief stop before working with skaters in Mexico.