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Read Dr. Silby's interview with figure skating champion Michael Weiss.

Caroline Silby interviewed gymnast Monique Chang.

Determining the "recipe " for athletic success is not an easy task.
Dr. Caroline Silby sat down with 1997 World Junior Figure Skating Champion, Sydne Vogel to discuss athletic success, motivation, slumps, comebacks, and body image. Having just celebrated her 21st birthday, this Alaskan native is training to reestablish herself as one of US Figure Skating's top athletes.

As an elite athlete, you have had many accomplishments. Which in your skating career has had the most meaning to you?

I feel that winning the 1997 World Junior Championships was my biggest accomplishment. Winning the 1995 National Junior Ladies event [Sydne beat Tara Lipinski to win the title] was key because that opened the door to the world of international competitions. Yet, my greatest performance (so far) occurred at an international competition in East Germany. I felt like my skates were on fire!

What motivated you to get to the elite level?

While working my way up the competitive ladder, I liked to skate because I loved to jump and skate fast. Competing was the biggest thrill of my life. I would ride my Nordic Track every night while watching videotapes of past World and Olympic competitions. My favorite skater to watch was Madori Ito [Japanese Champion]. I liked her jumping style and watching her excel motivated me to do the same.

What's the best and worst part of being on top of your sport at such a young age?

The best part was the feeling of knowing that I had accomplished something huge and out of the ordinary for myself. Also, I loved the traveling. What more could I ask for than getting to compete all around the world in a sport that I love.

Can you talk about what happened after your win at the World Junior Championships? How did you change mentally and physically?

After I won the World Juniors, I felt like everything I had worked for just came crashing down. I developed terrible shin splints in my right leg. I tried to ignore them and keep skating, but by doing so injured my back. By the time the 1997 Nationals came around, (just 2 months after winning World Juniors) I found it difficult to stroke around the ice. I had to withdraw from the 1997 Nationals. It has been a huge mental and physical struggle for me ever since that point. I have been struggling with my weight and negative thoughts for three years. Recently, I have reached a turning point and finally feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After a break from competing, how has your perspective on skating changed?

After not being able to compete at the 1997 Nationals, having disastrous seasons in '98 and '99, and missing the 2000 season altogether, my perspective on skating really has not changed much. I almost feel like I am learning to skate all over again. It's hard to stop myself from getting down at times because it is a lot harder the second time around.

What have you learned about yourself through the process of "learning to skate all over again?"

I have learned that I am the most persistent person I know.

How does staying in shape change as you go through your teen and young adult years?

For me, staying in shape has been a constant battle throughout my skating career. I was anorexic back in 1995 when I won the National Junior Championships. I am healthier now, but there has never been a time that I actually liked my weight. I still battle my bathroom scale. I am skating more now than I ever have before and I'm really starting to shape up. I am accepting the fact that I will never have the body that I had when I was 15 years old and maybe the one that I am sculpting now is better anyway.

What kind of advice can you give to people who are desperately trying to stick to their fitness routines and stay in shape?

Be consistent and persistent with yourself. Don't expect a magic pill or shakes to work. If all those gimmicks worked, I don't believe America would be so overweight. Since I have tried just about every diet on the market, I would say to do it naturally. That is what is finally working for me.

About Caroline Silby

Caroline Silby, Ph.D., M.Ed holds a Doctorate and Master Degree of Sports Psychology from the University of Virginia. Her specialty is performance enhancement with adolescent athletes and she's worked with Olympic Champions in gymnastics and figure skating. As an elite athlete, Dr. Silby was a member of the National Figure Skating Team. She later served on the U.S. Figure Skating Association Board of Directors and Athlete Advisory Council.

Dr. Silby was appointed to the US Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council, Collegiate Sports Council and Finance Committee. Currently, she assists the Women's Sports Foundation as a member of their Advisory Council and is a faculty member of both the USA Gymnastics and the US Figure Skating Association training camps. Dr. Silby's first book is titled, Games Girls Play and is published by St. Martin's Press. She resides in Washington, D.C. and has an active national practice.

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