• Aly Leia Wein

Meet Chloe Rose Lewis



What do you do when the thing you've committed your entire life to no longer brings you joy? That was the question that former Team USA ice dancer Chloe Rose Lewis pondered as the sun set on her competitive skating career and rose on a new chapter of her life in Sun Valley, Idaho. Chloe and former partner Logan Bye took their connection, passion, and ethereal edges around the world for almost a decade, earning the titles of 2016 Youth Olympic silver medalists, 2018 junior US national bronze medalists, and 2013 novice US national champions, to name a few. It was so interesting and enlightening to learn about Chloe's career, her unique bond with Logan, and the significance of Sun Valley in her life - read on to get to know this extraordinarily strong and introspective young woman.


QUICK FACTS


Birthday: June 18th, 2000 (18 years old)

Born: Portland, Oregon, USA

Hometown: Portland, Oregon, USA

Currently: Sun Valley, Idaho, USA


Job Title: future college student at the University of Southern California, former Team USA ice dancer

Boots: Harlick

Blades: MK Dance


Chloe and Logan at the 2016 Junior World Figure Skating Championships

(Photo by Richard Marshall, MPR)


QUESTIONS


Q: You grew up in Portland, Oregon, spent summers in Sun Valley, Idaho, and along the way, fell in love with this crazy sport of ice dance. How did figure skating come into your life, and when did you know you wanted to be an ice dancer?

A: The first time I stepped on the ice was actually in Sun Valley on the outdoor ice rink with my family. I loved it immediately. I think the reason that I was initially drawn to skating was because my mom shared her love for it with me, and when we skated together, it was so much fun - she loved the ice and was a skater in her youth and then picked it up again as an adult. We shared a lot of joy on the ice together.


I knew I wanted to be an ice dancer when I was about seven years old, I believe. I had been taking dance lessons as well as freestyle lessons, and I just didn’t really like jumping, but I LOVED being expressive and dramatic and sharing the ice with another person. Even at a young age, I knew I loved the storytelling aspect. Maybe not so explicitly, but in some sense I knew that.


Young Chloe skating in Sun Valley (with her mom showing her the way)


Q: In 2010, a serendipitous meeting at a Sun Valley ice rink led to you and Logan Bye partnering up - but because he lived in Colorado and you lived in Oregon, you actually trained apart half the month and constantly flew back and forth. What was that like, being in a long-distance ice dance partnership from the start?

A: It’s crazy to think how Sun Valley has been such a place of incredible beginnings for me… I haven’t thought about this in so long. Yes, Logan and I met in Sun Valley, and we knew almost immediately that it was a perfect partnership. As soon as we did our first stroking exercise together, our parents (who were watching) and my coach were sort of shocked - we were so young, but it was pretty clear that we were a strong match. However, my family had never planned to pursue a long-distance partnership, as I was so young.


Skating was incredibly important to me from a young age, and my family supported me immensely in pursuing my passions, but this was a very big decision to make. When we were trying to figure out what to do about this partnership, it was super emotional for me because I was SO passionate about it, and I insisted that we find a way to make it work. To me, it wasn’t just about the current season, it was about the future, and I wanted to be with Logan. I’ve always had huge ambitions. At that time, I was 10, I had plans to win the Olympics, and Logan was going to be my partner. My parents supported me, and I am infinitely grateful.


I began splitting my time between Portland and Colorado Springs, training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and my local rink in Portland. Logan did the same, and we both stayed in school and managed the work while we were away. Looking back, it seems so crazy that we took the risk and trained the way we did… there were tons of girls in Colorado that Logan probably could have skated with, but we both felt such a strong connection to this partnership that we knew we wanted it to work. It never even felt like a question to me. It was scary to be away from my family in the beginning, but I grew so close with Logan that he became my safe person wherever we were, and training with him was all that I wanted to do, regardless of the sacrifices. So, to answer your question, training long-distance was difficult in some ways, but I never doubted if it was worth it.


#throwback to the early days of Chloe and Logan's partnership


Q: Becoming novice national champions in your third season together was an external indicator of the innate connection and insatiable work ethic that you and Logan possessed (and no doubt still possess to this day). Can you tell us a bit more about your partnership - and friendship - with Logan and how it has evolved through the years?

A: First of all, thank you so much. I think we both do have a strong work ethic that was cultivated by skating and carries into our lives now. Regarding our relationship, Logan and I grew to be very close very quickly. Probably due to the circumstances of our partnership, all the travel, staying at one another’s homes, and sharing our lives with each other, it was natural for us to become best friends. We truly had (and still have) an irreplaceable bond, on and off the ice. It’s truly difficult to put into words what a nearly 10-year friendship of this kind means. Logan was one of the safest people in my life and was there for me through everything. He is one of the strongest people I know and the most caring, selfless, uniquely wonderful, and unusually kind person. Those who have the privilege to know Logan know all of those things to be true. He is also the most naturally gifted ice skater I have ever seen… it’s actually ridiculous. Not to mention that he was always way better than me at any random game or sport we played, which really got me fired up - we were super competitive with one another and pushed each other, but he is a much better sport than I am, so it always ended well, usually with laughter.


I was lucky enough to spend thousands of hours with Logan and spend the most formative and important times of my life hand in hand with him. Our partnership, I believe, was as great as it gets. We pushed ourselves physically and mentally beyond measure from a young age every day, and I know that’s something that connected us at a level that most people will not experience, especially because of the unique circumstances of our training in the beginning. I don’t want to ramble on forever about my relationship and partnership with Logan because it’s genuinely indescribable, but I will say that I will never have another bond quite like the one I have with Logan. We have spent countless hours laughing so hard we cried and even more simply relishing the incredible sport that we both love so deeply, together. The art that we created - and the physical pursuits we overcame - are something I will always be immensely proud of.


Partners and best friends forever!


Q: After moving across the country to train at Novi Ice Arena under Igor Shpilband, you and Logan switched to Canton and trained under Marina Zoueva. May I ask what prompted the change?

A: This is a bit complex, but in summary, after years of success and growth under Igor and his team, we knew we needed a change in order to reach the next level. Igor helped us to grow from young kids with a bit of talent into elite athletes, growing closer to our goals every day. There came a time when the environment in Novi wasn’t conducive to our growth as athletes and as dancers, and we made the very difficult decision to change coaches. We left Igor with immense gratitude and respect for him.


Marina’s training environment was a big change in the beginning, but it ended up being just what we needed. Marina brought out a new sense of artistry and revived in us a passion for the sport that completely transformed us. Marina’s team is well-rounded and versatile; each coach has amazing technique and perspective and brought out details and aspects of our skating that truly took it to a different level.


Q: Winning silver at the 2016 Youth Olympics had to be one of the highlights of your young career - what are some of your favorite memories of that very special event, and what impact did that experience have on you both as a skater and person?

A: The Youth Olympics were truly amazing. It was such a fun time and fulfilling culmination to that phase of our career, and it felt like I could taste what I had been working towards for so long. Every little success during training is always wonderful and motivating, as are strong competitions throughout regular seasons, but nothing lit my fire quite like the Youth Olympic Games in Norway. It was amazing to be surrounded by young elite athletes of all different disciplines and meet people who had taken alternative life paths as we had in order to pursue their sports. It felt like a celebration of sport and all that we had accomplished in our career together until that point.


2016 Youth Olympic silver medalists Chloe and Logan!


Q: After winning bronze at 2018 Junior Nationals and putting forth a strong showing at Junior Worlds, you decided to step back from your elite skating career and pursue other interests. What made you decide to stop skating, and how hard was it to leave something that you had dedicated your entire life to?

A: Wow, this is really hard to answer. In some ways, I don’t really know the full answer myself. About a year ago, around this time, I started to feel very burnt out. I cannot explain to you how it happened, because we had just had one of the greatest seasons of our career, we were improving rapidly, and loved our training environment and coaches. Every athlete goes through phases of feeling super passionate and excited to feeling dead and unmotivated, so I powered through and continued training. We were choreographing for the next season, and I loved our programs more than any we had done (other than our last free dance). There was this weird feeling I had on the ice in which I wanted so badly to continue, to feel passionate again and to become the skater I had worked so hard to become, but I didn’t feel like it was me. I felt out of place in a way, which was weird. I always felt comfortable on the ice, and it had always been my place of expression and release, but I was feeling suffocated. I really don’t know how this began, but it continued to increase until I couldn’t hold it in.


Through a very emotional and long process, with support from our coaches and from Logan that I will never forget, I made the decision to step away. It was by far the hardest decision I have ever made. It’s very hard to describe the pain that I struggled through; as I did make this decision for myself, it didn’t make sense for it to be so painful and emotional. For the sake of being completely honest, I’ll admit that this interview is really emotional for me right now. Logan - and skating - had been the most important thing in my life throughout my most transformative years. Our adventures throughout the years, and all the day-to-day shenanigans, were the happiest thing I knew, and I didn’t understand what I was feeling and how something I loved so much was causing me so much pain in a sense. This sounds dramatic, but it’s not only the sport itself, but all the years of my life that had been spent doing it, the friendships made… and so much more. But, I’ve found freedom in life beyond skating, and although it is still hard for me to revisit, I am indescribably grateful for everything that skating gave me, and I know that I would not be who I am today without it.


Q: After retiring from skating, you moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, to finish out high school. Why did you choose Sun Valley, and what exciting things have you been up to this past year?

A: Something I really hadn’t thought about until today and your first question is how Sun Valley has been a place of beginnings for me throughout my life. Where I first stepped on the ice, first met Logan, and finally, where I began my life after skating. I don’t know what it was specifically, but it has always been this safe, wonderful haven in my life, and I knew I needed to come here. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious I knew it was my place of new beginnings and the start of everything wonderful in my life, and I came back for another beginning.


Chloe x Sun Valley


Q: What are your thoughts and feelings toward your choice to stop skating, now that the 2018-19 season is over and you've been off competitive ice for a year - do you miss it, are you relieved to be away from it, or a mixture of both?

A: When I wake up everyday, I never feel the desire to step on the ice or to go train. I have definitely been very happy in my life off the ice, and although I’ve stepped on the ice a few times for fun, I have had no strong pull to get back on. The nature of ice dance is that it’s a very emotional sport because it requires such a strong investment and connection to your partner, to the music, and to a physical expression of emotion - this is something I do miss. I have yet to find a significant outlet for my artistry, and I don’t know that I’ll ever replace the magic that ice dance creates and cultivates within; the ability to express emotion through physical movement is truly special, and I know that I will be taking dance classes in the future to find a similar outlet. So that is definitely something I miss about the sport. I don’t necessarily feel relieved to be away from it, but there are certainly aspects of the figure skating world that I have been grateful to part with. So, to answer your question… I miss some things about skating and am relieved to be away from other things, but generally it is very complex, and my feelings evolve as I continue my life outside of skating.


Q: You're all set to start college at the University of Southern California in the fall, which is so exciting! What are you thinking of studying, and what made you choose USC? #FightOn

A: Yes! I am very excited. I applied to the Philosophy, Politics, and Law major, as I have a vast range of interests, and I felt that this would encompass many of them and allow for me to delve into different areas of thought and education. I don’t know if I’ll end up changing majors as many students do, but that’s the plan for now. USC was one of my top choices throughout the application process, and when I received my letter of admission, I felt ecstatic and immediately felt like it was where I wanted to be. I always follow my intuition and trust my gut, and that’s kinda what it told me. I also look forward to being in the sun, being in LA, and having so many amazing cultural experiences around - and also having beaches, hiking, and nature not far away.


#wanderlust


LIGHTNING ROUND


Favorite thing about Sun Valley?

The scenery!


What makes you the happiest?

Being outside with music and friends.


How would you spend a million dollars?

Hmm… this sounds pretentious, but right now I’d probably donate most of it to environmental conservation efforts.


Have you ever had any supernatural experiences?

When I was younger, I could have sworn I could fly because my dreams were so realistic… that probably doesn’t count though.


Favorite program you and Logan ever did?

Our final free dance… favorite performance was at Junior Worlds.


A final farewell to ice dance for Chloe - but what a way to go out!


What Disney character is most like you and why?

I hate that I can’t think of an answer because I love Disney… but I really don’t know! Maybe Ariel because I’m obsessed with the ocean, but I don’t have a giant collection of household items.


What do you think is one important life skill that everyone should have?

I think everyone should be adaptable.


If you could add a sport to the Olympics that's not currently in it, what would it be and why?

Big Mountain skiing? Some of my friends in Sun Valley do it, and it’s sick. I don’t think that’s in the Olympics currently.


Go-to snack?

Coffee.


Quote to live by?

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is."


Life's a beach, but Chloe always makes the best of it!


KEEP UP WITH CHLOE


Instagram: @chloeroselewis

Twitter: @chloeroselewis


Wherever her journey takes her next, we wish Chloe the best of luck on this crazy road of life. Be sure to follow her on social media to get a close-up view of her adventurous lifestyle, and stay tuned as she takes Southern California by storm next year!


All other photos courtesy of Chloe Rose Lewis