• Aly Leia Wein

Meet Natalie D'Alessandro



Every morning, 15-year-old Natalie D'Alessandro wakes up before dawn and heads to the world-renowned Toronto Cricket, Skating & Curling Club, because that's what elite figure skaters do. But there are very few elite figure skaters like Natalie, who train and compete internationally in TWO disciplines. Splitting her time between singles and ice dance (alongside partner Bruce Waddell, who's also a double-discipline skater), Natalie has sacrificed time and expended energy to get to the high level of skating she's at today. And it's paid off, because this week she and Bruce are headed to Lausanne, Switzerland, to represent Canada in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, an honor she doesn't take lightly.


When I visited Cricket Club back in November, I had a firsthand opportunity to see Natalie in her element. The 2019 Canadian bronze medalist (in ice dance) was thrilling to watch, carrying with her an air of magic and excellence in every dynamic movement she performed. Her blades instinctively and seamlessly cut through the ice, while her face contoured its expressions from pure joy to acute intensity and back again. As a skater, Natalie's friends and training mates describe her as "determined, talented, and unstoppable," and as a person, she's "honest, funny, and genuine." All stellar qualities of which I can personally attest to - even at 5:50 AM, Natalie was nothing but warm and welcoming.


It was a privilege to talk to one of Canada's rising stars on the ice, and I know amazing things are headed her way. Read on to learn how Natalie balances skating and high school, what it's like training alongside the best of the best at Cricket Club, and how it feels to be a Youth Olympian!


(Original cover photo by Aly Leia Photography/Edges of Glory.)


Arms open to embrace the world!

(Photo by Aly Leia Photography/Edges of Glory.)


QUICK FACTS


Birthday: June 16th, 2004 (15 years old)

Born: Toronto, ON, Canada

Hometown: Toronto, ON, Canada

Currently: Toronto, ON, Canada

Skating Club: Toronto Cricket, Skating & Curling Club

Country Represented: Canada

Discipline: Ice Dance, Singles

Partner: Bruce Waddell

Level: Junior

Training Location: Toronto Cricket, Skating & Curling Club in North York, Ontario, Canada

Coaches: Tracy Wilson, Andrew Hallam, Joey Russell, Karen Preston

Boots: Risport Dance Elite (Ice Dance), Risport RF1 Elite (Singles)

Blades: MK Dance (Ice Dance), John Wilson Gold Seal Revolution (Singles)

Some shots of Natalie and Bruce training at Cricket Club on one frosty November morning.

(Photos by Aly Leia Photography/Edges of Glory.)


QUESTIONS


Q: Figure skating has always been a huge part of Canadian culture and likewise, it's always been a huge part of your life as well. When did you know that skating was for you?

A: During my life as a figure skater, my true love for the sport came from skating up at my cottage with my brothers. Before realizing that figure skating was what I wanted to pursue, I had a few mid-CanSkate breakdowns involving crying over my hair being caught in my helmet. But eventually, that helmet came off, and that’s when skating started becoming something much more than a weekend pastime for me.


Whether she's an adorable ladybug (c. 2009) or a graceful performer (c. 2013), Natalie lights up any room - or rink - she's in!


Q: From winning bronze in novice ladies back at the 2016 Canadian National Championships to your silver medal in ice dance at Junior Grand Prix Egna-Neumarkt earlier this month, you've had quite a successful career in both disciplines. What motivates you to compete in both, and how do you split your time and energy between them?

A: The biggest motivation for me is getting to compete at Nationals for both singles and dance. By doing so, I get to take the ice four times doing something I love. Time-wise, I train my ice dance in the mornings before school and my freeskate in the afternoons after school. My energy throughout the week is usually pretty strong - the long days of four programs a day are definitely harder, but when I have my goals in mind, it helps to push me through. Having a great support team like I do enables me to balance my school and skating on a daily basis.


Natalie after winning bronze at 2016 Canadian Nationals in novice ladies, and Natalie & Bruce skating their 2019-20 "Le Jazz Hot" rhythm dance.

(Photos courtesy of Danielle Earl Photography.)


Q: You and partner Bruce Waddell - who also competes in singles - are a perfect pairing on the ice! Tell us about the origins of your partnership and what makes you two click so well.

A: Before Bruce and I became partners, we both freeskated together every day, so we knew each other a fair bit. Our dance coach thought it would be fun for us to try skating together a few mornings a week, and before we knew it, we had our first free dance! I think what makes us click is that we both have different personalities, but the same goals and motives. We feed off each other’s competitive energy and love to perform together.



Q: Your Meatloaf "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" free dance is so breathtakingly beautiful - I get chills every time! What made you choose that iconic music, and what are your favorite parts (both technically and artistically) of the program?

A: Our Meatloaf program came from a suggestion from David Wilson. We had the idea before this year but wanted to save it for the right time. We knew it was a very powerful piece that requires full energy and emotion, and we are excited to grow with it throughout the season. My favourite part technically in the program is our stand-up curve lift - when the music is done building and there is that moment of stillness when I’m in my position, it's a great feeling. In terms of artistically, I love performing the choreo character step sequence at the end. At that point, almost all the elements are done, and you get to take centre ice one last time to close out your program. It’s a very emotional part, but is also very fun to do.


Natalie and Bruce's gold medal-winning performance at the 2020 Skate Canada Challenge in Edmonton, Alberta, last month.


Q: Congrats on your first Junior Grand Prix medal! What were all the emotions you experienced when you and Bruce won the silver in Egna, Italy?

A: Thank you very much! After our free dance, I was extremely proud of our first JGP medal together. Clicking the result page and seeing your name on the podium with the Canadian flag next to it is a pretty cool feeling. We had clear goals for the competition and were able to achieve most of them, which felt very rewarding. After our skate, we looked over our scoresheets and saw that there was lots of room for improvement. We look forward to setting more goals and improving our elements in both programs!


Q: The Toronto Cricket, Skating & Curling Club is home to both champion singles skaters (such as Yuzuru Hanyu, Evgenia Medvedeva, and Jason Brown) and ice dancers alike. What's the energy and environment like for you at TCC?

A: The energy is one of my favourite parts of skating there! I have super close friendships and amazing coaches and lots to be grateful for. Everyone has amazing work ethics and talents that you can learn from every day. The skaters and coaches at the rink are so supportive and are always pushing you to be better.


Natalie and some of #TeamCricket!


Q: Skating is only one part of your identity as a human being, so I'm curious, who is Natalie D'Alessandro off the ice?

A: When I’m not at the rink, you’ll probably find me at home or at the closest bubble tea shop. I love seeing my friends from school when I can and just hanging out with my family. I typically have lots of schoolwork to do, so that keeps me pretty busy as well, but school is very important to me and is something I really enjoy. Having that time in my day that has nothing to do with skating is essential for me, and getting to see my friends is something I look forward to every day.


Natalie and her two brothers in 2008 and then again a decade later in 2018.


Q: As a born and raised Torontonian, what are some recommendations you have for anyone visiting the area for the first time? Drop all your best can't-miss restaurants, attractions, and locations!

With my busy schedule, I haven’t seen as much of the city as I would like, but I’m getting there! I’m a big foodie - if you haven’t noticed from my Instagram highlight - and lucky for me, Toronto has some great spots. My favourites are Shinobu for sushi, Sophie’s for breakfast and really anywhere in Yorkville for dinner. Of course, if it’s your first time in Toronto, you should check out the CN Tower, Canada’s Wonderland, Ripley’s Aquarium, or maybe Bloor Street if you're looking to do some major shopping damage. The Distillery District is one of my favourite places at Christmas time.


Q: Last month, you found out that you and Bruce were named to the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, which you leave for in only a few days! How did you find out, and what are you most looking forward to about being a Youth Olympian?

A: It feels unreal to say I’m going to be a Youth Olympian. We found out after Challenge - my family and I were getting ready for dinner, and I looked down at my phone and saw the email! I read it so fast my parents could barely understand what I was saying because I was so excited! I even had to read it over a few times myself before it really sunk in. I remember going to bed quite happy and thinking, wow we really did it! Definitely the best Monday I’ve ever had. Bruce and I have had this as a goal for so long, and it’s crazy to think it’s actually going to become a reality. We have watched how the Youth Olympic Games have been promoted on social media and have seen how much hard work and time has gone into making #Lausanne2020 such an amazing event. This just makes us feel even more special for getting the chance to represent Canada and compete. I’m definitely most excited about performing our programs and meeting new people! We have trained very hard this season and are extremely excited to show off what we can do. We will be training away preparing to give it all we have!


Natalie (and a cute moose friend) in her official #TeamCanada 2020 Youth Olympic gear - one week to go!

Q: One last thing - where do you see figure skating going in the next decade, and how would you like to contribute to pushing the sport forward?

Being a competitor in junior dance is really quite cool. The whole community of Canadian dance teams seems to push each other each year, getting stronger and stronger. There is no direct way we are trying to push the sport, but every year we try to tell our own stories with our skating through our programs.


Portrait of a skater.

(Photo by Aly Leia Photography/Edges of Glory.)


LIGHTNING ROUND


Favorite junk food?

Anything banana-flavored.


If you were a pizza, which one would you be and why?

I have never thought of myself as a food, but I guess I’d choose to be a pineapple pizza because then nobody would eat me.


Funny quirk?

When waiting for the scores for the team that skates before us at a competition (while we warm up on the ice), I have to complete a twizzle sequence on my own. My partner and coaches usually laugh at me, but I never compete without it.


If you could create a new province, what would you name it and why?

To be honest, the thought of having an uneven number of 11 provinces bothers me too much to come up with a new one. The number should always stay even.


Smoothest ice ever skated on?

My home rink!


Smooth ice = happy face!

(Photo by Aly Leia Photography/Edges of Glory.)


Who do you call when you're going through a hard time?

I would call my mom or anyone in my family because I know they will always be supportive.


Favorite purely Canadian food?

BeaverTails! #SponsorMe


Last movie that made you cry?

Can’t remember!


Favorite word?

Matcha!


Quote to live by?

“If there was no tomorrow, how hard would you play today?”

From smiley to serious!

(Photos by Aly Leia Photography/Edges of Glory.)


KEEP UP WITH Natalie


Personal Instagram: @nataliedaless

Team Instagram: @natnbruce


Follow Natalie to tag along on her and Bruce's exciting adventures at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland - and whatever's next!

All other photos and videos courtesy of Natalie D'Alessandro.

  • Edges of Glory Instagram
  • Edges of Glory Twitter
  • Edges of Glory Facebook

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM

@edgesofglory

© 2019 | Edges of Glory by Aly Leia Wein | aly@edgesofglory.com