As a child, Laura Chavez was amazed by the things figure skaters were capable of doing over a sheet of ice. At a young age her parents enrolled her in multiple sports; ballet, tap, gymnastics, and skating, and when the time came to stick to only one sport, she chose figure skating. “We reached a point where I was no longer able to continue with all three sports and they let me choose what I wanted to continue in,” she shares. “I chose figure skating as it was what I enjoyed the most.”
How have your Latina roots influenced the professional you have become? Both of my parents emigrated from Mexico in their teenage years. They met here in the states and got married and started a family. My brother and I were both born in the state of California, but grew up with heavy Mexican culture influence. Spanish was my first language and I still speak Spanish with my parents and family members on a daily basis. Growing up, I saw my parents live the “American Dream”. I saw my dad go from working 2-3 jobs to starting his own business, and my mother is the most organized person I have ever met. I owe it to my parents for teaching my brother and I the importance of hard work and dedication.
What do you like most about your job? What I like most about my job is that it does not feel like a job at all. I love being an athlete, and the fact that I am now traveling the world doing a sport that I have loved my whole life is truly amazing. I am extremely grateful for this job and the opportunities it has given me. Bringing fairy tales to life and seeing the excitement of not only the kids, but of whole families really makes every show worth it.
Did you overcome any obstacles or barriers as a result of being a woman or Latina? I would have to say that being Latina has given more opportunities than it has given me obstacles. I am lucky to say that I cannot think of any negative racial experiences. I am fluent in two languages and although I grew up in America, I have been able to experience my rich Mexican culture through my family and vacations I have taken to my parent’s hometowns.
List your professional staples.
-I have been a professional figure skater with Disney on ice for 4 years.
– I am a senior at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas studying Criminal Justice
-I have travelled throughout the United States and Canada, and also a few countries abroad that include: Dubai, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Panama, and Chile
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself coaching figure skating to younger generations. When I am done figure skating myself, I want to pass on my knowledge of this wonderful sport to other people so that they have the opportunity to fall in love with it the way I did.
What advice would you give to any Latina interested in pursuing a career in figure skating. I want to say that being Latina or any other minority has nothing to do with ability. Everything is achievable if you put in the work. Only a small part of success is talent. Being a figure skater requires so much work and dedication. There will be so many times you will have to tell your friends and family “I can’t. I have skating” and you will probably hate it at the time, but once you see what the sport can offer you will not regret it. Whether your dream is to make it to the Olympics or to travel the world, you CAN do it, there is nothing that can stop you.
Anything else you would like readers to know? Being of Hispanic descent in the figure skating world is very rare, and I hope to see more Hispanics looking into joining the sport. I love my culture and background. In my field of work, I work and live with people from all around the world: Russia, Canada, USA, Ukraine, Australia, etc. So it is a lot of fun to expose people to parts of my culture that they might have not known otherwise, and I love learning about their cultures as well. It’s all about keeping an open mind and being able to share such fun experiences with people all around you.
Watch Laura Chavez perform at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. from February 15 – 20. http://www.disneyonice.com/dream-big