Canadian ice dancer Vanessa Crone is a girl with an infectious grin and an energy that seems barely contained in her 5-foot-2 frame.
And she is ready to make her comeback in competitive figure-skating. All she needs now is the right person who is willing and able to do it with her.
A year ago, Crone, then 20, and her ice dancing partner of 10-years, Paul Poirier, 19, were the reigning Canadian ice dancing champions.
They were also bronze medalists at the 2010-2011 Grand Prix Final and had represented Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
But on Jun. 2, 2011, it was over. Crone and Poirier ended their partnership, and he would move on to a pairing with Piper Gilles.
Breaking up was an event that Crone admitted was very difficult.
“After 10 years of being with my former partner Paul [Poirier] we had such a bond,” said Crone, from inside a dressing room at the North Toronto Skating Club. “And it was more of a personal thing.
“It wasn’t so much the skating that was hard to let go of. I mean that obviously was devastating, but he was like my brother and to have someone like that torn out of your life, it was extremely hard for me.”
The Toronto-native said it took her eight weeks to leave her house and be able to once again tie on her skates.
But even after she got back on the ice and partaking in the sport that she loved, it still took her awhile to finally accept the challenge of finding a new partner.
A few came and went, but none of them seemed to fit her just right.
“It’s on the ice, but it has a lot to do with the connection off the ice,” said Crone, of what makes for a perfect partner.
“You want a professional level with someone but you also want to make sure that you’re friends and you really trust the person and you connect well with them and you have fun with them.
“If you’re not having fun, it’s really going to be stressful day in and day out.”
For her, a strong friendship is an important part of having a healthy and successful ice dancing relationship. It is what allows for the trust needed when executing some of the more elaborate ice dancing moves.
And it certainly helps to be able laugh when things don’t go quite right on some days.
That chemistry can also be the difference between being competitive locally and internationally.
At 21 years of age, Crone is taking the challenges in stride, understanding that finding the right partner is something that will take time.
She is still looking, hoping to find him. In the meantime, she is keeping busier than your average young adult.
Currently she is involved in singles figure-skating. Not so much as a competitive skater, she insisted, but as a means to help her keep in competitive shape.
She is also currently attending a bridging program at the University of Toronto while teaching figure-skating to children at North Toronto.
“[Teaching’s] something that I always wanted to do, even when it wasn’t an option when I was training 24/7,” said Crone. “But I just love working with kids and I obviously love the sport and I want to give back.”
All the while, she is holding tryouts in the hopes of eventually finding the one person that will bring her back to the international stage.
“I’m not really that picky as of yet, I’m trying to just broaden my horizons with different countries,” said Crone. “Unfortunately I can’t be released for my country because I competed at the Olympics so that’s kind of restricting for me.
“Right now I’m doing tryouts with American boys and some Europeans, but mostly American. Hopefully if I can get a partner within the next couple months, we’ll really push for that citizenship and hopefully go to Sochi.
“If not we’ll have a longer period of time to work on that and do that.”
She isn’t resentful of what happened, she has nothing bad to say about Poirier or really anything bad to say about anything or anyone.
For her, what happened and is happening today is a good life experience. In this, Crone displays a maturity and understanding that bellies her relative youth.
It’s been a long road for Crone since Jun. 2011, and the road may be longer still, but she remains optimistic about what she has to look forward to.
“Everyone moves on,” said Crone. “I’m slowly now able to do that and I’m excited for my new career.”