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Colorado Springs figure skating coach, Janet Champion, has led a life that is a bit like an old Hollywood movie.
At the age of three, Champion began tap, acrobatics, and ballet lessons at a dance studio in San Diego, California. Little Janet began roller skating lessons with a teacher who also happened to teach ice skating. It didn't take long before young Janet had refined her skating skills to the point where she could perform acrobatic moves on both ice and roller skates. At the age of eight, Champion entered a statewide contest -- the California State Exchange Club Contest -- where she performed a series of acrobatic moves and jumps.
In those days, accepting any money for a sports-related activity, meant that an individual had become a "professional" and was ineligible for competitive amateur athletics. After a short introduction, Shipstad asked Champion to show her back handsprings to Johnson. So began a fairytale-like existence as Champion spent the next several years traveling the world with her mother, visiting idyllic locations and living in grand hotels.
She loved to perform every night, and the three shows on Saturday was more of a delight than a job. After school, she would do homework, eat dinner, and then head off to perform each evening. While Champion and her mother traveled with the Ice Follies, her father remained in San Diego and continued to run the family's dry cleaning business. Each show season, Janet was featured in two numbers: a ballet act and a children's number that included acrobatics on the ice -- eventually an entire Lollypop Land number was designed around her.

Champion has had students compete in regional, sectional, national, and international events. In San Diego, Janet Champion taught many skaters she developed from beginning group lessons. Champion continues to contribute to the sport, and has been a figure skating coach in Colorado Springs since 1987.
Jo Ann Schneider-FarrisColorado Springs Ice Skating ExaminerJo Ann Schneider-Farris has participated in skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author.
After watching Champion perform, the studio's director got the idea that she could do her acrobatic moves on roller skates. The San Diego Figure Skating Club soon informed Champion's coaches and parents, that her future as a competitive skater was over. Champion asked "How many do you want me to do?" Shipstad asked for ten, so the obedient nine year old, without a thought and with her skates on, did ten handsprings on the ice. After some negotiations, the Champion's agreed to the second offer, and she began skating with the Ice Follies at the age of ten.
Champion only performed in the first half of the show in compliance with child labor laws which did not allow her on stage past a certain time. After her three-year contract expired, Johnson handed her father a new contract and told him to fill it out any way he wanted. She graduated from high school and headed to Las Vegas to star in a show at the Frontier Hotel on the strip.
Cindy Moyers Stuart, one of her first private students, won a bronze medal in the 1975 junior ladies national championships and is now considered one of the foremost figure skating choreographers.

National Figure Skating Championships in Cincinnati, her student, Joyce Newell, landed two triple toe-loops, two triple Salchows, and two double Axels. She has worked with Olympic champion John Curry, world champion Linda Fratianne, and world champion Jill Trenary. Although skaters like US figure skating champion Ryan Bradley do back flips on the ice, the back handsprings done by Janet Champion were unique. Shipstad was amazed at what he saw, and a month later, the Champion family was flown to Spokane, Washington for an official audition with Shipstad, his brother Roy, Oscar Johnson, and the show's choreographers. For about six months each year, she would go to the rink in the morning and practice, then she would take a taxi to a school where special arrangements had been made for Champion to attend. After that, she headed to South America where she landed a three-year stint with Holiday on Ice.
She found that she loved teaching skating and enjoyed sharing the joy she had for the sport with others.
She has been on the board of the Professional Skaters Association and has received numerous awards for her contributions to figure skating.

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