According to her mother, Vanessa James and her sister Melissa went on the computer after watching the 1998 Winter Olympics and made a contract saying “Mom and Dad, if we both get straight A’s, will you take us to figure skating lessons at six in the morning?” The rest is history.
Vanessa James is now a 3x Olympic figure skater. She originally competed domestically in the United States and represented the Washington Figure Skating Club. At one point when she got a stress fracture, Vanessa said, “I would get to the competition and I would freak out. I wasn’t myself. At some point, I decided that skating was not for me. At that time, a British skater came to ask if I wanted to have a tryout. I said, ‘well let me see, it could be fun’. So I drove 10 hours with my sister to Chicago and I had my first tryout and loved it. I wasn’t afraid anymore, I wanted to do double and triple throws on the first day.”
In 2005, James began representing the United Kingdom internationally. She won gold at the 2006 British Championships and silver in 2007, becoming the first British figure skating champion of Black African descent. She competed for Britain in the 2006 ISU Junior Grand Prix and at the 2007 World Junior Championships. Her last event as a singles skater was the 2007 International Cup of Nice where she won the bronze medal.
In late 2007, James switched to pair skating. With her skating partner, Morgan Ciprès, she became the 2018 World Bronze Medalist, the 2019 European Champion, and a six-time French national champion. Recently, James has become the Global Brand Ambassador for Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance (FSDIA) where she and her team work to promote diversity in the figure skating world.
Although Vanessa is extremely successful, she has had her share of bad days too. She eventually realized, “Skating is apart of me, apart of my life, but it is not who I am. If you fall, that doesn’t change the good person that you are. It doesn’t change people’s respect for you. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad skater, it’s just a bad day. This really changed my perspective on how I should be handling skating and my life. It changed everything for me”.
We look forward to seeing what Vanessa’s organization will accomplish in the future! We are also beyond excited to have her as the keynote speaker for our Perform In Color Showcase on August 17th! Click the link to get your ticket today https://performincolorshowcase.splashthat.com