Mahbanoozadeh moves on to 'next chapter in life'
Two-time Junior Grand Prix Final medalist reflects on completed 15-year career
|Armin Mahbanoozadeh feels blessed and grateful for the incredible fan support he received throughout his skating career. (Getty Images)|
"I'm not going to say never, but I don't see it happening," he said. "Perhaps on the collegiate level. I've been taking skating season by season for the past couple of years. I just decided that the way the season went, it probably wouldn't be the best use of my time to continue competing."
Mahbanoozadeh stopped short of saying he was retiring, while admitting that it was basically what he was doing.
"People are afraid to use the R-word," he said, laughing. "For now, I'm just saying that I'm not competing this season or any season that I can see in the future."
Mahbanoozadeh, who was the 2007 U.S. novice champion and two-time Junior Grand Prix Final medalist, started the 2012-13 season with the silver medal at the inaugural U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City, but he ended up a disappointing seventh at Skate America and 13th at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha, Neb. He decided to call it a career shortly after that competition.
"I had a long talk with my parents, and we agreed that it was probably for the best," he said. "It wasn't easy. I'm content with what I accomplished in my career, but the way the season went was disappointing. It's a good time to move on with the next chapter in my life."
Mahbanoozadeh sprained his ankle on the first practice session at Skate America last October, and he had a hard time getting on track after that.
"I was dealing with a lot of injuries last season, and it wasn't smooth sailing; it was a bit rough," he said.
The timing of Mahbanoozadeh's decision is a little unusual, given that the Olympics are next winter. Originally, Mahbanoozadeh had planned to compete through the Olympic season.
"Part of me will always be a little disappointed that I'm not going to be competing this season," he admitted. "I'm in no position to make the Olympic team, to be honest."
Mahbanoozadeh said he had already spoken with all his coaches to thank them for working with him over his 15-year skating career.
"I had a fantastic team," he said. "Christy [Krall] is fantastic. I appreciate all the time we worked together. And Catarina [Lindgren] did such a great job with my programs. I was so honored to be at the Olympic Training Center for a couple of years."
Mahbanoozadeh was the first winter "athlete ambassador" at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. For six months, he guided visitors on tours of the facility and shared details about his life as an athlete.
Back home in Virginia, the 21-year-old is making up for lost college time, cramming in 16 credits this summer at the Northern Virginia Community College. He said he will transfer to the University of Virginia in the fall of 2014.
"With the timing of nationals, it was too late to apply for the regular decision at university," he said. "I can get done with college in less than three years, so I'm going to be saving a lot of time. It's not where I imagined, but there are many benefits."
The hard-working college student is majoring in computer science, although he said he hasn't decided whether he'll go into software or hardware. He plans to go to graduate school somewhere on the West Coast after college. He is uncertain about whether he'll return to skating in any official way in the future.
"When I was younger, I was really interested in becoming a judge," he said. "That interest has gone down with the direction the International Judging System (IJS) has taken in the last couple of years. I'll be interested in how IJS evolves in the future. Until that changes, I'm not going to be interested in judging.
"I feel like I still want to be plugged into the skating world. I still have my friends I hope to stay in contact with forever, hopefully. I plan on at least being a spectator at events."
Mahbanoozadeh had special words for the support of his many fans.
"It's been really important," he said. "A lot of fans from Japan have been so supportive. A lot of times, I almost feel like they're better fans than I deserved! I'll always remember them. They mean a lot to me, and they always will."
Although he is at peace with the decision now, Mahbanoozadeh said it had been an emotional one.
"I've put 15 years of my life into this," he said. "But I've gotten so much out of it, it's not how it ends. I had the most amazing experiences, and met the most amazing people, and had the best time of my life."