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Keegan Messing (CAN) competes during the 2023 ISU World Championships in Saitama (JPN) @ISU

When Keegan Messing steps on to the ice, you can be sure that he has the crowd on his side. The Canadian did not need any major international championships titles to his name to become one of the most popular Skaters on the circuit – no matter if he performed in North America, in Europe or in Asia. With the end of the 2022/23 season, the now 31-year-old has bowed out of competition. His last event was the ISU World Team Trophy in Tokyo where he bid farewell to the audience in Japan, at least at a competition.

Keegan Messing (CAN) 2023 World Team Trophy  Tokyo (JPN) ISU 1482546479Keegan Messing (CAN) reacts during the 2023 ISU World Team Trophy in Tokyo (JPN) @ISU

After 28 years on the ice, two Olympic Games, five ISU World Championships, three ISU Four Continents Championships, 12 ISU Grand Prix events and many more international and national competitions, Messing said good bye. This last competitive season was one of the best of his career, crowned by his first and only ISU Championship medal; the silver at the ISU Four Continents Championships (Colorado Springs, USA).

Keegan Messing (CAN) 2023 Four Continents Colorado Spring (USA) ISU 1465271672

Keegan Messing (CAN) celebrates during the 2023 ISU Four Continents in Colorado Springs (USA) @ISU

At the ISU World Figure Skating Championships (Saitama, JPN) and the ISU World Team Trophy 2023, it was obvious how much the Canadian Champion enjoyed being out there on the ice and how he soaked in every moment.

“It was an absolute blast. The World Team Trophy was a big reason I wanted to come back and compete one last time.”

He had enjoyed the format in 2019, but was unable to participate in the Olympic team event in 2022 after catching COVID-19. However, he did make it to Beijing in time for the individual competition event. While in Tokyo, Messing cheered for the Canadians and all other competitors and waved a huge Canadian flag that he even took on to the ice during the Exhibition Gala.

“I was just trying to live it up out there. I was trying to make the most of everything.”

Keegan Messing (CAN) 2023 World Team Trophy  Tokyo (JPN) ISU 1482546479Keegan Messing (CAN) celebrates during the 2023 ISU World Team Trophy in Tokyo (JPN) @ISU

“I felt like the crowd saw that and they were right there with me every step of the way on the practices. And I was just playing with the crowd. To finish here with my friends and family in those (team) boxes. My mom got to be here for it. I just really couldn't have asked for a better end.”

Messing set new personal best scores at the ISU World Championships in the Short Program as well as in the Free Skating and total score at the ISU Four Continents Championships, and it came unexpected to him.

Keegan Messing (CAN) 2023 Four Continents Colorado Spring (USA) GettyImages 1249130090 (1)

Keegan Messing (CAN) competes during the 2023 ISU Four Continents in Colorado Springs (USA) @ISU

“I didn't expect anything to come from this season. I expected, if anything, for my skating to start decreasing as time went on. And the fact that I got not just one, but I got two personal best in both Short Program and long program definitely makes me question whether I should quit or not. But my body definitely says otherwise.”

He continued, laughing.

“I'm just so happy that I can go out at the top, at my best. And I feel like I'm arguably the best skater I've ever been. It's just like my stars lined up and I could really retire happy now.”

@isuskating Keegan Messing appreciation post 🇨🇦🥳⛸️ #throwback to some memorable moments of this season! #FigureSkatinf @skate_canada ♬ original sound - ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀

“I think the reason I was able to build this connection with the crowd was actually through nerves.” 

Keegan Messing (CAN) ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2023 Colorado Springs (USA) ISU 1247064946

Keegan Messing (CAN) competes during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2023 in Colorado Springs (USA) @ISU

“When I was a kid, I would get really scared competing, and so I would decide, okay, I'm not skating for points. I'm not skating for the judges. I'm going to skate for the crowd. I'm going to turn this from a competition into a show. And so I would go out into the arena and not necessarily look at the judges stand, but I would look at the audience and be like, okay, this is my audience, and I'm going to entertain them. It was a way for me to cope with nerves of competing. And the crowd, they started to form a connection with me because I was skating for them. I kind of found my groove to be a performer, to be an entertainer out on the ice, and to just wear my heart on my sleeve and to give everything I have.”

Keegan Messing (CAN) 2023 World Championships Saitam (JPN) ISU 1476177414Keegan Messing (CAN) competes during the 2023 ISU World Championships in Saitama (JPN) @ISU

Nevertheless, the path was not always easy for Messing and he faced many ups and downs during his long career. He was born and grew up in Alaska and represented the USA until 2014. Problems with his skating boots led to poor performances and doubts whether he should continue, but then he decided to give it a try and skate for Canada, his mother’s home country, as he held Canadian citizenship. By the way, he has also Japanese heritage. His great-great grandfather Manzo Nagano on his mother’s side was the first official Japanese immigrant to Canada.

“As awful as it was at the time, I am secretly thankful for the boot issues, because that allowed me to skate for Canada,”

“It was probably the darkest days of my figure skating career. I was a year away from quitting the sport, actually. If I wouldn't have skated a good Nationals at that Canadians (he was fifth in 2015), I don't think I would have continued skating.”

Another very dark moment came when his younger brother died in a motorcycle accident in 2019.

“I was just kind of coasting through life,”

Messing recalled.

“It was just like I didn't even know what I was really doing. I was just trying to forget, trying to keep my mind from breaking and not getting World Championships and actually COVID lockdown was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time in my life. My wife and I got to take some much needed time together to understand how we were or what we were doing with our lives. And I got to come into the 2020/21 season with a renewed mind and a renewed vigor to skate stronger than I had ever before.”

Messing and Lane Hodson got married in August 2021 and have two children. Son Wyatt was born in July 2021 and daughter Mia was born in January 2023. His family became very important to Messing and as he pointed out, having his wife and kids helped him to become a better Skater.

The Canadian Champion also has many happy memories from his career. One of his favorite highlights is landing the first triple Axel at the U.S. Novice Championships in 2007.

“I was the first to do so. And I did it at the age of 14 years old. I remember doing that and I felt like I was the best skater in the world.”

He remembers fondly many of the big shows he performed in and his last ISU World Championship in Saitama (JPN) in March has a special place in his heart as well.

“I've been competing internationally for the last 16 years from Spring Trophy Gardena, Italy (in 2007), which was my first international competition when I was 15 years old, and to skating in Japan in front of a packed stadium,”

“I've competed over 6000ft in Colorado Springs and felt thin air up there. I've skated in almost every European country there is. Every experience is a little different, but it's just been a pleasure and an honor to do what you love as freely as I've been able to do it.”


Some crazy things happened to Messing as well.

“I've had stories from skates getting lost to getting stabbed in the leg on practice ice from an unexpected collision in Poland. It was a Junior Grand Prix in Poland (2009). I collided with my roommate on the ice and his blade punctured my thigh. I got eleven stitches down the leg, I got two stitches in my muscle. I got stitched up on the doctor's hotel bed with my coach holding the light over my wound. And I competed two days later to finish out the competition. I've never withdrawn from a competition. I've never not finished what I've started, and I've always followed it through,”

Now this chapter is closed, but a new one opens. Messing plans to become a fourth-generation firefighter at home in Alaska. Luckily for his numerous fans, he does not want to hang up his skates completely. Messing will still perform in shows in Canada and abroad. And although he never wanted to become a coach, he realized that he is enjoying to pass on his knowledge about skating to others.

Messing is known for his excellent spins and skating skills and helped out his long-time coach Ralph Burghart at seminars.

“One of the ways I like to teach spins is deepen knee bends and a lot of edge control, because the deeper you can get in your edge, the deeper you can get in the knee, the faster you can push into your spin,”

“Then I would start getting some students who didn't understand how to bend their knees or to get into their edges. So I would then start teaching them the edge work. To then strengthen those parts of their skating so that they could move those skills from basic skating to do their spins or to do their jumps. I started just absolutely loving challenging these kids with simple moves and increasing their edge quality and their range of motion. And it was so rewarding to see their improvement.”

Therefore, Messing can see himself coming to the “ice box” as he jokingly calls the rink, maybe two days a week to teach skating.

Right now the two-time Olympian is looking forward to spending more time with his family and to having more spare time.

“I can't wait to have some free time to take my motorcycle out and go hit some trails or take the mountain bike or start doing some hikes. As much as I love skating, training every day in the ice box is not the most fun in the world,”

He stayed in it much longer than he thought anyway.

“If you asked me at 18, I didn't want to skate past 24”,

He said with a laugh. Now he competed until he was 31. And he is happy to share his advice for the younger generations of Skaters out there:

“Have fun with your life, skating life. Or any situation you come into. Life's too hard to take seriously. Go out, have some fun. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Be vulnerable. Take a chance and love what you do. And wear a smile while you do it.”