With four different types of quadruple jumps in his repertoire, Vincent Zhou is a rising star in the world of men’s skating. He has already captured U.S. titles on the intermediate, novice and junior levels—twice being the youngest skater ever to claim the title. He made his senior debut at age 15, finishing in the top 10 in the country. Diligent in his training and focused on making his mark, Zhou’s skating continues to improve and excite audiences. On March 16, 2017, Vincent won the World Junior Championship in Taipei, Taiwan. This is the first time a US man has won the title since 2013.
Zhou first set foot on the ice at age three and at five-and-a-half attended a friend’s skating birthday party, which led to group lessons. He happily zoomed around the rink while the other kids hung onto the boards. His mother soon found a coach for private lessons.
As an active kid, his parents let him try a variety of sports in addition to skating—soccer, swimming, tee-ball, tennis and basketball. At age eight, his parents told him to make a choice between the two sports at which he excelled, soccer and skating.
“My mom tells me I said, ‘My heart is with skating,’” Zhou recalled. “I realized then I loved it.”
Early success took him by surprise, but he appreciated that his hard work and dedication paid off. Unfortunately, he suffered a couple of significant injuries and was unable to compete during the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons. Undaunted and positive-thinking, he was determined to return to the sport he loves.
“I’ve always been a perfectionist; when I do something, I want to be the best at it,” Zhou said. “When I got back on the ice, I wanted to do what I could do before and get even better. I kept trying and trying until I got everything back. It’s all been uphill since.”
Even at a young age, he’s always understood that skating is a marathon not a sprint. He treats mistakes as lessons, intent on being better at the next opportunity.
Zhou’s dad works for Google in the Silicon Valley. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Zhou also considers humility and respect as primary character traits. His parents have sacrificed a lot for his skating. His father remains based in Northern California and his mother has traveled with him to seek out the best coaching. Now training in Southern California with Tammy Gambill, Zhou and his mother travel home as often as possible.
While they celebrate his skating, his family also places a priority on education. Zhou’s older sister is a freshman at M.I.T. He has also shown outstanding intelligence and is already a senior in high school, including taking AP calculus. He plans to attend college, but a school’s proximity to a good training facility will likely factor into his decision.
Zhou readily admits it isn’t easy to balance school and skating, but he chooses to focus on the positive. Now attending an online charter school, he’s able to continue his studying and schoolwork even when traveling to competitions.
“I have to manage my time well and be efficient with what I do,” Zhou said. “I want to follow in the footsteps of my family.”
Zhou is embracing a more mature look in his skating. Working with young and stylish choreographer Drew Meekins helps him fully understand and appreciate how to move to music, express new styles and utilize every aspect of performance.
At the 2017 U.S. Championships, Zhou competed at the senior level and wowed the crowd and judges with an impressive silver medal landing multiple quads. With this momentum, Zhou is looking forward to the 2018 season. Zhou has goals of medaling on the Grand Prix Circuit and has his eyes on the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea.
Although openly ambitious, Zhou remains modest when speaking of his achievements. While he enjoys accomplishments, he remains humble, knowing there is always room for improvement. He attributes this to his Chinese heritage.
“I want to live up to my potential. That’s really all I can ask,” Zhou said. “I already have quad toe, quad Salchow, quad flip and quad Lutz. I have what I need; I just need to develop the consistency of my jumps. I also want to develop my maturity on the ice and my presentation, the components aspect of my skating—level four footwork and faster spins with nice positions. It’s the skaters with the whole package who end up being the greatest champions of all time.”
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