skip to content
16 Apr 2018
Olympism in Action Forum
Olympism in Action Forum

More than medals: French figure skating duo on camaraderie in the olympic games

Vanessa James joined the French figure skating team by way of Canada, Bermuda and then the United States. Morgan Cipres is an accomplished French skater in both singles and doubles events. Together, they are an Olympic duo to watch.


In the run-up to the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires (5-6 October 2018), we looked at groups and individuals who, inspired by the power of sport to contribute to a better world, have used their initiative to organise projects and programmes to effect change at all levels.

More stories
How we do

Vanessa: “I started skating when my family moved to the US. Before that, my sister and I were tennis players. That year we went skating for Christmas after watching the Olympics and my sister decided that she wanted to skate competitively. We’re twins and we do everything together, so our parents signed us both up. Eventually we had to choose between tennis or figure skating and we decided, ‘We're not doing tennis anymore, skating is our thing.’ So that's how it all started. My sister did ice dance and I did singles, and then pairs, and now I’m here.”

Morgan: “At the Junior Worlds there were a few coaches who said to my coach, ‘this boy should do pairs because he's a little bit bigger than the other singles skaters, and you can see he's strong on the ice – he could be good.’ But we didn’t have a lot of history with pairs before that in France. I told myself, ‘Maybe I should try it, just to see if I like it… we can see.’ But I was already a competitor, I didn’t want to skate ‘just for fun.’ So I said ‘If I do this, I'm going to do it to the end.’ My dream was to go to Olympics.”

Vanessa: “I'm 30, so imagine how long I've been in this sport. I started when I was 11, so from 18 until now, I never stopped giving up or believing in myself. I knew that I could make it here someday, and young competitors should know that they can do it too. Age is no limit. If your body and your will can keep going, do it, just keep working.”

IOC / Huet, John

Morgan: “Like I said, when I was a kid I dreamed of going to the Olympics. I competed at Sochi, and now I dream about a medal. We always want more and more and more, and that's the problem. Maybe after I get a medal, I won’t know if I want more because – take away the medal – it's still an amazing experience just to be here.”

Vanessa: “When we focus on the medals and winning and all the results, we forget that it's an honour to be here. I think that's what we need to remember and focus on. We should feel free to perform because it is an honour to be here and put the rest aside. I think the results will come with it.”

Morgan: “In the Olympic Village, everything political, everything around the world, just stops and we can focus on what we have to do as athletes. It’s a lot of sharing and exchanging pins and people sitting with others they don’t know, whether from their own countries or different ones. Everyone's united and rooting for each other. Having everything around you stop so you can appreciate that you're in a bubble of athletes and sport and sportsmanship is a beautiful experience.”

Vanessa: “I think skating at this level has allowed us to inspire a lot of kids of different backgrounds, of different cultures. It takes a little of the stress away because we know that what we're doing is more important than our results – we're inspiring and impacting people’s lives. People send us so many messages on Facebook saying, ‘you made my day,’ and, ‘we watch your videos all the time.’ It's touching that people follow us so much and that what we do makes a difference.”

Morgan: “We are really proud of this. We are just human beings, normal people, but we are trying to do something good in history and our passion extends to everyone watching. I think people are happy to follow our sport because they can see we are trying our best every day. I think it’s important for the world to know that there is no secret to success. If you believe in your goal, you're going to do it.”

back to top Fr