AMES, Iowa — Seventeen year old Joslyn Waelti-Johnson takes the ice with a purpose. “I want people to feel something when I skate,” said the Ballard High School Junior. Each moment becomes frozen in time. “The best feeling is probably, even though it can get painful on my ears, the cold wind that I hit when you start going fast. That wind gets stronger and it is just a nice feeling,” she said.
Waelti-Johnson has been chasing that feeling almost all her life. “It started when I was three years old. I was infatuated with Disney, everything Disney, Joslyn said. So her family took to her to Disney on Ice at the Wells Fargo Events Center in Des Moines. Joslyn said, “I was like, I have to do what Cinderella is doing so we started learning how to skate and the rest is history.”
Joslyn’s mothers, Dawn and Candi knew then where most of their free time would be spent. “She loved the ice. We couldn’t keep her off of it,” said Candi.
Now Joslyn has her goals set as high as her triple axel will take her. “My dream is to be on Disney on Ice. That is my biggest dream,” she said.
When most are asleep, Joslyn is putting in the work at Ames Ice Arena. “I get up at 4:15 am every morning and I eat breakfast and come here. I train from 5:50 am to 7:30 am.” she said. Then again after school on Wednesdays and Fridays for a total of over thirteen hours a week under the watchful eye of Ames Figure Skating Club coach Traci Kepley. “Without her guidance I would not be the person or the skater I am today,” said Joslyn.
When some teenagers turn sixteen they receive a car for their birthday. For Joslyn the decision was easy, figure skates. Joslyn described the Italian designed boots saying, “It is a family joke that they are my car. They are made to be shock absorbent and they have shock absorbing layers in the boot. They are very stiff so my ankles don’t wobble when I’m landing a very difficult jump.” They may not have four wheels but those skates are driving her to championships across the country. “In 2016 I traveled to Cleveland and competed at the National Showcase Championships and I got first in the teen dramatic national champion,” said Joslyn. It was a breakthrough moment that surprised even herself. She said, “You don’t really hear of national championship figure skaters coming from Iowa.”
Joslyn followed it up by becoming a United States Figure Skating Gold Medalist. “There are a series of tests and I passed moves in the field. There are eight tests and I passed all of those and tested out of those in the field and became a gold medalist,” said Joslyn.
The honor is so rare that only three percent of athletes that test reach the gold level. “That kind of opened up some opportunities for me. I was able to skate in some exhibitions,” said Joslyn.
The icy path Joslyn is etching makes her mothers proud. Candi said, “It gets me teary. We both get really teary while she skates.”
Emotion is what first brought Joslyn the dream as a three-year-old and it continues to be a strength in her routines. “I’m a very dramatic skater because that’s my personality. I can play those emotions really well.”
Now she may be one routine away from professionally skating with Disney on Ice. She said, “This spring, I will send them a video of my skating and what I can do and email them my résumé. If they like me, hopefully they’ll like me, then they’ll ask me to do a live audition when the show comes to Iowa.”
Her talents gliding her full circle, perhaps in the same arena where it all began as a little girl who wished to become an ice skating princess. “I think it is because that is how I started. I want to start other people in their skating careers and playing Cinderella would be a great dream. I want somebody to feel the joy that I feel when I’m skating just watching me and so that would be a dream come true,” said Joslyn.
If the audition tape is successful and Disney on Ice accepts her on tour, Joslyn says she already has enough credits to graduate from Ballard High School early and tour professionally.