Perhaps it was inevitable: For all those years, Michael Weiss’s mom carted him around to ice rinks at the break of dawn, putting him on the path to figure-skating perfection that would make the Fairfax native a three-time national champion. And now, at 35, Weiss himself has become a rink dad, in service to his 12-year-old son, Christopher.
“Sure enough, here I am again,” he told us. “What am I doing in the morning but sitting in an ice rink.”
But while it was figure skating that took Weiss all the way to the Olympics, his son is making his own way in hockey.
His youth team, the Reston Raiders, will represent Virginia at the Tier II 12-and-under national championship tournament this week in Reston and Ashburn. The Weiss family, including his wife Lisa and daughter Annie Mae, live in McLean.
Dang, kid took a wrong turn, huh? Why not figure skating? Weiss said his son was preoccupied by other games (flag football, taekwondo) and had no interest in ice — until age 7, when he suddenly announced he wanted to try hockey. “From that day on, he didn’t want to do anything more with the other sports.”
But via hockey, Weiss got his son to try his sport. “If you’re a good figure skater, you have a leg up on a hockey player,” explained Weiss, who played hockey as a kid. The ranks of hockey trainers are filled with ex-figure skaters, who have much to teach players about moving efficiently across the ice. When his son got serious about the game, Weiss signed him up for classes with his old coach.
Otherwise, Weiss says, he tries to be more dad than coach, offering advice from his past. At the national level, he’s warned his son, the competition is better and faster than what you’re used to, and little things — practicing, eating well, sleeping — make the difference between winning and losing.
“I try to keep things realistic for him,” says Weiss, who skates with Stars on Ice and does competition commentary for NBC. “I want him to realize, what you go through during the process is the real reward. It’s not the trophy or being an Olympian, it’s what it teaches you: That hard work and discipline equals results.”
“He rolls his eyes and says, ‘Dad, I know.’”