Fresh off Olympic campaign, Girdwood's Messing readies for world championship

Keegan Messing skates in the Winter Olympic Games on February 17, 2018. Photo by Greg Kolz/Skate Canada.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - For Girdwood's Keegan Messing, the Olympics are over - perhaps for good, depending on whether or not he chases Olympic glory in 2022 - but the hard work is far from finished, as he prepares for the World Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy, at the end of March.

"To compete, you know, it's like..." said Messing, searching for words. "I walked out to the rink to compete, and my eyes wandered up to the Olympic rings in the corner, and it was like, 'Oh my gosh!'

"I almost started crying right before I went out on the ice," the lifelong Alaskan said. "It was something I've always wanted to do."

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games were a first for Messing, who was born and raised in Alaska but competed for Team Canada as is permitted under his dual citizenship status.

Placing in the

"It was everything and more that people told me it was going to be," he said. "I was able to leave very happy with how I skated."

However, he said, following the competition, he kind of "came down" and is now working toward top-notch performance at worlds. He's also still dealing with the effects of a high ankle sprain suffered during a training session before the Olympic games.

Though Messing's scored was dinged when he took a rotation off one of his triple axels - a go-to move for him on the ice, which just so happens to be nearly impossible for the average human - in one of his programs during his Olympic debut, he said he's proud of finally making his dream of being in the Olympics a reality.

"I skated very well for myself, landed both quads in my long program, and it was an amazing feeling," he said.

In search of redemption, Messing will face some of the world's best and brightest skating stars - many of whom Messing saw at the Olympics in South Korea - at the meet taking place March 21 through March 25.

"We're trying to build back up to another high again for worlds," Messing said at a recent practice session in Anchorage. And yes, he hit the triple axel multiple times that day. The hope is to do the same in Italy.

"The Olympics are the games, the biggest stage I feel any athlete has the opportunity to skate," he said. "The World Championships aren't as big but is just as big in the skating world."

Though Messing is currently ranked 36th in the International Skating Union's world rankings list for men's single skating, he's had numerous top finishes since the start of his career, taking home a win from the Cup of Nice 2012 and garnering top-five finishes in competitions from Canada to Croatia to Osaka. He said much of that comes from the support of family, friends, his coach, and the local community.

"To be able to put the Maple Leaf on but still know that everybody back home was cheering me on," he said, "It was such a cool experience."

The plan for now, Messing said, is to go two years and see how well he's doing then.

"I'll decide if I want to continue skating or call it quits at that point in time," he said. "But hopefully I can skate some shows and bring some joy to the world as well."

More details about the World Figure Skating Championships can be found here.