By her own admission, as a figure skater Steffany Hanlen could barely
land a double Axel, but she's worked with skaters at the highest level and
helped them prepare for life after competition. She's also provided a couple of
well-known skaters with skills for careers in the sport of hockey.
"As most frozen Canadians, I grew up figure skating," said
Hanlen, who trained in Edmonton and passed her gold dances, senior free skate
and fifth figures test.
She also began working on her coaching certification, with plans of
being a figure skating coach. Instead, she felt a pull toward hockey and began
studying how to make hockey players better skaters.
"For some reason, even today, by the time hockey players get to
junior or even to the pros, some of them have never had a skating lesson. It
boggles the mind because you see how much better they can get," Hanlen
After studying biomechanics, Hanlen began training hockey players to be
better skaters. In 1980, she started to coach power skating at the Okanagan
In 1984, Skate Canada (then called the Canadian Figure Skating
Association) approached her to create a power skating program. While numerous
figure skating coaches taught power skating, their lack of knowledge of the
game of hockey minimized their effectiveness. She also became the first female
skating coach in the National Hockey League, working for nine years with the
Over time, she developed her Quantum Speed™ program (www.quantumspeed.ca), in which many hockey players and
coaches have participated. Having lacked mentors, Hanlen adopted the mindset
that she would mentor other coaches. While most of the coaches she's worked
with come from the sport of hockey, two are well-known figure skaters: Barbara
Underhill, who is now a skating coach for several NHL teams, and David Pelletier,
who recently joined the Quantum Speed team.
Hanlen's husband owns high-end retail skate stores in Edmonton, and in
2002, Canadian men's competitor Ben Ferreira was working for him as a skate
sharpener. Having finished fifth at that year's Canadian championships,
Ferreira, then 22, had decided to retire from competitive skating when Hanlen
took him under her wing to help him figure out what he wanted to do with the
rest of his life.
Most unexpectedly, Ferreira received a call telling him that, due to
retirements and withdrawals, he had been named to the Canadian team for the
2002 World Figure Skating Championships. He didn't have a coach at the time, so
he asked Hanlen if she could accompany him to worlds. Skate Canada's president
at the time, Marilyn Chidlow, knew Hanlen from the power skating program in the
'80s and agreed to the accreditation.
After Ferreira's 15th-place finish, he decided to continue competing and
found a new skating coach. When he retired in 2006, in addition to coaching
skating, he and his wife, Jadene, began collaborating with Hanlen on a business
called The Champions Journey, wherein he leads seminars for people interested
in making a transition in their lives.
Thanks to Ferreira's impressive finish at worlds, in 2002 Hanlen was
invited to be a presenter at the Skate Canada national team meetings, where she
met ice dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon and began mentoring
"I was viewing it from a business standpoint," she explained.
Dubreuil and Lauzon had a great coaching team as well as nutritionists,
sports psychologists, trainers, etc. Hanlen viewed her role as helping them
plan their lives for the future after competition.
"They were consciously creating their future," she said.
She continued to work with them as a mentor until their retirement
following the 2007 World Championships.
"I hold myself as a business person," said Hanlen, who is also
a sought-after motivational speaker. "I teach athletes how to maximize and
monetize what they're doing, regardless if they're staying in sport or not.
They have to have a plan."
She worked with two-time U.S. ladies champion Alissa Czisny for
several years. Attending college was a big part of Czisny's planning forward.
Hanlen described Czisny as willing to do the work to plan for her
"Skaters have to be open-minded enough to know that this
conversation can exist," Hanlen said.