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Triple (Axel) Threat

This lawyer/figure skater/ice judge is the coolest

Asked to explain his love of figure skating, William Tran ’03 invokes legendary double Olympic gold medalist Dick Button: “Skating is the only time when you move without moving.”

“When you’re gliding and moving- without-moving to music,” says Tran, a competitive figure skater and judge who sunlights as a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer, “it’s really life-affirming.”

Tran toe-flipped for the sport in 1992, when Kristi Yamaguchi “yama-gold-ed” to Olympic glory. En route to an honors history degree at Swarthmore, he meticulously reserved the common TV between Dana and Hallowell to ice out with skating broadcasts.

“I’m sure people hated me,” he laughs.

It wasn’t until 2011, though, that Tran started skating. Competing in the adult men’s division, he won his first meet in 2013 and has since trained four days a week to pass up to the Adult Gold Moves in the Field tests. He also judges local, regional, and sectional skating competitions and is the Pasadena Figure Skating Club president.

“It’s like a second full-time job,” Tran says.  One of his greatest thrills came when Tran judged now-world champion skater Nathan Chen in 2016.

“He was doing these quadruple jumps that none of us had ever seen in person,” he says. “I just shook my head, like, This is an honor.”

Tran’s highlight as a skater was winning Adult Sectionals last year in front of family, friends, and colleagues in Burbank, Calif. A recent ankle injury may have cast doubt on his long-term competitive prospects, but the ultimate prize would be to become a national or— dare to dream—international judge.

“It’s just fun to travel the country doing something I love,” Tran says. “A lot of lawyers judge figure skating—we’re educated on how to apply the rules and articulate rationale.”