Ice Princesses

Rotating in the air, straining to turn a third time, Katie Sing ’16 cheats the jump, her foot stopping in the ice, her body continuing to rotate. Limping off the rink, Sing learns her ankle is sprained, one  her of countless ice skating injuries in the past few years — a hairline fracture in her lower leg, a sprained ankle, a stress fracture in her right foot and bone bruising on her left being the others.

Sing returned to jumping in December but kept up her spins and footwork even while injured. She now skates four times a week for about two hours each and aims to compete more this year, having only competed in five local tournaments last year due to injury.

“I don’t skate as much as the other, more serious skaters,” Sing said. “I know people who go in the morning and after school every day. The really good people are homeschooled.”

Some of those “really good people” actually skate at the same rinks as Sing, frequenting the nearby Toyota Sports Arena and Paramount Iceland. Gracie Gold, the 2014 U.S. national champion who competed in Sochi this month and won a bronze medal, moved to southern California to train with World Figure Skating Hall of Fame coach Frank Carroll while Shotaro Omori, the 2013 World Junior bronze medalist, grew up in the region.

“All of my idols in skating actually skate at the same rink I do,” Sing said. “It’s really inspiring to see them skate.”

Sing began skating in kindergarten in the wintertime, looking for something festive to do, and decided to start competing at age 10 or 11.

“I really do like skating,” Sing said. “I haven’t really thought about why because I’ve skated for such a long time.”

This year, after many years of singles competition, Sing has joined an ice theater team, performing big shows and routines with up to 23 others, a mix of older and younger skaters.

Chloe Shi ’16 has also branched out beyond singles skating, participating in the less popular sport of synchronized skating. Shi actually learned how to skate as part of a synchronized team in kindergarten and still skates at the same rink, the Toyota Sports Center, as she did when she was younger.

“Originally I was totally against it because I thought by ice skating team they meant hockey,” Shi said. “I thought ‘no, I’m not going to play hockey for the life of me.’ Eventually I decided to give it a try, and it was actually really fun. It was my first time on the ice so I was really awkward, holding onto a cone and gripping the walls and everything. It was definitely trial by fire so I was forced to learn really fast.”

In synchronized skating, 16 girls or boys make formations, like pinwheels, circles and blocks, and also perform lines of footwork. Shi practices with her team on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, but also continues to practice individual routines for solo competition on Saturdays and Sundays after team practice.

Her practice schedule doesn’t usually conflict with schoolwork, but this year, as always, the sectional synchronized ice skating competition will take place during finals week in June. At the Middle School, Shi simply moved three of her finals, but this year she will have to miss sectionals. If her team makes it to nationals, as they have most years in the past, Shi will join them there.

“Definitely there are [times when I’ve considered quitting.] Skating season kind of overlaps with the just before Thanksgiving and just before winter break school rush,” Shi said. “If I’ve done it before, I can do it again. So that mentality and looking forward and thinking it will pass eventually is how I get through it.”

Some colleges have synchronized skating teams, and Shi looks forward to competing at that level in the future.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Shi said. “It’s unique, and I have a lot of really good friends. God, this sounds like what anyone says about anything ever, but it’s true. It’s just really fun.”

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