More Than Leotards
Oyster, clam, flying camel, and pancake. These seem like unrelated words, but in the world of skating, they are well-known terms for describing different types of spins. Though modern competitive figure skating has been around since 1860, Atholton students and skaters Carley Milligan, Sarah Yasenka, and Courtney Bibbs agree that it has not gained the respect or popularity that many competitors and fans believe it deserves.
“It is a lot of work to keep practicing. It is a sport where you have to do it year round. It’s not like soccer where you can play for a season, take off for a year, and then come back next season and be back where you started. You have to constantly keep working and working,” said Junior figure skater Carley Milligan.
There are different types of figure skating, including Theatre on Ice and synchronized skating. Synchronized skating consists of a group of skaters gliding over the ice as a single unit, and Theatre on Ice includes individual skaters performing programs that tell a story.
Milligan has been skating since the age of four. She is going into her 13th year of skating, and she is now focusing more on performances and testing as opposed to competitive skating.
“I used to compete when I was younger, but it’s a lot of stress, time, and traveling. As the years have gone by, I have done less and less. Now I don’t really compete anymore, I just do performances,” said Milligan.
Milligan is currently preparing for her upcoming performance “Alice in Wonderland.” The show will be on March 27 and 28 at the Garden’s Ice House.
“There is an overall director, Jacques, and he picks music and then choreographs the music to the whole story. It’s a two-hour show, and it is just like watching the Nutcracker ballet, except you’re skating to it instead,” said Milligan.
After school, Milligan participates in POMS, and she has learned to balance her social life with school and skating. She practices two to three times a week, and each practice consists of two 45-minute sessions. Her biggest challenge is handling the stress caused by figure skating.
“It’s not usually a team sport, so it’s not like you can rely on other people. You are on your own,” said Milligan.
Milligan loves figure skating and plans to continue skating in college. She is unsure as to what she will pursue as a profession, but she expressed an interest in potentially coaching sometime in the future.
Though she has a fairly laid-back school schedule, Senior Courtney Bibbs is still busier than ever. Because figure skating is so time consuming, the biggest challenge she faces is balancing everything.
“I leave school after 4th period and usually go to the rink. I skate for two to two and a half hours; it depends on the day,” said Bibbs.
This year, Bibbs participated in regional competitions all over the country. The farthest she has gone for a competition is California, though the majority of the competitions have been on the east coast. Although she is busy with competing, she also performs in the Columbia production of the “Nutcracker.”
Skating involves practice and training, just like any other sport. Bibbs trains off the ice to help her improve on the ice.
“Off ice, we do Pilates or ballet, a little weight training and running…You need to be in good shape, and if you enjoy it, it’s fun. You learn a lot like discipline and perseverance. It teaches life lessons,” said Bibbs.
Sarah Yasenka dedicates much of her time to either skating or school. Although she is only a sophomore, she has been skating for nine years, and competing and performing in shows has become a major part of her life. She currently represents the Columbia Figure Skating Club and also skates at the Laurel ice rink.
“I’ve been to national competitions, and I went to Junior Nationals twice. One was in Ohio, one was in Utah, and for ensemble we went to France,” said Yasenka.
Yasenka practices five days a week for two and a half hours, and has little to no free time.
“I perform all the time. I do the Nutcracker at the Columbia show. I was Clara actually, last year. I do the show twice a year. It is the Nutcracker for the winter shows, but the spring shows always change,” said Yasenka.
While competing and performing, injuries are one of her biggest obstacles. However, she refuses to allow injuries to stop her from doing what she loves.
“I have a stress reaction in my back, which is like the step before a stress fracture. I have to take off a few weeks, but I’m still skating, just not jumping,” said Yasenka.
Though skating keeps them from playing other sports and spending time with friends, Milligan, Bibbs, and Yasenka couldn’t imagine pursuing any other lifestyle. Finding a balance between skating and other activities is a challenge, but the skaters agree that it is worthwhile, as their worlds are spinning with the numerous opportunities that skating provides.