Every ice-skating rink has an unspoken pecking order, working from outside in. The rookies clutch the railing, stiffly inching along, as they gaze longingly out at the graceful skaters who make pirouettes look effortless. Senior Kendall Garrett and junior Polina Guseva both know the hard work and dedication required to become comfortable gliding around the center of the ice.
Both girls have years under their skates, making them into the competitive skaters they are today.
“I started skating when I was five,” Guseva said. “My mom just tied on my skates and told me to join my other friends on the ice. I’ve loved it since that very first day.”
On the other hand, Garrett started the sport seven years ago.
“[I started] actually pretty late for a competitive skater,” Garrett said. Despite her late start in the sport, she has risen to the occasion through consistent practice.
“I practice now about three to four days a week,” Garrett said, “but during a competitor season it was like six times. It’s 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. before school, which sucks.”
Like Garrett, Guseva also has put in numerous hours to keep her skills sharp.
“In my peak years of competing I would skate, go to school, then skate again after school as well as do off-ice conditioning with my coach” Guseva said.
Due to the highly competitive nature of this sport, elevation of training hours is crucial when it comes to competitions. These skaters both have worked their way up to skate at a national level.
“I’ve competed in local competitions since I was six,” Guseva said, “and won first place in the Southwest Pacific Region in 2009.”
Recently, Garrett competed in the Nationals in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Also known as the “Synchronized Skating Kick-Off Classic”, this event brings in teams from all over the US and Canada.
“Even though I’ve been to many Nationals, each one feels so new because you meet so many different people who have the same goals and passions as you” Garrett said.
Despite the immense time commitment skating entails, both skaters speak fondly of their sport.
“I think figure skating will remain the most influential part of my life” Guseva said. “I have made so many connections and friends through this sport.”
As for Garrett, she has taken many life lessons and skills from her time on the ice.
“I think I’ve learned how to work hard because coaches can only give you as much as you put in” Garrett said. “And in a sport where you fall everyday, the concept of getting back up is important physically and mentally.”
Figure skating and its influence continues to lead these athletes in new directions.
“Now, I work as a coach to hopefully inspire children to pursue this amazing sport” Guseva said.
Garrett intends to keep a pair of skates close by, no matter where life takes her.
“Depending where I go to college will determine if I continue to skate competitively,” Garrett said, “although I know I’ll never stop doing it for fun.”
Both Garrett and Guseva demonstrate the utmost dedication to their sport, proving that passion paired with practice are unstoppable forces for success.