When asked about the relationship between her skaters, Coach Laura Lipetsky said, “It's like a team at the rink, which is really nice”.
The coach adds, “It helps because the girls go and they can have fun in a positive environment.” In a high-pressure sport like figure skating, a supportive environment is extremely helpful to young skaters.
“Sometimes, I get annoyed when I see my girls goofing off on the ice. You paid for this session, you need to practice, you have a competition in a month, then I realize that’s how they cope with the pressure, it’s letting them be kids for a bit and that’s important too,” Coach Rudy Galindo said. He coaches several promising skaters from all over the Bay Area.
Two skaters talk by the boards during a morning practice session. PHOTO CREDIT: Maddie Knight
One of Coach Galindo’s students, Ava Stephens, supports this. A 15-year-old high school sophomore, Stephens said, “Skating is hard and can be stressful, and it really helps having supportive people around me, that can relate, that are sort of 'going through' the same thing.”
Speaking of goofing off on the ice, 14-year-old Kate Wang made Team USA over the summer and has competed in two major international competitions, Junior Grand Prix events in Russia and Italy.
Despite her recent success, Wang admits, “There’s a lot of joking, me and my friends talk a lot on the ice when we’re on the same session."
On TV, people view figure skating as a glamorous activity with ladies gliding around in heavily crystallized dresses in drama-filled competitions. In the practices skaters instead wear expensive brand workout clothes and knock off jumps with brutal efficiency.
This is all true, but that's not the full story. TV viewers don’t see the girls hugging each other after they get off the ice at competition, they don’t see all the falls in practice or the skaters helping each other up after them, and they don’t see the occasional pauses in the nonstop training to tell a funny joke.
They don’t see through the training to the relationships formed in the close community known as figure skaters.