Earlier this month, I participated in the figure skating events at this year’s State Games of America, held Aug. 4-7 in San Diego, Calif. This was my second trip to the biennially held Games, having also competed at in 2009 in Colorado Springs, Col.
Athletes qualified for the 2011 State Games of America by winning a medal at the 2009 State Games of America or in their local 2010 or 2011 state games. As a Pennsylvania resident, my local state games are the Keystone State Games PA Figure Skating Championships, held every January in York. I did well at these qualification events, winning silver in 2009 (State Games of America) and 2010 (Keystone State Games) and a gold in 2011 (Keystone State Games). When competing in these games, I represent the IceWorks Skating Club of Aston, Pa.
I competed in three events: freeskate, compulsory program and solo artistic. The freeskate event is the event that most spectators are familiar with. Skaters must include jumps, spins and other intricate moves to ensure that their program is well balanced and appropriate for their skating level. In the compulsory program event, a skater must create a program that contains specific techniques and elements that are determined by the competition organizers. This program is very short and is skated without music. No extra elements may be added. In an artistic event, the skater is not judged upon the difficulty of their elements but rather the artistic impression conveyed by their skating. Costuming and music are used to express the theme of the program and originality and creativity are rewarded.
I arrived in San Diego late in the evening Aug. 3. The first place I needed to visit was Athlete Check In, where I picked up my athlete credentials. On Friday night I marched in the Opening Ceremonies. The State Games of America are modeled after the Olympics, so the Opening Ceremonies are very similar.
All three of my events were held Saturday. The day began with a half-hour of practice ice at 7:15 a.m., followed by short amount of preparation time before the compulsory program event, which began at 8:15 a.m. I skated very well, despite the fact that I find skating without music to be very nerve racking. In the end, however, I was awarded with the gold medal. This bolstered my confidence going into the freeskate, the event where I am required to perform my most difficult elements. I skated to the “Bacchanale” from Saint-Saëns’ “Samson and Delilah.” Despite a small stumble during a footwork sequence, I again skated well and was rewarded with my second gold medal. My third event, the solo artistic, was not until 8:35 p.m. To keep my nerves in check, I went back to the hotel and took a nap. Even though the artistic program is not as technically challenging as either of the others, I was very anxious about it because it is new and I did not have a lot of competition experience with it. Skating to an Aretha Franklin medley, I was able to impress the judges and win my third gold medal.
My best showing at the 2009 Games was silver, so I was hoping to improve upon that this year with at least one gold. Only in my wildest dreams did I think I could sweep my events and come home with three of them! As a medal winner at the 2011 State Games of America, I am automatically eligible to compete in the 2013 Games, which will be held in Hershey, Pa. My skating goal before then is to pass the next set of moves in the field and freeskating tests so that I can move up a level.