by Marisa MacDonald, Sports Reporter
photo contributed by Chloe Man
While humans can’t fly, figure skaters, with their intricate and gravity-defying moves on ice, come as close as humanly possible.
Junior Chloe Man knows this to be true more than most, dedicating most of her free time to competitive figure skating. Ever since her parents first put her in lessons about seven years ago, she has continued to train for her own ambition and passion for the sport.
“We watched the 2014 Olympics and all the figure skaters on TV,” Man said. “That’s really when I thought to get serious about this. I just stuck with it because I ended up really enjoying it.”
Man trains six days a week. Some days, she wakes up three hours before school to get on the ice, and then rushes back to the rink after the school day is over. She said homework and other extracurriculars have to be done during WIN blocks, late at night or even in the mornings if she was too tired the night before.
Practices, where she works to polish skills, prepare new moves or do simple workouts, can last hours, Man said.
“I’m on the ice for two to three hours a day. After that, I have off-ice for about an hour, which is conditioning and training the jumps off [of the] ice,” she said.
All of this effort culminates in her routines, otherwise known as programs, which Man performs at competitions.
One of Man’s many accomplishments in the world of figure skating is her status as a member of the United States Theatre on Ice team. Their competition is different from regular skating, as the category is focused on storytelling through performance.
“It’s described as ballet on ice, where you tell a story on the ice, but obviously there’s no talking,” she said. “In 2019, I went to France to compete with my team at an international competition, which was really cool.”
Even though skating is mainly an individual sport, Man said that her team creates an encouraging environment.
“We’re all really supportive of each other. It’s so fun,” she said. “Everyone’s mixed levels, it doesn’t really matter what elements you can do, everyone works together and we all have our own strengths,” she said.
Like many athletes, Man’s journey with the team was interrupted by COVID-19 in 2020. She still practiced at home, but being off of the ice for months took a toll on her training.
“We were off the ice for three or four months. During that time, we just did off-ice conditioning, our jumps off-ice and a lot of stretching, so [that] when we got back on the ice, it wouldn’t be too big of a deal,” she said. “But getting back on the ice was difficult because I lost most of my elements, and it took a while to get them back.”
Although it took time to build herself up again, Man said that it felt incredibly relieving to be back at the rink.
“It was a long three months trapped in my house without skating,” she said. “It felt really good to be back where I felt free.”
Man said that figure skating is a welcome reprieve from her everyday life.
“For me, it’s almost like an escape from reality. It’s different from just walking or running around. You just glide, and I love it,” she said.