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  • Confidence, Health, Lifestyle, Sports

    My Figure Skating Journey

    On my third figure skating lesson, I broke my finger.

    It must have been a spectacular sight: my tall, fairly stable body was brought crashing to the ice by a girl not more than half my height and no less than a third of my age. It was really only a matter of time, seeing as I was older than everyone in my skill group by at least a decade. However, I had never truly felt my age until I was kneeling on the ice, finger throbbing, at eye level for the first time with my group mates and trying to comfort the crying young girl who had accidentally tripped me.

    A scenario like this had never really crossed my mind when I entered the sport.

    I decided to take lessons initially because a close friend of mine had introduced me to competitive figure skating as a spectator sport. I would watch full broadcasts of past World Championships and Grand Prix circuits while making art, doing homework, on long car trips, and whenever I had nothing in particular to do. Before I knew it, I had familiarized myself with all of the common terminologies of the sport and had a ranking list for which skaters I expected to win which medals at the 2018 Olympics. Watching the fast, dramatic, yet elegant athleticism of the top athletes reminded me of my days as a dancer in elementary school. I felt my childhood joy reigniting, and decided to give figure skating a shot. Yes, I may have under anticipated just how much time and effort would be needed before I could actually land a Lutz or perform a perfectly executed scratch-spin, but I was motivated like I never had been before and the world wasn’t about to stop me from trying.

    I asked for lessons for my seventeenth birthday.

    Even though the closest rink to me was thirty minutes away on a day with no traffic. I didn’t even own a pair of skates, yet I went to my first class that March. I was aware that I would be the oldest skater in my beginner group, as many of the female skaters my age were already in the professional bracket. However, the swarm of tiny five and six-year-old girls zooming around the ice in tutus caught me completely off guard.

    My newfound confidence dwindled.

    I was in way over my head thinking that I could ever reach the level of the awe-inspiring women I watched so religiously on Youtube. My dreams of standing on the top of a podium with a medal hanging proudly around my neck slipped into the realm of the unattainable. I doubted that I would ever even land a small bunny-hop, much less a graceful triple Salchow. It would only occur to me after I had passed the basic classes and looked back on them, that those tiny girls with all of their talent and potential, probably felt the same as I did. Suddenly I didn’t feel so different from my teammates, despite the fact that none of them could even tie their own skates yet. The throbbing in my left ring finger felt more like the first landmark on a long journey than a detour.

    It has been a year and a half since my first lesson.

    My finger has completely healed (except for a small bump in my knuckle that will probably never go away) and my coach has praised me for how fast I picked up on the technical elements of figure skating. She tells me to breathe before I take the ice for my first competition, and the gold medal I hang over my bed later that day makes me excited for what will come next.

  • Portfolio

    Figure Skating Champion Speaks Out on the Russian Olympic Ban

    Earlier this past December, the International Olympic Committee decided that due to past instances of systematic doping, Russian athletes would not be able to compete under their own flag at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Although they are giving clean athletes that ability to compete as neutrals under the Olympic flag, many are upset by this decision, calling it unfair to the clean or new Olympic athletes because it deprives them of the same right that other clean competitors get; the right to represent their own country.

    One such athlete who has come forward to discuss this issue is the two-time World Champion figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva. This would be Evgenia’s first chance to compete at the Olympics, since she was too young to compete in Sochi four years ago, but now she is having to weigh her options: compete under a neutral flag and possibly win the Games, or skip out on the most prestigious competition of her life because of the actions of her other teammates four years ago. As the World, National, Grand Prix champion, and current world record holder, Evgenia was a favorite to take the gold medal at the Olympics, but due to the Russian ban, she may not even be able to compete.

    Evgenia gave a short press conference about the ban early in December. In her speech, she was quick to call the ban unfair. “In 2014, I was 14 years old,” she says. “I was not even old enough to make the senior national team of my country… I do not understand why I and my Russian teammates can lose this chance.” Medvedeva, although she is still undecided, has said that she cannot accept competing under the neutral flag. She told the press she is “proud for [her] country, it is a great honor to let [her] represent it at the [Olympic] Games.”

    She concluded her speech by saying “everyone has dreams, and you probably already had a chance to fulfill your own. Let me do the same!” This is the sentiment felt by most other Russian Olympic hopefuls, and now time will tell if the Olympic Committee let Russia compete, or if anyone will go under the neutral flag.

  • Articles

    Finding Individuality as Twins

    It was the first day of eighth grade, and my first day at a school separate from my twin sister. During an introduction “get-to-know-you” game in my first period class, I asked one of my classmates a question, recognizing him as an old classmate from first grade. When he recognized me, instead of greeting me by my name ‘Lily’, he greeted me as ‘Zoë’s Twin’. I am still at that school, and being apart from Zoë all day has allowed me to build up an identity of my own, but at that time I felt that I never would. We, Zoë and I, have noticed that creating an individual identity, in school or otherwise, is definitely made more of a challenge by having a twin sibling.
    One reason finding our own identities was made a challenge to Zoë and I was because we were around each other most of the time, and we mostly spent time with just each other. We shared a room until around fourth grade, and still then we usually hung out in one another’s rooms until bedtime. Any of the friends one of us made quickly became both of our friends. Because of this, we never had the time apart from each other to grow our own personalities and identities. Now, as high school students in different schools, we hang out with different groups of people and are able to form our own identities and livelihoods.
    Despite this, we share many common interests that we express differently. For example, I go to an art magnet school, so I have developed my artistic interests in painting and sculpture. Zoë takes photography classes at her school, so her artistic interest is more in digitally manipulating photos that she has taken. We also both enjoy sewing costumes and garments, but while I am more general in what I like to sew, Zoë’s costumes are usually worn with a petticoat and look old-fashioned. So, while we are both art-oriented in our hobbies, our interests in the particulars of the hobbies are different. This is also relevant in media, such as the genres of the shows and movies that we like to watch. Because we do like the same things, some overlook the differences in what we enjoy. This had, early on, made it difficult for us to make our own style and separate our interests. In fact, when we were younger, we would have child arguments about ‘who stole whose drawing style’, despite both of our drawings just looking like kids’ pictures. Now we have come a long way in that area, and we both like different things, but can both relate to each other’s hobbies.
    It’s also very difficult for us to form our own identities because the public eye sees twins as a unit, not as two individual people. Sometimes when Zoë or I are somewhere without one another, the first question people tend to ask us is “where’s your sister?”. A countless number of people have asked me if Zoë and I will live together after college, and many friends of ours also feel obligated to invite both of us to parties or get-togethers, instead of just one of us. Obviously, this idea of twins being more of a unit than two separate people makes it difficult for us to create different images of ourselves.
    While it is more difficult to find individuality as a twin, that doesn’t mean that being a twin isn’t fun. Being so similar also means that Zoë and I have a lot in common that we can talk about, and we can rely on that connection. We are best friends as much as we are sisters.

  • Artwork

    On Memories and Impactful Times

    This piece was inspired by my Grandmother and what I learned from my time spent with her spent as a child. She impacted me in many was, and she has spurred some of my most prominent interests. From her, I became interested in sewing, which is a hobby I still hold as very important as I incorporate it in many of my art pieces.

    I chose my materials accordingly, using wood, fabric, and thread as they created an antique and homey feel for the piece. I collaged the circles of wood with pages from books and sheet music as an ode to my Grandmother’s piano (which helped inspire me to take lessons later on), and her library that is filled with old books and warm sunlight.

  • Shero

    (S)hero: Evgenia Medvedeva; 2016 ISU Grand Prix Champion

    At 17 years of age, Russia’s Evgenia Armanovna Medvedeva (Евгения Армановна Медведева) won her second gold medal at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Marseille, France on December 10th, 2016. She is also the 2016 World Champion, as well as the 2016 European Champion. She is the current world record holder for both the lady’s Short Program (79.21) and Free Skate (150.10). Medvedeva is also the only female singles skater to win gold in the senior division of Worlds the year after she won gold in the junior division. She is able to pull of several high difficulty combination jumps ending in a Triple Toe, including the Triple Salchow-Triple Toe, the Triple Loop-Triple Toe, and the Triple Flip-Triple Toe.

    Evgenia has been skating since she was three year old. She joined the Olympic Reserve Sports School no. 37 in 2008, and made her Senior National debut in 2012. Her international debut was in 2013 in the 2013-14 season if the ISU Junior Grand Prix, where she won gold in Riga, Latvia and Gdańsk, Poland. In 2015, she became old enough to compete in the senior division of the ISU Grand Prix in Barcelona, where she won gold in both Skate America and the Grand Prix Final.

    Her Short Program for the 2016 Grand Prix was to the music “River Flows in You” by Yiruma and “The Winter” by Balmorhea, and was choreographed by Ilia Averbukh, who also choreographed her Free Skate program to “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”.

    Evgenia is an inspiration to many young girls around the world, whether in Figure Skating or otherwise, because of her determination and commitment to what she does best. She has a large following on social media with as very popular twitter (@JannyMedvedeva) and Instagram (@jmedvedevaj). Evgenia Medvedeva is a superb example of young ability, and she shows the world that you do not have to be an adult to try hard and succeed in your passions.