Blood, sweat and ice

Figure skaters display grueling intensity in practice, grace in competition

Maggie Trovato '19, School Staff

You don’t often hear of broken legs, bad knees, sliced fingers, or stitched heads and think of figure skating. Four Jones skaters put the myth of ice skating being easy to rest, revealing the difficult and dangerous aspects of the sport. Ask a skater about the injuries they’ve seen and experienced on ice and mouths will drop.

“I’ve seen a girl get run over and [had]  her stomach [spliced] open,” said Jordan Fray ‘20. “They were doing a wheel, where you go around in a circle and travel really fast. One of the girls fell and the other one ran over her.”

Maddie Falk ‘19 says that she even witnessed a skater go down before she performed at an ice skating show.

“There were a bunch of us backstage and this one girl got slashed by a blade. She had to go to the hospital. That was pretty bad,” she said.

Natalie Rudman ‘19 has not only beared witness to painful injuries but has experienced one herself.

“A week or two ago, my coach wasn’t there and we had one of our other coaches come. The other coach was like ‘Okay, do this and then stop,” she said. “So I did it. We were in  formation and were not connected. I couldn’t stop. I fell flat over my toepic (the jagged ridge at the front end of the blade) and snapped my neck. I was in so much pain. I couldn’t move my back or my neck for multiple days. It was so bad.”

But injuries aren’t the only thing that make figure skating an intense sport. Perfecting a spin or a jump takes relentless effort and practice.

“I’ve been trying to land my jump, an axle, for about three or four years, so it’s very difficult. You’ll get on the ice and you can spend two hours just jumping and falling,” said Fray.

Falk, who has been in the same situation, has even considered quitting.

“In the last couple years, I was working on a jump for a really long time. I felt like I was not getting better, so I was thinking about [quitting]. But I knew that I didn’t want to quit until I landed the jump, and I knew once I landed it, I wouldn’t want to quit.”

Falk isn’t the only skater at Jones who has contemplated quitting; Fray and Rudman have too. Even Frankie Kulwin ‘20, who fell in love with skating at the age of six, has considered it.

“I get frustrated easily,” Kulwin said. “I’ll get off the ice and have to take a break.”

But every time these skaters have wanted to quit, the addictive nature of the sport has pulled them back in.

“I always find myself coming back to it,” said Kulwin. “I had to take a year off when I got sick when I was younger, and that whole year I was like, ‘I just want to go back.’ I wanted to go back so badly. I missed it so much. I don’t think I could ever really completely stop.”

Rudman’s synchronized skating team is one force that keeps her on the ice week after week.

“I love my team,” she said. “We had a conversation a few days ago at synchro about why we skate. I remember my entire team was like, ‘Even when you’re out there, by yourself, practicing, you don’t feel like you’re alone.’ I always have friends out on the ice and I just love the atmosphere.”

For Kulwin, perfecting a trick is what keeps her skating.

“[The most rewarding thing about skating is] when you learn something new and when you finally get it. As we continue to move up levels, the elements that we have to do get harder and harder, the jumps have more rotations and they’re higher. The spins are more complicated and require more flexibility. So when you finally nail something and you know that you nailed it, it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment.”