Twists and turns: ’Stoga skaters hit the ice

Twists+and+turns%3A+%E2%80%99Stoga+skaters+hit+the+ice

Across the ice, sixteen girls glide in perfect synchronization. In matching outfits, they act as one, swirling, sliding and turning to their planned choreography. Synchronized skating is how two ice skaters at ’Stoga embrace the sport of figure skating. 

Junior Ava Thompson and freshman Yuting Pu dedicate hours to figure skating, practicing on ice and traveling across the region to compete. After extensive training, the two girls have both joined synchronized skating teams, where groups of eight to sixteen skaters work together as a unit on the ice to perform and compete. Thompson competes for Team Delaware, and Pu competes for a team at Oaks Center Ice.

​With all that time spent on the ice, Thompson and Pu have learned many lessons from figure skating.

​“Skating has taught me to be resilient and responsible, as well as being confident in myself,” Thompson said.​

For Thompson, whose mother was a competitive figure skater and coached her when she was young, figure skating has been a love that she has fostered since she was a child. 

“I started figure skating when I was 2, but I didn’t start skating competitively until I was 9. I don’t remember much about my mom’s coaching, but I remember that she taught me the basics: skating forwards, backwards and a few turns,” Thompson said.

She now practices at the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society and at the University of Delaware under five different coaches, where she feels more pressure to do well.​

As for Pu, her parents signed her up for group figure skating at a young age because of her small stature. She now takes private lessons at Oaks Center Ice under the instruction of a private coach.​

“I seriously began (figure skating) in seventh or sixth grade. I got into it because when I was little, I began taking group lessons, and I guess I continued after a while,” Pu said.​

Pu believes that figure skating has taught her “balance, how to work well with others (and) getting up if you fall down.” She loves the flexibility of the sport and the freedom it provides her.

​“It’s just fun to be on the ice,” Pu said. “You can do a lot of things on the ice; it’s just very versatile.”

​With the minimal coverage that synchronized skating gets in the media, it is inspiring that Thompson and Pu carry their love for the sport.​

“Skating is often overlooked and underestimated, especially synchronized skating. Synchronized skaters constantly have to prove their athleticism because not many people know about the sport since it is not in the Olympics yet,” Thompson said. “Synchro has taught me to fight for things that I love and to trust myself and my teammates.”