Brahmas slide into artistic competition

Gracefully gliding across the stage, three Diamond Bar High School athletes are venturing outside of traditional sports to something a bit more creative— figure skating. 

Among these athletes are senior Serena Shih, junior Katherine Ly and sophomore Melody Zhang; all introduced to the sport around the age of 6.

Shih was first exposed to the figure skating community when one of her friends invited her to go skating. This one hangout spurred her towards a continuing 10 year commitment to figure skating.

Having her very first competition in 5th grade, Shih said that her performance was neither outstanding nor poor. Despite this, she still ended up winning second place.

“My first competition was probably the scariest one of all the ones I’ve done, which is funny since my elements only got harder from there,” Shih said.

One of Shih’s notable figure skating achievements include a Double Gold Medal in Moves in the Field and Free Skate, both progress level tests that are equivalent to a Certificate of Merit test for instruments. What this means is that Shih has tested and passed at one of the highest levels of US figure skating. In addition to being ranked 22 in the Pacific Coast Section, Shih strove for even more when she also placed 77 nationally in the 2019-2020 season.

Unlike Shih, Ly was introduced to figure skating when her parents wanted her to start a sport. Ly had attended various tryouts for other sports; however, none of them clicked with her like figure skating did. 

Her most recent competition was on September 18 where she competed under the US Figure Skating club, a premiere training center for aspiring Olympians. As it was her first experience, she mentioned how nerve-wracking it was seeing so many other great figure skaters.

“I got a new view of competing from a professional point of view,” Ly said.

Some of Ly’s accomplishments in her figure skating career include winning first place at her first competition as well as her rink’s artistic trophy.

Zhang had a similar experience of being invited to go skating with her friends; since that day her career took off.

 “It was definitely scary at first but I felt very accomplished after skating for about 2 hours,” Zhang said. “Plus, my coaches were very patient and kind with me, so I asked my mom to sign me up for weekly lessons.”

Not only has figure skating affected Zhang physically, it also strengthened her mentality. Figure skating has pushed her to work out more and grow a tougher mindset when approaching things she is not instantly good at. 

When Zhang was faced with overwhelming conflicts that affected her figure skating career and felt she couldn’t overcome it, she would feel discouraged and oftentimes want to give up. In these times of troubles, Zhang has been motivated by her skating friends. Seeing how they could manage their own conflicts with skating always brought her back.

Some notable achievements of Zhang were winning a couple first place medals and trophies when she was younger and reaching the second highest level of certification for skating.

However, every athlete has their own challenges and slopes to overcome. In the past year, mental health has been a big struggle for her; Ly had a mental block for two months while learning how to land the difficult move of a double salchow. 

“It[figure skating] really is a coping mechanism for me when it comes to stress,” Ly said, “I enjoy when I skate fast when I’m angry because it helps me leave everything behind and forget about it for half an hour or an hour or however long I skate for”

All three individuals may continue to go through their ups and downs, but they ultimately persisted to get to where they are today.