Taking national ice: Figure skating competes for national championship

The Liberty University figure skating team took the ice at the U.S. Figure Skating National Intercollegiate Final April 12-16 in Lake Placid, New York. The Lady Flames faced a high level of competition, placing 15th out of 16 teams.

The competition was held on the ice of the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics, an experience many only dream of.

“It was kind of unreal,” senior Kamden Carrera said. “I think it being my last year on the team, it was just really cool to be in Lake Placid as the last destination. And then just being with the team and having a community that is like no other team, it’s just really cool.”

Photo by Noah Seidlitz

On the first day of competition, however, the Lady Flames struggled to perform their best as a team. 

“Our first day was a little rough,” Head Coach Courtney Kirschke said. “We didn’t have the greatest skates. There were a couple that were really good, but we just lost a lot of points on the first day. I think that put us just a little bit down — you know, discouraged. I think coming back the second and third days, it was a lot better.”

The Lady Flames closed out the competition in 15th place, earning a total of 112 points. Southeastern Sectional rival Delaware University earned the overall National Championship title with 303 points, earning 11 individual goal medals. Boston University won the silver medal with 273 points, while Dartmouth College placed third with 226 points and New York University placed fourth with 196 points.

“It was tough,” Kirschke said. “We were up against some really good teams. I feel like it’s hard going into nationals because we only compete against our Southern Conference teams, so then we have other conferences coming in that we don’t know what they have.”

Kirschke said that because of this, the focus was not on placements and points but on individual goals.

“I really feel like it was awesome to see the team accomplish individual goals,” Kirschke said. “But then the team also knew about each other’s goals. So, when someone came off the ice and did something that they were hoping to do, girls would come down into the wings and celebrate with each other. That was the most beautiful thing.”

Noah Seidlitz

One memorable moment was for sophomore Taylor Nordquist, who earned a bronze medal in the Excel Junior Free Skate as well as a pewter medal for her fourth-place finish in the Pre-Gold Solo Pattern Dance. 

“This was my first nationals with the team, so just that alone was really exciting,” Nordquist said. “I was really excited that I was able to get third. I was able to get two medals, which I was not expecting, so I was very grateful.”

Senior Kristine Neumeyer (Pre-Juvenile Free Skate) and freshmen Rachel Duncan (Pre-Preliminary Free Skate) and Amber Banghart (Preliminary Free Skate) also received pewter medals for their events.

“Just to be in Lake Placid and have the opportunity to be there, spread the gospel and skate for the Lord, that was just so amazing,” Nordquist said. “It was something that I’ve never experienced until I got here and got to collegiate skating. I was just really grateful that we even had the opportunity to go to nationals and do what we do and go out there and skate.”

Pais is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *