Figure Skating Team Takes Great Strides to Build Community

After its creation last year, team draws skaters from all skill levels to compete


Ava Pihlstrom

Athletes pose as a team at the end of their routine from last year’s skating exhibition held at the Blake Ice Arena.

Emma Martinez Sutton, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Last winter, figure skaters in the middle and upper schools were able to join a new Blake team that consists of some practices and an exhibition. This year the team will participate in virtual events due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Since the team is so new and figure skating is often done individually outside of school, many students didn’t know that 15 students participate on the team until it was featured in a Bear Highlights video last month. Zoe Goodwin ’24, who is a longtime figure skater and member of the team, says, “It was really fun seeing all the different skaters at Blake because, for a long time, I thought I was like the only one… I didn’t know that there was that many… It was like I can relate to all these people now.”

Goodwin joined the team after learning of it in an email from the Athletic Office. She says, “Last year was the first year, so I was like ‘Oh this is kind of cool, I wonder what itís gonna be’… We had the exhibition, so I was there at Blake for the whole day and we learned the routine and we went onto the ice after and just kept doing it.” The team is coached by Kelley Cochran Smith ’98 who choreographed the exhibition program.

Due to COVID-19, there will not be an in-person exhibition this year. Team member Ava Pihlstrom ’22 says, “This year we were skating at Blake on Sundays until the rink shut down, and then there was this virtual competition that some of the skaters participated in it was like a group competition. And then in February or March thereís an individual competition where you can submit a video doing your program and then it gets judged.”

Pihlstrom continues, “I can’t skate in the group one because I tested out, but I’m doing the individual [where] you submit your whole routine program.”

Although it doesn’t have the same structure as many athletic teams, the figure skating team provides connection and a sense of community among figure skaters. Goodwin says, “Since it’s a smaller group of people and we all know each other… We can talk about what’s happening at Blake while we’re trying our skates or getting ready and that can, I think, create a closer community.”

Prior to the team’s creation last year, figure skaters practiced and competed solely outside of school and didnít reap the benefits of a team experience. This was certainly a marked difference from Pihlstromís long experience: “I skate year-round, and itís normally five or six days a week for one and a half to two hours each day. I started skating when I was three.”

Similarly, Goodwin says, “I’ve skated for 12 years… I’ve done individual skating and competing for my whole life and I recently joined a synchronized skating team.” Synchronized skating is also competitive and requires the completion of certain elements to gain points, but the routine is performed by a group and doesnít involve jumps.    

Goodwin shares that she’s drawn to the team aspect and sense of camaraderie versus individual skating.

To participate on the Blake team, figure skaters can join through the Athletic Office sign-up. Goodwin says, “If you figure skate and you’re not on the team I recommend it because… it feels a lot better knowing thereís a lot of other people doing your sport and you’re not alone.”