My figure skating journey started when I was three-years-old. My mother, who was born in Minnesota, shared her love of the sport with me as soon as I was able to walk. I loved the chill of the air and the sense of freedom expressed when flying across the ice. When I was old enough, I began taking private lessons. My first lesson filled me with excitement and anticipation; I knew how to skate around, but I wanted to be in the Olympics! I was so eager to start learning. There was a skating dress sale at the rink that day, and I was instantly drawn to all of the pretty outfits – the sequins and sparkles were right up my alley. I wanted a pretty dress for myself, but my mom wouldn’t let me get one. She told me that if I stuck with skating long enough and took my lessons seriously, she would get me one. Little did we know that my love of the sport would become an affair that became the center of my adolescence, and many dresses would soon be mine.
Every day after school, my mom would drive 40 miles roundtrip from our home to take me to practice. Days were spent training on ice, doing ballet and going to Pilates or other off-ice conditioning practices. The commitment was trying, but the journey was invaluable. My coaches remain dear to me, my friends still my sisters. The competition drove us to work hard every day, support each other and push ourselves to be better.
Figure skating is a special sport—it’s an activity that my sister likes to call a “spart,” a sport-art. It demands incredible physical strength, flexibility, musicality, artistry and most of all, personality. Its well-rounded athleticism isn’t for the faint of heart, and its competitions require incredible mental training as well. It has taught me great lessons about discipline, hard work, and even fairness—when your efforts don’t pay off, the process itself is still valuable.
Clothing plays a pivotal role in figure skating. Practice wear needs to be streamlined as baggy or flapping clothing is too distracting in completing elements, so lululemon is a popular choice by many figure skaters. I love the many colors, cuts, and special fabrics that are used, and it really helps to turn even the roughest practice into a graceful and fashionable event.
Competition wear is a whole other story, where so much emphasis lies in the dress. Upper level skaters have couture dresses made for them, often designed specifically for a program. Each individual competition event features a unique dress—rarely are dresses repeated. When I was growing up, I spent free time designing my own dresses, something that spurred my interest in the fashion industry. The dresses made for competition are specially sparkled—each Swarovski crystal has to be individually beaded onto the dress; it is a daunting task for dressmakers and on occasion, me. I love the process of creating a new program—picking music, building choreography, and finishing off with a dress that embodies the theme of the routine. It becomes an extension of each skater, an outward representation of the passion, fire and energy that burns from within.
I am so excited for the Olympics to start. Though my dreams of winning the Olympic Gold will never be realized, I am eager to cheer on the USA and watch, awe-struck, at the lovely, fierce skaters that are representing our country. I can’t wait to see all of the programs (and of course outfits) come alive in Sochi.
What sport do you play? Why are you excited for the Olympics? Share with us on social media using the hashtag #collegefashionista!