Freshman Alisha Wang is a nationally ranked competitive figure skater


Freshman Alisha Wang glides on the ice doing a spiral. This trick requires the free leg to be above the skater's back. KYLE CRAWFORD / PHOTO
Freshman Alisha Wang glides on the ice doing a spiral. This trick requires the free leg to be above the skater’s back. KYLE CRAWFORD //  PHOTO

When did you first step on the ice?

The first time I stepped on the ice rink was when I was about 6 years old. When I first stepped on the ice, all I remember is that it was really scary at first, but I got the hang of it fast and didn’t need to use the wall anymore.

How do you feel before a jump?

Before a jump, skaters really aren’t able to feel or think anything. People who manually think are normally very cautious; therefore, they overthink the jump and fall. My coach has taught me that it is the people who just attack (the jump) are the ones who land and succeed. Same goes for a competition; people who attack will always do better than the slow, cautious ones.

What is your favorite part about figure skating?

My favorite part of ice skating is jumping. It is just amazing in the air. It feels like I am flying. In the skating world, my jumps are considered very big and open. People always ask me how I make it so big, and I just say, ‘I don’t know, you just kind of skate fast and hope that you’ll land on your feet.’ I’m lucky though because most of the time I do.

What makes skating special to you?

I think skating is very special to me because normally people say, ‘Oh, I play soccer’ or ‘Oh, I’m on a basketball or tennis team,’ but I never say that. I just say, ‘I’m a figure skater’ and people are always fascinated. Also, skating is really special to me because I have made a lot of my closest friends in the eight years I have been skating.

What has skating taught you?

It has taught me to be persistent and never give up. It has taught me about failure. People nowadays just assume that they will never fail or if they do fail, they are never taught how to deal with it. Skating has taught me it hurts to fall, but in order to get better, I need to get back up and try again and again and again. Persistence is key in this sport.

Why do you skate competitively?

I skate competitively because it’s just fun. My first competition was when I was seven and I was in Basic 5 at the Carmel Invitational. I didn’t have a dress so I bought a $70 one from the pro shop and got first. It was really scary and exhilarating but I still got first. I loved competing from then on.

How often do you practice a week?

As of right now, I have eight practices a day along with a ballet class focusing on stretches every week. I skate four days before school for an hour and a half, four evenings for two hours and an hour long ballet class. In the summer however, I am at the rink eight hours a day full of on-ice classes, off-ice classes, and freestyles every weekday.

What do your practices entail?

At the beginning of my practices, I do a warmup for about fifteen minutes consisting of moves in the field, figures and some exercises to get my muscles and blood going. Then, I spend fifteen minutes on spins so I can get the highest levels possible during competition. After that, I spend about half an hour on the jumps that are in my program. Following that, I do my program. Every jump I miss after my program, I have to do that section again until I land it. Then, I just work on new jumps, which are my triples, and new spins or connections steps.

What’s your favorite trick?

I love to do single axels and double axels because I can just fly into them. At competitions, I have a reputation (for them) and coaches and judges always want to watch them because mine aren’t squishy and small.

Called the "haircutter," Wang spins on the ice while holding her free leg near her head. Wang said her favorite trick is the axle jump. KYLE CRAWFORD / PHOTO
Called the “haircutter,” Wang spins on the ice while holding her free leg near her head. Wang said her favorite trick is the axle jump. KYLE CRAWFORD // PHOTO

What’s the most embarrassing event that has happened to you during a competition?

Last year at the Eastern Great Lakes Regional, it’s a really big competition, I just started my program and I was going full speed into my first jump. Right as I jumped, I got caught on a rut and completely went horizontal in the air and landed on my shoulder. (It was the) most painful thing I’ve ever done and right in front of the panel of judges and my coach. I was like, ‘Well, I can’t get off now, my coach is going to kill me.’ When I fell though, my shoulder popped out of its socket so I got up, popped it back in, took two pushes and went into my next jump. Surprisingly, I landed it along with the rest of my jumps. In that competition you have to make it into the top 5 to make it to the final round and guess what I got? Fifth. On the next practice ice, I had to warm up with all the skaters from each group that made final round in (an arm) sling. All the coaches were asking my coach and I why I was on this warm up in a sling just skating laps, and my coach kept explaining how I sprained my shoulder and still managed to make final round. They were all baffled and were like, ‘Good for her’. It was interesting.

What kind of outfits do you wear during competitions?

I have a lot of dresses for skating. Over the years, most of my dresses have either been made by hand or bought off of eBay. My freestyle music is to the theme song of Superman ,but by rules a freestyle dress cannot be a costume. If is a costume, I will be deducted points, so my coach made me a plain blue dress with an open back. The back is outlined with red to symbolize the cape and it has a yellow belt. On the front, she got her husband to bead an abstract version of the Superman ‘S’. It’s really unique and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments.

 What is your ice skating community like?

When I was little, I was always the youngest but over the years, most of them have either been quitting or going to college. Now, I am one of the oldest ones there and the little kids are looking up to me. I try to work hard every practice so I can be a good influence on them and help them every chance I get. Most of them are very nice and friendly but there’s always that one kid who gets in people’s ways.

Do you ever get tired of the cold?

I don’t really get tired of it. If it is really cold, I normally layer up in three jackets, gloves and some ear warmers. Also, when you get sick, the cold actually gets rid of the stuffy nose and skating just requires you to drink a lot of water.