Written by Julia Cheunkarndee
Freshman Shannon Lin placed second at Nationals for “Theater on Ice” in June last year, qualifying for the upcoming Nation’s Cup to be held from April 20 to April 23. The competition, which will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, features top teams from several countries around the world. All teams will compete in a form of figure skating known as “Theater on Ice,” which combines competitive figure skating with theater and dance to act out a certain story or emotion.
Lin began skating at 5 or 6 after she attended a birthday party at Winter Lodge, a local skating rink. As time went on, she began to appreciate the sport and the distinction it gave her. “Since there’s not a lot of figure skaters within my friends, it was more unique and I thought it would be more fun if I tried it out,” Lin said.
Lin’s first introduction to “Theater on Ice” came through a family friend who recommended that Lin try skating on the novice team, which needed new members. The sport had its differences from regular figure skating, as it was composed primarily of teams—rather than solos or duos—that competed together using choreography, music and costumes. “It’s a really team-collaborative event,” Lin said. “You don’t necessarily have to be good at figure skating to join, because as long as you just communicate with each other and make sure that you’re all doing your part, then it goes really well.”
Competition season usually begins in the spring. Nation’s Cup for Theater on Ice will be Lin’s first competition this year. Practicing and preparing for events such as these means that Lin spends about 13 hours on the ice per week. She skates almost every day, for 1.5 to 2.5 hours on average.
To maintain this level of dedication, Lin has worked out a routine. “Since sessions are really finicky, I sometimes skate public sessions, which are really annoying because you don’t want to run over a ton of little kids,” she said. “You have to make sure that you can make it to the freestyle sessions, which is why I usually wake up really early in the mornings—like 5:00—to go skate in the morning, and afterwards we go drive back to school.”
As she prepares for the upcoming national competition, Lin can still recall her previous insecurities surrounding the sport. As a 10-year-old, she knew none of the other skaters and had little knowledge of the sport’s requirements. “I didn’t know if I was good enough, since I’d never done ‘Theater on Ice’ before,” she said. “Once you continue on, it gets…more easy and fun, and you enjoy it more.”
A similar pattern of growth can be found in Lin’s most appreciated piece of advice. “If you really like the sport, continue with it, because figure skating requires a lot of hard work and perseverance,” she said. “If you only skate halfway through and don’t really try during the sessions, you can’t improve very fast, and you won’t learn to enjoy it.”
According to her coach, Laura Lipetsky, Lin’s hardworking personality and positive attitude have aided her throughout the years as she takes on harder jumps, spins, elements and test levels. In one case, Lin’s perseverance allowed to her to finally pass a test that she had already attempted several times. “She has a determination to be the best that she can be,” Lipetsky wrote in an email. “And most importantly, Shannon does it all with a great attitude which sets her apart from most kids…she is definitely someone to look up to.”