The Californian

Jessica Zhang straps on skates to soar

Brittany Jimena, Opinions Editor

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At the age of three, senior Jessica Zhang strapped on her first pair of ice skates and started her journey on the ice rink. 

Since then, Zhang has continued on in her figure skating career to win numerous awards , both individually and with her competitive ice theatre. 

When Zhang first started training, she looked up to Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan. 

“They were my inspiration to push through the rigorous training,” said Zhang, “but after I was injured I just kept skating because I loved it.” 

At  the age of 12, Zhang seriously injured her patella tendon in her left knee, making it very unstable and difficult to bear weight. This, in turn, forced her to stop competing individually and join the San Francisco Ice Theatre team.

With her figure skating team, Zhang has won four national titles and competed internationally twice representing the US.

“Jessica came into SFIT already a phenomenal skater with good skating skills,” said Gabby Tom, a teammate of Zhang’s. “Throughout the years, theatre on ice has taught her to become stronger at artistry, a key element to a great performance.”

Competing in such a rigorous sport requires intense practice and dedication, which Zhang is no stranger to. She spends about four hours a week training with her team and 10 hours a week working as a coach. 

A few years ago, when Zhang only competed individually she would wake up at 4 a.m. before school each day and practice at least 30 hours a week.

Zhang’s favorite part about ice skating is completing jumps. 

“There’s nothing quite like the feeling of successfully landing a difficult jump,” Zhang said. “In my opinion, it’s the most fun.” 

But ice skating does have its ups and downs. 

Because figure skating requires an immense amount of precision and skill, Zhang said it is easy to get frustrated and get impatient with the process.

Zhang’s favorite routine that she has ever performed was last year’s long program with her competitive ice theatre, which was an adaptation of “Black Swan.” The piece was highly dramatic, even causing some of the audience members to cry. 

It is also the team’s most challenging piece, requiring hours and hours of practice which ultimately helped her team win that year.

As a senior and with college quickly approaching, Zhang is not completely sure if she will continue to figure skate in the future.

 But Zhang would love to have the opportunity to continue skating. It has been a major part of her life that she dedicated a lot of time to and it also has shaped her into the person she is today.

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Jessica Zhang straps on skates to soar