Penn State Club Figure Skating Heads To First-Ever Nationals
Coming off of a tough few years, things are finally taking a turn for the better for Penn State’s club figure skating team.
Starting on April 1, the team will head up to Adrian, Michigan, to compete in a three-day national championship competition. Penn State is one of 16 qualifying teams to punch a ticket to the prestigious tournament this year.
The Nittany Lions’ team is comprised of 35 skaters, 20 of whom will compete starting Friday. The team is quite small compared to the 133,000 skaters who make up the complete U.S. Figure Skating roster.
This organization has a long history since its inception in the 1980s but has recently started elevating successes to a new level.
“There was a team in the 1980s, and then there weren’t enough members to keep it going,” said Mary Kate Weiser, the team’s senior public relations chair. “Around 2005-2006 was kind of when [the club] revived.”
Penn State club figure skating found substantial success in February 2020 when it qualified for the national championships for the first time. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly derailed those plans, as everything was ultimately canceled.
While that was a devastating blow, Penn State’s team got back on track this year when it competed in a few tournaments along the east coast.
“We competed at Princeton ‘virtually,’” said a skater in air quotes. “What we did was film our routine and send it in, and they judged us based on that.”
Hybrid competitions were definitely a first for the team and the program as a whole, but they helped restore a traditional sense of competition when the club competed at the University of Delaware a few weeks later. Together, the skaters took home third place in both competitions.
Those were major wins for the program, as the top four seeds from each conference — midwest, pacific coast, northeast, and southeast — received an automatic bid to the end-of-season competition. Penn State’s third-place finish in the southeast region at Princeton punched the team’s ticket to nationals.
The club figure skating team’s members have been skating for most of their lives, but now, they have a community of coaches, friends, and teammates to rely on.
“Figure skating as a whole is a very isolating sport because you are the only one on the ice and all eyes are on you,” said Weiser. “We have really done a good job of building a big family and supportive culture, which is rare for a lot of college figure skating programs.”
The team is always looking for new members. The only requirements are having your own pair of skates and attending practice. If you are interested in joining club figure skating, fill out their form linked here and be sure to follow the group on Instagram and TikTok.
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