Westridge students compete in everything from basketball, to water polo, to equestrian events. One athlete, however, has been flying under the radar as a Westridge figure skater. Carolyn Islam ’12, a competitive figure skater, has participated in the sport for the past six years.
Figure skating is comprised of a series of divisions based on the age and skill level of skaters. Islam is in a division with other high school students.
“When you first begin skating, you automatically start with the first level. In order to move up, you must attend practices for that level and then pass a mandatory performance test,” Islam stated.
During such a performance, a skater is judged on ability to complete a series of technical and stylistic moves that correspond to his or her level.
“In the earlier levels, you are judged on technique, overall performance style and how well you complete basic jumps. As you advance, you are expected to complete more complex moves, as well as show strong technique and mastery of trickier moves, such as multi rotational jumps and spins,” Islam said. “Nothing is more satisfying than moving up a level, because I work so hard for it,” she added.
Islam enjoys figure skating because each new move builds from the basic jumps and rotations that she learned early on, giving her a very solid foundation within the sport.
“I have almost gotten the hang of the Lutz, which is one of my favorite moves. It is a jump requiring 1.5 rotations in the air,” Islam said. “I also love the Spiral, because it is the quintessential figure skating move where you glide with one leg extended in the air.”
Because there are so few figure skaters in Pasadena, she competes all across Southern California, especially in Anaheim and Burbank. “We have a new rink in Pasadena this year, which is amazing because it is Olympic size. That makes a big difference in competition.”
Even though so much of figure skating is comprised of technical ability, Islam points out that the sport is quite fun because the other half is really about how confident and performance ready you look on the ice.
“A few years ago, I did a ‘spotlight’ performance, which means that I was judged solely on my stylistic performance ability and not on technique,” stated Islam. “It was around Christmas, so everyone else skated to holiday songs, but I skated to Thriller. I actually rose onto the ice from behind a fake tombstone and had to learn a tricky little slide across the ice for the end of the piece. Figure skating requires practice, but little moments like that make it so much fun.”