Figure skating since the age of four, Emily shoots for the stars

Sophomore Emily Tvedt strikes a confident pose and smiles big during one of her big competition performances.
Sophomore Emily Tvedt strikes a confident pose and smiles big during one of her big competition performances.

By Chelsea Wallace
The cold air gusts around her, filling her with exhilaration. Her hair is pulled back into a low ponytail but her bangs sweep across her face in small strands as her movements become faster and more abrupt. Her cheeks and nose turn pink from the icy atmosphere but she doesn’t even mind. Everything around her seems to be whispering, “Keep going.” She soars around the rink with her head held high, skidding through the ice in a way that makes her feel graceful, strong and beautiful. Her heart beats loud and passion overcomes her. She hears nothing but the sound of her leather skates as they brush smoothly over the icy arena. She goes faster, faster, making it completely around the rink in only 30 strokes. Suddenly, she is transformed, she is somewhere new and all her troubles and worries are left far behind her as she skates off into her very own icy dream world.

Sophomore Emily Tvedt has been living this skater dream ever since she was four years old. She remembers watching TV when she was younger and gluing her eyes to the screen when she saw all the strong, beautiful ladies in pretty sparkly dresses swirling through the air with the most elegance. “I wanted to be like them,” says Emily. As Emily got older, she never gave up that dream and now she is more passionate about skating then ever.

Even in her younger years of skating, Emily stands tall and proud for her audience.
Even in her younger years of skating, Emily stands tall and proud for her audience.

The first time Emily went skating was Christmas Day when she was about three years old. “I was so shaky!” Emily says. She smiles big as she thinks back. “I was with my mom and my aunt. It was so intimidating and I remember being really frustrated as I watched everyone else soar past me with such ease,” says Emily. She didn’t let that stop her though; in fact, it lit a burning desire inside of her. Soon, Emily was begging her mother to let her take skating lessons.

Presently, Emily goes to skating lessons at an indoor arena in Cedar Rapids about three to four times per week. Normally, her sessions last for about an hour at a time. Originally the team is supposed to wear their leotards and tights to class every day but Emily laughs when she calls herself “lazy” in saying that she’d so much rather just throw on a T-shirt and some leggings.

Typically her lessons focus on basic skills and improving their technique. They even learn how to “safely fall” to reduce the amount of injuries. Emily loves practices but she said if she could change one thing about them, she would want the system to have a better weight lifting/strength building program. “Skaters need to be strong,” says Emily. “It’s hard to find times in my day to work out on my own and I feel like I would get more done if my teammates could be there with me. It’s something I think could really benefit us all.”

Emily’s team means the world to her and from the way she puts it, they feel the same about her. “I love my teammates and we are all so close,” says Emily. “It’s so cheesy to say this but I really do think of them as my family. Even when I’ve had a horrible time at practice and none of my jumps and turns seem to be hitting, they encourage me and build me up, reminding me how awesome I am.” Suddenly, Emily starts to get a bit emotional. “My senior friends there are my biggest role models and they’ve honestly been with me every step of the way. I don’t know what I’ll do when they leave for college next year,” Emily says.

Throughout the years, Emily has been through the good, the bad and the ugly and she has lots of stories to prove so. Her most embarrassing moment happened to her in third grade. “We had practice that night and I wanted to look cute with my little skater skirt and tights,” says Emily with a grin. “I worked hard on putting the outfit together but I really didn’t take into consideration the fact that my skirt and tights were very thin and transparent. Out of nowhere in the middle of practice my coach comes over and pulls my skirt up in front of everyone, revealing my underwear! It was so mortifying!” This memory will most likely stick with her her entire life as Emily admits that she certainly won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. From that day forward she always double (and triple) checks to make sure to wear the right undies!

According to Emily, the earlier you start skating, the better. She mentions that it’s difficult to skate while going through puberty years though. “Your body goes through so many changes at that time in your life so your center of balance is hard to locate,” says Emily. “It can be done though and overall it might make you even better!” says Emily. A smile never leaves her face. Even if you didn’t start as young as Emily did though, she says it’s never too late to start. However, if you do go down that path, Emily recommends that you get the help of a friend or instructor who is more knowledgeable about the sport.

Emily spinning“Don’t shoot for the stars the first time you skate or you’ll end up either disappointing or hurting yourself,” says Emily. “These things take time and you have to be patient. Go slow!”

Not only does Emily practice the sport, she competes by putting together her own music, choreography and costume. As Emily explains it, there are two types of skating competitions that she has participated in throughout the years. One of these is called ISI. This is where Emily and the other skaters can really show off all their twirls and jumps. “More people often attend the ISI competitions because they’re so entertaining not only for the audience but for the performers as well,” says Emily. Emily’s favorite ISI performance she’s ever done was the year she dressed as Rapunzel. “I worked so hard on the show and it turned out being really awesome,” says Emily. “Plus I loooved the costume!”

The second type of competition that Emily has been a part of is called USFSA. These competitions are the ones where people show off their basic skills for judges and an audience. “These are taken so seriously by some people because if you do really good, you could end up making it all the way to the Olympics,” says Emily. “I really don’t like to stress about things like that too much though because that can ruin your love for the sport!”

Currently, Emily wears a knee brace due to a strained MCL. She received this injury while practicing a double spin. “I’ve been working on this move for a long time,” says Emily. “It’s a hard thing to learn and incredibly difficult to perfect.” As Emily says, sitting out on practices can be quite a bore. “It’s frustrating watching all my other teammates out there skating while I’m sitting out,” says Emily. “I just want to be out there working on my moves.”

A strained MCL isn’t the only injury Emily has gotten from skating though. She once fractured her elbow as well which required her to sit out for a solid six weeks. “After being off the ice for so long, it’s hard to fully get back to where you were,” says Emily. She hates how this can put her behind. However, despite Emily’s bruises and bumps, she never once thinks of giving up. “It’s hard yes, but my teammates are so supportive of me, I don’t want our bond to break,” says Emily.

There’s nothing stopping this girl anytime soon. When Emily was asked what skating feels like to her she replied, “It’s the closest thing we have to flying.” She explains how she can glide so fast without even hardly moving her feet. “I take such pride in being able to say that I’m a skater. It’s a unique and a beautiful sport that is sadly uncommon in a lot of teens,” says Emily. She pauses for a bit, “One thing is for sure though, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today if it wasn’t for the love and support of my family, friends and most importantly, my teammates.”