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Senior Natalie Yang carves her passion on ice

Photo used with permission from Natalie Yang.
Senior Natalie Yang executes a Biellmann spin at the 2019 figure skating Crystalline Showcase.

As the arena falls silent, senior Natalie Yang glides gracefully across the icy rink. With a final, breathtaking leap, she jumps into the air, her figure under the spotlight as she executes a flawless double turn mid-air. Her blade cleanly slices through the ice surface as she lands with precision.

Yang began her figure skating journey at the age of five, falling in love with the sport after her first visit to a skating rink, guided by her mother. Transitioning from a recreational skater, Yang became more serious about the sport at age ten and started taking private lessons.

“The best part of being a skater is being able to do a lot of cool tricks that impress people like the triple salchow, which is a jump with two and a half rotations in the air,” Yang said.

Starting in middle school, Yang began competing individually and would train four days a week. A typical day for Yang consisted of waking up at five in the morning and traveling to Fremont to train at the San Jose Sharks facility. Her practice sessions included warming up with a few laps on the ice and practicing various jumps. On weekends, Yang engaged in off-ice training, focusing on conditioning to build strength outside of skating. This included exercises such as throwing medicine balls, doing squat jumps and running to improve stamina.

“Since I had training almost every day of the week, I needed to learn how to manage my time well and balance it with my other extracurricular activities,” Yang said. 

Figure skating demands extreme determination. As the sport becomes more challenging and as figure skaters take on more difficult jumps, progress takes time to happen. One of the most daunting aspects of figure skating is the fear of falling. To overcome this fear, Yang developed a more determined and bold mindset.

“Figure skating has made me more willing to try new things in life and become more curious,” Yang said.

Yang’s carefree and optimistic mentality has also helped her significantly throughout her journey in ice skating.

“She wasn’t ever stressed out,” Yang’s coach, Sherri Krahne-Thomas, said. ”She seems to really enjoy skating, and I think that’s one of the big things that really stood out when I was teaching her.” 

Yang’s background in dance has proven invaluable throughout her skating journey. Dance enhances a figure skater’s ability to express the artistic side of the sport.

“Dance has taught me to connect with music and express my artistry better,” Yang said. 

 On the other hand, competing in Chinese dance, Yang developed strength with skills such as front flips and aerials. The flexibility she gained from dance has also helped her in executing complex moves on the ice.

“All that dance she did played a big part in her skating,” Krahne-Thomas said. “She’s got this great mix of strength and flexibility, which just makes her naturally talented.”

Aside from skating competitively, Yang also teaches figure skating at Cupertino Ice Center on Saturdays. Once Yang turned 16 and was legally allowed to start working, she applied for the job right away, excited to share her passion for the sport with others. Yang, teaching both group and private lessons for beginners, adjusts her approach for different students; some are visual learners, while others learn better through verbal instructions.

As Yang heads off to college, she plans to join the ice skating team and continue pursuing her passion for skating.

“I plan to continue skating after high school,” Yang said. “I love meeting new people and especially bonding with others who have the same interests as me.”

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About the Contributor
Audrey Sun, Staffer
(she/her) Audrey Sun is a senior and a returning staffer for the Epic. Outside of school, she enjoys playing volleyball, trying out new recipes, and looking for new workouts on YouTube.

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