LAYTON — There’s more to figure skating than what you see on TV.
This year, two Davis County skaters were among those to compete at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held in late January. Though neither participated in the televised senior competition, siblings Mitchell and Amalia Friess both tasted what it was like to compete at such a high level.
“It was very thrilling,” said Amalia, who was at the event for the first time. “I was nervous going onto the ice, but I knew that it was OK because I was already in the top 12 skaters at my level in the country.”
The competition, commonly referred to as Nationals, is divided into different age divisions. Winners in the senior division are often chosen for teams competing in the World Figure Skating Championships and even the Winter Olympics.
Fifteen-year-old Mitchell, who competed in the intermediate division, has gone to the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships for the past three years. This year, however, that competition was abolished, and all skaters were required to qualify at both regional and sectional levels.
“This year it was more exciting,” said Mitchell, who finished first in both regionals and sectionals. “We were skating on the same rinks as the seniors you see on TV. My favorite part was getting to see all the famous people in person.”
He didn’t have as much fun on the ice. Mitchell fell once in his short program, and did single jumps in place of the more complicated double jumps he had told judges he was doing. Though he felt better about his long program, he admitted that he fell there as well. He ended up finishing 10th overall.
“I learned a lot about my lack of mental expertise,” he said. “It’s important to have a strong mental ability as well as a strong physical ability.”
Twelve-year-old Amalia, who skated in the juvenile division, only had one program. Though she finished 11th in her division, she said that it was a good learning experience.
“I realized that it is OK to mess up during skating,” she said. “Everyone does it, including the skaters at the senior level. It isn’t a big deal.”
She’s looking forward to next year, when she moves up to intermediate level and will get to perform both a short and long program.
“It will be different,” she said. “I’ll keep learning new things such as spins and jumps.”
And, hopefully, she’ll be back at Nationals.
“My least favorite part was leaving,” she said. “I wanted to stay and continue my experience there.”