STUDENT Spotlight
Ryan Dunk, competitive figure skater

Student Spotlight is a regularly-updated feature that highlights Baltimore County Public Schools students involved in a wide range of activities and programs. To see more student spotlights, click here.

Student Spotlight

Hereford Middle School
Grade 8

How long have you been a competitive figure skater?
I have been figure skating for about six years, and I’ve never considered quitting. There is no other sport that I would prefer to do.

How did you get started?
It all started out with watching Michelle Kwan on TV. I was very young, and my parents were watching a figure skating competition on TV. I remember watching Michelle Kwan and thinking wow, I wish I could do that. Watching figure skating on TV was one of the few times I was completely still and quiet as a young child.

Then, for a Christmas/New Year celebration, my family and I went skating at a local rink with some family friends. I saw figure skaters in the middle of the rink spinning and jumping and tried copying them. I was only six, and I couldn’t really teach myself a lot, but I impressed a lot of people and wanted to go back right away. My mom signed me up for a Learn-to-Skate class, and the rest is history. 

How are you doing now?
I am at the intermediate level (fourth highest level), and I have many goals that I would like to accomplish.

This past month, I competed at the South Atlantic Regional Championships in Alpharetta, Georgia (near Atlanta). There are nine regions in the United States for figure skating. Regionals are the first qualifying competition of the season. Regionals are considered a qualifying competition because it’s the first competition that decides whether or not you go on to the next qualifying competition which is sectionals. The top four of each region go on to sectionals. There are three sections in the United States. Our section is Eastern. If you place in the top four at sectionals, you qualify for nationals, which is the goal of every skater.

At regionals, I skated the short and long programs very well. I placed second overall with a combined personal best score. It was difficult keeping my nerves in check, but I relied on my training and tried to skate how I do in practice. The adrenaline helped me fly through my programs successfully, and I’m ready for sectionals which are November 18-20.

What does it take to be a good figure skater?
Figure skating requires lots and lots of practice. There are so many things to work on, including jumps, spins, footwork, stroking, strength, agility, ballet, choreography, figures and so much more. I practice six days a week for about 2-4 hours per day.

Skating is sometimes difficult to balance with other things in my life. I usually skate in the evenings, so I have to do homework in the car on the way to the rink (which is about 45 minutes away), or I wait until after skating to finish. I also play violin, which I have to practice a lot.

It’s hard to find time for everything, but I try to never procrastinate, and I try to balance my time efficiently.  

My parents sacrifice a lot to get me to skating rinks and competitions, and I try to remember to thank them all the time. They always tell me that skating is a privilege and that I am able to do it as long as I continue to do well in school.

How has figure skating changed you, impacted your life?
Skating has given me wings to fly. It’s a place that I feel safe. I’m usually a very shy person, but skating is a place where I can be confident, and sort of show off. My favorite jump is the triple salchow, and my favorite spin is the broken leg sit-spin. I can go out and become a new person on the ice and play different characters in my programs.

It has helped me become more artistic, and helped me feel music and become a better violinist. I think it has also made me become smarter because it helps me concentrate and focus. Figure skating involves very specific techniques and it always gives me something to try to make perfect. (I’m sort of a perfectionist.)

Overall, without skating I don’t know what I would do.  I hope to continue skating my entire life. Skating makes me feel alive and energized.

After you are finished with school, what do you envision as a future career?
I would like to have a career as a doctor or diplomat, but I think coaching and or planning choreography could be great second job.

 

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