Qualifying for the U.S Figure Skating Association championships was always a major goal for Angelina Huang, but one she figured would come much later in her figure skating career.
That was until hard work and opportunity met in perfect convergence right before Thanksgiving when Huang, a 12-year-old individual figure skater with a tireless work ethic, competed and won the Gold Medal in the Juvenile Ladies Division of the 2015 Midwest Sectional meet in Geneva, Illinois.
For Huang, it was a moment of both shock and overwhelming joy.
After competing against the top skaters from 22 different states, her sacrifice propelled her to a gold medal win in her age group.
“I think when I learned initially that I had won the gold medal it took me a little bit of time to process and realize what had happened,” Huang said. “Then when it finally began to sink in it was like, ‘I can’t believe I did it’ and it was such an exciting feeling to see all my hard work pay off like this.”
As a result of her gold medal victory, Huang qualified to compete in the United States Figure Skating Association Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Jan. 17.
“Angelina had a great performance and for her to win a gold medal in her division and be the only individual skater from Missouri – along with 11 other skaters from the region – to qualify for the Nationals is something we are very proud of,” said her father William Huang.
The gold medal win came just one month after Huang had won bronze at the 2015 Upper Great Lakes Regional meet in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Her father noted that figure skating seemed to be her passion, even as young as 6 years old.
“At first it was like, ‘OK you can try it, but you have to be able to do your ice time before and after school and still go to school,’” William said. “But once she started doing it, it was like we had to tell her, ‘hey, it’s time to stop,’ because we couldn’t get her away from the rink.”
Huang attended school at Sacred Heart Academy until fifth grade. At that point, the family decided home-schooling would be more beneficial and the move has worked out well.
“My week is three hours of skating practice a day along with homeschool six days a week and then Sunday off,” Huang said. “It’s a pretty full schedule but I have to train that way to be sharp on my routines and programs.”
Huang credits her mother Christina Chang, her father and her coaches Kelsey Himmel, Alex Ouriashev and Sima Baker with giving her the emotional support, encouragement and tools to be a shining star on the ice at this early stage of her career.
“My coaches and my parents have been there throughout for me – to push me and give me the encouragement to help me get to where I have,” Huang said.
He father said her work ethic and intense focus have allowed Huang to be stronger than ever this season as she heads to nationals.
“I think that is the biggest thing that has allowed her to do so well this year. She works very hard in practice and is very determined to do her best,” he said.
Preparing for qualifying meets is always stressful for Huang, and as she prepares for next month’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships in North Carolina, the pressure is only going to be heightened as one missed jump or mistake can doom her chances for a medal.
She is planning on sticking with what has worked for her all season long – a calm and simple strong focus on the technical elements of her routines.
“What works for me is keeping the approach simple when I compete,” Huang said. “I kept my focus on my practice routine and program and that carried well into my regional performance. I focus on my practice routines and that keeps me calm, focused and technically sharp.”