Figure skating is an incredibly complex athletic endeavor. It requires balance, grace, coordination, flexibility, and – most importantly – the ability to dust yourself off and get right back up after you fall down (both literally and figuratively).
While kids can start classes as young as 3, most take it up a bit later when their attention spans are longer. But no matter what age you are, it can be grueling – and competing in the sport means lots of practice both on and off the ice.
When you see a young child skating, you know there are early mornings and late nights – both for them and their parents. But while some competitions can be open to young children, most national events have an age minimum and international competitions have fluctuated between ages 12 and 13 for entry.
In 2011, at the Ice Sports Industry (ISI) Skating Competition, a little girl named Sophia was just 6 years old when she pulled off a routine that won her first place in the Delta Character Spotlight category.
Delta is the highest level of basic skating for the ISI and skaters must be both over 5 years old and pass the Alpha and Beta skills tests. That means they have mastered both forward and backward skating, crossovers, T-stops, and certain kinds of turns, hops, and lunges.
For the ISI’s “Character Spotlight,” skaters perform a roughly 1-minute “fun” routine that emphasizes their acting ability rather than technical skills – but, of course, you have to have some of both. The character must be easily identifiable, according to the guidelines, and Sophia chose Minnie Mouse.
Presumably, her mother posted the video (though it’s not entirely clear) and the caption mentions that this is the last time she skated this particular routine, which included elements such as “bunny hop, waltz jump, lunge, Chinese arabesque, backward crossovers, mohawk, and half-flip.”
That’s all pretty impressive considering you have to pull those off while “being” Minnie Mouse at the same time!
After a few words of encouragement, Sophia confidently skates out onto the ice in her red polka-dot dress and hair bow. She even has a little mouse nose and – in case anyone wasn’t completely convinced – a picture of Minnie Mouse on her shirt.
Within 5 seconds, it’s already clear that you need lessons to do even part of what she’s doing on the ice.
She’s steady and confident as she pulls off some hops and spins.
And while there are certainly some acting skills involved, this isn’t stage play – she’s great on the ice. In fact, her coordination is better than that of most people on the sidewalk!
Sophia is able to skate on one foot, extend her leg, nail a little jump, and even run on the ice. Only once did she look even remotely unsteady and that was on one leg!
Her smile says it all as she polishes off her performance and ends it with her hands in the air.
As she skates off the ice in her last Minnie Mouse performance she can do so knowing that she’s absolutely crushed that routine and can move on to bigger and better things, if she chooses to.
In the end, Sophia’s routine shows us just how much a 6-year-old can accomplish with hard work and supportive parents.
And anyone who thinks figure skating isn’t a sport should try that Minnie Mouse routine on for size!
Be sure to scroll down below to see the adorable video – and remember, she’s only 6!
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