Eleven-year-old Medford resident Jenna Gordon has gone from afraid to set foot on the ice to competing at the U.S. figure skating national championship in just five years.
“When I was 6, my mom enrolled my sisters and I in a class once a week,” Jenna said. “I have loved to skate ever since.”
Though her sisters’ interests in the sport faded over time, Jenna has stuck with it and will now look to attain the highest honor she can achieve at her age.
Along with overcoming her fear to get off the bench and onto the ice, her success has not come easily. Jenna trains five days a week, for about three hours a day.
“I really like when I put in a lot of effort at training and it pays off in competition,” Jenna said. “I just love the feeling of jumping and flying through the air on the ice.”
To be a good pairs skater, contestants typically have to be good at singles skating, so Jenna focuses on dividing her time between training for singles and pairs. While she competes in singles at the intermediate level, she will be competing at the national competition with her partner, Ian Meyh.
Jenna’s mother and coaches discovered Meyh at the age of 15, so he is able to assist Jenna with the experience aspect.
“He was a perfect fit because of his size, age, skill and personality,” Jenna said. “He really helps keep me focused when we compete in pairs.”
Meyh’s dedication has played a big role in the success of the duo, as he regularly travels from Toms River to Mt. Laurel to practice with his partner.
The group had to pass two pairs of tests that were judged based on a number of skills and were then sent to the eastern sectional competition in Simsbury, Conn.
To qualify for the 2016 Prudential U.S. National Championships, the group would have to finish in the top four at sectionals. They finished first.
Jenna was so excited and proud of her performance she wore her gold medal the whole way home.
“It felt great that all my hard work paid off,” she said.
The national competition will take place on Jan. 16 in St. Paul, Minn., at the Xcel Energy Center. Though Jenna has competed at large events in the past such as a singles competition in Lake Placid, N.Y., she described competing in nationals among the top skaters in the country as a dream come true.
As for the future, she plans to continue pursuing her passion and to one day compete in the Olympics.
“We are very proud of what she has been able to achieve. She has an unusual degree of mental toughness for her age. She’s able to go out and compete, and does not get psyched out by other competitors or the level of the competition,” her mother Trish said.