Middlebury College figure skater competes in World University Games
The 2023 FISU World University Games draw athletic talent from around the globe in what is considered the largest winter multi-sport collegiate athletic event on the planet.
And the event is happening this week at Lake Placid’s Olympic Center. Several Vermonters are competing in the Games, which are considered for some to be a springboard to the Winter Olympic Games.
Athletes ages 17 to 25 compete in sports including alpine and cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding, ski jumping and figure skating.
Middlebury College student Ting Cui, 20, will be one of them. She has high hopes for this year’s Games.
Vermont Public’s Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Ting Cui. Their conversation below has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Mitch Wertlieb: First, tell me what this competition means to you, especially since you're coming off a fairly serious injury.
Ting Cui: Yeah, I was sidelined and trying to get back on my feet and back into competitive mode for around two years. And I finally worked my way back up to a good competitive form this season. When I started the season, I had set this out as one of my goals, that I really wanted to qualify for the World University Games. And for the first time in a really long time, I was able to meet one of my season's goals, which was very exciting. And it makes it even better that I am now a college student, a college athlete at Middlebury College, and then I'll be able to represent them as well at the Games.
What was the injury that you suffered a couple of years ago that you're recovering from?
I had two ankle injuries all within the same year, the first one I was able to recover from in about six months. And then the second one was like a real injury of the same ligaments and bones. And so that took me out for quite a while, and then COVID hit, so the rinks closed down. I remember my first day back on the ice, I was so excited to be there. And then the very next day, I got the call that they closed down all the rinks, and so then I couldn't skate for quite a little bit again.
You must be so eager to compete now. Did you get the ankle injury, which obviously as a figure skater is going to be pretty serious, did that happen during practicing? Was it related to skating that you had that initial injury?
Yeah, the first time was on the ice. I was working on a really hard jump. And I rolled my ankle. I landed the wrong way. And then like completely rolled my ankle to the outside. And then the second time was off the ice, so without the protection of the boot. And I was doing rotational jumps, I was trying to go for a little bit more rotation. And I guess I just had a little bit less awareness on that landing. So instead of landing on the bottom of my foot, like how you normally would, I landed on top of it and like did a little swirl of my ankle. Super not fun.
"And I think what I love most is super basic, actually just the feeling of gliding on the ice, and like being able to turn so fluidly. You just can't really get that anywhere else, and I love the fluidity of movements on the ice. "Ting Cui, Middlebury College student athlete
And I understand that you're working in some interesting ways of training that sometimes have you training virtually.
Yeah, that's right. So I've been able to commute back and forth quite a bit between my home base at Middlebury College this semester. But while I'm at Middlebury and training, I'm on the Chip Kenyon Arena. And I work with my coach virtually a lot. So I'll have a little setup going, I have my laptop like balanced on the boards. And then that way my phone is free to connect to Bluetooth and play my program music. And so it's been a work-in-progress, trying to figure out all of that. But it's worked pretty well.
It's been nice, having my coach there to also just oversee things and help motivate me, because it is a lot harder to train while I'm at school, because I have classes. And then after I finish my classes, I'm mentally tired already, before I head to the rink. And so it's been nice having him there to just push me.
Tell me about the events that you're going to be competing in at the FISU Games. What are some of the events that you'll specifically be doing as a figure skater? And what are you hoping to achieve at these Games?
I'll be in the women's figure skating event. So that involves a short program, a long program. And then at the end, there's an exhibition gala, where we perform a show program. And that one is not scored. It's just kind of a showing.
I'm just really hoping to put out performances I can be proud of. I don't really have any results-based goals right now. But just going into this, I've had like, a couple of small obstacles with preparation, but I'm just hoping to be there and to show my best, whatever that looks like currently.
What do you love most about figure skating? How long have you been doing this?
Yeah, I've been doing this for 13 years now, since I was 7. And I think what I love most is super basic, actually just the feeling of gliding on the ice, and like being able to turn so fluidly. You just can't really get that anywhere else, and I love the fluidity of movements on the ice. It's way different. So I'm really into ballet, as I started doing ballet before I started skating. And so I'm classically trained in the grace and elegance, I guess. And it's just like a whole different shape when you move on the ice, which I think is pretty cool.
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