Student of the Week: Nicole Gander

Nicole Gander practices figure skating. Skating is something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life, said Gander

Nicole Gander practices figure skating. “Skating is something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life,” said Gander

When some think of the word “sports”, figure skating probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But just like basketball and baseball, skating involves a lot of passion and dedication. Junior Nicole Gander has been on the ice ever since second grade.

People pursue and continue a sport for a variety of reasons. Some join at a young age due to pressure from parents. Others, like Nikki, do so because of their appreciation of the art form.

“I ultimately chose skating because for me, it is the prime example of how something beautiful can be the culmination of strength and athleticism.” she said. “My favorite part of skating is the artistry and poise necessary to make all the raw strength look seamless and beautiful. I love how catapulting myself through the air on a blade an ⅛ of an inch thick nailed into a boot is an art form. In all reality, I love it because it’s probably one of the most ridiculous sports out there.”

Nikki had to push through difficulties and hardships to get where she is now. After enduring ankle injuries that eventually led to a torn hamstring, she was at a loss for what to do. “[I] was consistently earning poor results at competitions and couldn’t wait to get out of the rink after practices.” she said. But after a while, things began to change for the better.

“If there’s one thing Hollywood got right in figure skating movies, it’s that it can certainly bring out the worst in people.” Gander said. “I switched from an unhealthy relationship with my former coach to my current coach. She is the most understanding, kind, and genuine person I have ever met. She is patient and always willing to help me even outside of skating. Her consistent, unwavering kindness is what makes me passionate about skating.” Though there were many factors that encouraged her to quit, Nikki kept trying — the lowest point of someone’s career is the place where they can shine.

Nikki continues to skate and has recently started to teach classes in Superior. Her passion drives her to keep working and improving. “The hardest move for me is the double axel jump.” she said. “The axel jump is the only jump that takes off forwards, so one axel rotation is actually 1 ½ turns in the air.”