She’s the first to do so in the series' 27-year history!
A 21-year-old figure skater from California just became the first Black American figure skater to win an ISU Grand Prix medal since the beginning of the series.
Black people can do anything we put our minds to, including winter sports! Whether we’re working behind the scenes or playing in the game, winter sports like figure skating requires true skill, and the passion for it is often instilled during childhood. That's why we're thankful for programs like Dream Detroit Skating Academy, Detroit's first Black woman-owned figure skating club. Thanks to Angela Blocker-Loyd and Candice Tamakloe, who started the club to provide affordable lessons and expose children to the world of figure skating, we'll be seeing more stories like Starr Andrews' soon.
Starr Andrews was three years old when she first watched her mother figure skate. Once she grew up and got the green light to hit the ice, she went viral on YouTube for her figure skating routine to Willow Smith’s "Whip My Hair." That video gained 45 million hits on YouTube, gaining eyes from many publications, celebrities and new fans all over the world. She’s been recognized as the 2014 U.S. Juvenile Pewter Medalist, 2015-2016 Novice National Competitor, 2016 Skate Challenge Junior winner, and 2017 U.S. Junior Silver Medalist. Starr is a member of Team USA and was a part of the 2017 World Junior Team as well as a 2016 Athlete Alumni Ambassador Award recipient.
Now at 21 years old, she's making history! Last Saturday at Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, she performed a beautiful program to Lara Fabian’s remake of “Je Suis Malade.” She executed six triple jumps and a challenging double axel euler triple salchow. Her final score was 191.26, 10 points above her previous personal best, which put her second to Japan’s Rinka Watanabe. Her performance moved her from fifth place to second and made her the first U.S. Black figure skater to win an ISU Grand Prix medal since the series inception in 1995.
This is monumental for Andrews because she faced doubts and health scares in the years prior, making the feat difficult to achieve. “I’ve gone into this year with a different mindset, trying to not be so caught up in my head,” she said. “It helps a lot when I don’t think so much. It’s definitely paid off, even though my season didn’t start off so strongly, I was still getting used to my programs.” Seeing her name in the silver medalist spot on Saturday brought up many emotions for her. “That’s my name, that’s my name!” Andrews stated in the women's press conference, “I actually still feel like it’s a dream.”
Andrews told Team USA, “I think it’s a huge deal to be a woman of color in figure skating. I’m so proud I could represent. [It makes] bringing home a medal even more special. It’s really, really important, especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now.”
Her coach and choreographer Derrick Delmore and Peter Kongkasem couldn’t be prouder of her growth. Delmore, who trains in Lakewood, CA, said, “She has been running strong programs at home, but what I am most impressed with is even when things are not perfect [in practice], she’s kept going. She knows she can skate well even if there are errors. That weight has kind of been lifted off of her.”
Andrews wants to continue to diversify the sport in the United States and recognizes her being a Black figure skater is a big deal. She also plans to one day win gold at the Winter Olympics.
You’re a star, Starr. Congratulations!
Photo: Starr Andrews/Getty-Dustin Satloff