Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Delaware figure skating captures first national championship since 2016

SportsClub SportsDelaware figure skating captures first national championship since 2016

BY DANIEL STEENKAMER
Managing Sports Editor




KONNER METZ
Editor-in-Chief




University club figure skaters descended on Lake Placid, New York, this weekend in search of the program’s seventh national championship at the U.S. Figure Skating National Intercollegiate Final. 

303 team points later, Delaware took the trophy back to Newark, knocking off defending champ Boston University, which placed second with 273 points.

UD Figure Skating President Natalie Raab said the team knew a national title was within reach even though they were not necessarily “expecting” it. Once Delaware pulled away Saturday, elation began to set in.

“There were a lot of tears, there were a lot of smiles,” Raab, a senior nutrition and dietetics major, said. “I don’t think there’s a better word to sum it up than excitement. Pure excitement.”

Delaware was led by 20 double-digit-point-scoring individual performances, including sophomore Maddie Jordan’s 10 points with two bonus in International Solo Pattern Dance, junior Olivia Tennant’s 12 points with two bonus in Championship Junior Women Free Skate and freshman Bryan Lehmann’s 12 points with two bonus in Championship Junior Men Free Skate. 

The Blue Hens cleared the field of 16 teams in Lake Placid, which featured the University of Washington, the University of Pennsylvania and Western Michigan University all making debuts at the event. 

Raab pointed to a litany of seniors who made the trip as the backbone of the squad, whether they were competing or not. Raab, Vice President Emilee Rodolfo and sixth-year member David Shapiro all won individual national titles, while seniors Lily Zieg and Miabella Lovell also placed in the top three in their respective events.

Rodolfo placed first in her free dance event and second in her pattern dance event. After the free dance performance, she was greeted with excitement.

“I got off the ice and all my coaches came to me and were like, ‘That was the best we’ve ever seen you perform,’” Rodolfo said.

Freshman biological sciences major Bryan Lehmann could feel the drive from the senior class to secure a national championship before graduating. It showed in constant practices at the crack of dawn and a busy practice rink at Fred Rust Ice Arena.

“The difference between this year and last year was the amount of training I saw these athletes do,” Rodolfo said. “It was constant. You couldn’t go to the rink at any point and not see someone running their program and doing it all-out as hard as they could. And that made the biggest difference.”

Delaware won four straight national titles from 2013 to 2016, marking the Hens’ best run since grabbing the crown in 2002 and 2011. With the 2024 triumph at the Intercollegiate Final, Delaware is now tied with Boston U for the lead in team titles (seven) since the event began in 2000.

A stout freshman class, including Lehmann (who placed first in his free skate and pattern dance events), has the team in “really good hands,” Raab said. This year’s team, though, was the one to break the national title drought.

“I’ve been on the team for four years now, and to see this year’s team work as hard as they did, they earned this,” Raab said. “That was super special.”

As soon as Lehmann and junior teammate Olivia Tennant capped Saturday evening with first-place performances, Raab, Rodolfo and the coaches double-checked the math and knew the team was poised to take home the title. Finally, the national title would be heading back to Newark.

“It was just such a magical moment,” Lehmann said.

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