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MSU Intercollegiate Figure Skating makes historical first-time qualification for National Intercollegiate Finals

March 24, 2024
A member of the MSU Figure Skating Team poses for a portrait with a Spartan flag at Munn Ice Arena on March 22, 2024.
A member of the MSU Figure Skating Team poses for a portrait with a Spartan flag at Munn Ice Arena on March 22, 2024.

For the first time in school history, the Michigan State University intercollegiate figure skating team qualified for the National Intercollegiate Finals. The competition will take place in April at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York. 

President of the team and kinesiology senior Jamie Turnbull said making it to the finals meant a lot to her and the team. 

“It was like the whole room was electric,” Turnbull said. “We haven’t qualified, ever, so it was definitely really exciting for us as a team and because it was the main goal this season, so we were just really hoping to get to it.”

The result came as a surprise for the team because they originally thought that it wasn’t in the cards for them, she said.

Every season, there are three competitions and points are given to the teams that place in the top five of each competition. The top teams with the most points gained at the end of the season make it to nationals. 

“At the first competition, we didn't get any so it was kind of, it felt like a setback,” Turnbull said. “But we just decided to put our best foot forward because anything could happen.”


And what was once unexpected became a reality after they placed fourth and third in their next competitions, gaining enough points to allow them to qualify for the national final. For math senior Catie Glascott, the qualification was the product of years of build up. 

“This has been something that we've been talking about since I was a freshman,” Glascott said. “We were really close last year, so finding that we qualified was just so amazing. It was never something that I thought we could do.”

It also meant a lot for the team to find out together. Figure skating is largely an individual sport, with the members competing in their respective events by themselves. But for advertising junior Mary Srodawa, one of the best parts of the collegiate level is being part of that community.

“We have people standing there with you before you go on the ice and then the second you get off. Whether it was the best skate of your life or the worst skate of your life, you have teammates waiting for you to support you no matter what,” Srodawa said. 


The supportive nature of the team is a large part of fostering a positive environment. Finance senior Elizabeth Niemenski said they have really bonded and come together throughout her time at MSU.

“Some have only done it (ice skating) for a few years, some have been doing it for a long time,” Niemenski said. “And we've been kind of navigating this, you know, kind of collegiate skating together, which has been such a bonding experience for us.

The qualification for nationals was a product of this positive environment and also a season of hard work despite some difficult obstacles, such as limited rink time and being a fully self-funded team. 

The team only gets rink time at Munn Ice Arena, the on-campus ice rink, once a week for team practices on Sundays. This means that members have to organize carpools and maneuver around class schedules in order to find time to skate at off-campus rinks. 

Kinesiology junior Jordan Talty practices up to six times a week at the off-campus rink, but for those that don’t have a car, it can be really hard to get that much time on the ice, she said.

“I didn’t have a car till this semester on campus,” Talty said. “So before that…it would either have to be you'd have to just go when Munn had ice, which is very limited, or I'd have to find a ride.”


In addition to only getting one allotted practice each week, the team is entirely self-funded. Niemenski, the team's Treasurer, said things are more costly due to not receiving any funds from the university. For the time being, Niemenski said, they have to provide the funds themselves or set up fundraisers. 

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“With nationals coming up, it's been a bit tricky to try and figure out where to kind of get these funds which is why our GoFundMe is super important for our team,” Niemenski said. “Just so it can help us lower the costs for our girls to go so that everyone can experience nationals without heavy weight of it being so costly for them.”

However, costs are not just a concern for the national level; for every in-season competition, the team must come up with the funds for travel and overnight lodging because many last for an entire weekend. 

“I think even just being able to, you know, go to the gym and do a team workout or have the school give us money or have the school give us a charter bus for the weekend," Talty said. "Stuff like that would be really helpful because we don't get any of it."

Throughout the season, costs must be covered out of pocket from the team members themselves and through fundraisers that the team holds. While they have tried reaching out to MSU in previous years about setting up funding or recognition, Turnbull said, they never received a response.


Low funding can also be a detriment to other parts of the season. The team not only has to fund competitions, but also many other activities and programs. Niemenski said things like hay rides and group workout classes are programs they want to do but can't afford.

“At times where money is tight, we tend to skip those over and I feel like that's such a crucial thing for our team to get to know each other and bond,” Niemenski said. 

At the national level, money can severely impact their ability to participate by creating a large gap between them and other competing teams. 

“There are 16 teams (going to nationals), and as far as I know, every team that's going gets some sort of funding,” Turnbull said. “So it's gonna be definitely more competitive competition because the teams are at such a high level because they're able to afford multiple coaches and more practice and stuff.”

For the time being, the group has organized a Go Fund Me in order to get to nationals and it has been successful. The funds they receive from those donations are what is going to allow them to go to Lake Placid and enjoy their time there. 

“I mean, sure, medaling and placing would be absolutely amazing, but we're all just so proud that we even get to be there and get to travel to Lake Placid for this,” Srodawa said. 


With such high levels of competition and it also being their first year attending the competition, Turnbull said they aren’t putting too much pressure on themselves. 

“We’re just gonna try our best because we're also not really sure what to expect there, because we've never been, so it's kind of just a learning curve for us mostly,” she said. 

The competition is much more than competing. Glascott said they are also about having fun and being together as a team. 

“We spend the whole weekend together, we hang out, we go out to dinner and stuff. So that's really what makes those competitions so fun,” she said. “I'm really just excited to spend the time with my team and just soak it in, you know, all our hard work finally paying off.”

Going to nationals also gives the group one last chance to compete together this season. 

“As a senior, I feel so unbelievably grateful that I myself get to skate one last time before I graduate, but I get to see my teammates skate one last time too,” Niemenski said. “You know, I absolutely love cheering them all on and I am so unbelievably proud.”



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