Alumna competes with team
by Mellisa Mulia
Graphic by Jayden Liu
Photo courtesy of Anna Nishida
Annie Nishida has an edge—a synchronized ice-skate edge coordinated with the other people on her team.
Synchronized skating is a team sport in which at least eight skaters are on the ice at one time. All the steps must be on the correct count and a little mistake from just one member can jeopardize the entire team.
Nishida has been skating for 20 years, ever since she was 5 years old, and competed with the Rose City Crystals synchronized skating team twice.
“I had a hardwood floor and would put on socks to pretend I was an ice skater,” Nishida said.
Her mom, catching her child sliding over the floor in an imitation of Kristi Yamaguchi, decided to sign her up for a class.
“I was 5 so I didn’t think of the future I thought I would do it for a few years and stop,” Nishida said.
After becoming accustomed to sliding on ice instead of wood. Nishida decided that the fancy jumps and spins of a solo skater were not as graceful and easy as it looked on the screen.
“At 13, I could tell that jumping was taking a toll on my body and I wasn’t about that anymore,” Nishida said.
When a coach told her to join the synchronized skating team, she abandoned the lonesome cold on the ice when she was a solo skater to join a team-based style of skating—synchronized skating.
“He told me to do tryouts, and the rest is history,” Nishida said.
In all the competitions that followed, every single step and beat has to be calculated, as one mistake can cost crucial points.
“The Pacific Midwest Regional, which was my last competition, was especially challenging. I didn’t want to be the person that ruined the team,” Nishida said.
Like every other time, Nishida laced up her skates and went out onto the ice, nerves higher than ever being as it was her very last competition.
“Most of the team was graduating so we knew—this would be our last time,” Nishida said.
However, as metal left ice and the competition was over, her team slid out with first place.
“We weren’t expecting it, as it was announced over the P.A. system. I can’t forget that feeling,” Nishida said.
From seeing Kristi Yamaguchi on the screen, a fellow Japanese American, to winning first place at her last competition, skating has become not just a sport but an escape.
“When I saw other Asians on television, I thought to myself that if she could do it, I can too,” Nishida said.
Nishida graduated from USC with a degree in screenwriting and is also a fitness instructor. But despite her interest in both writing and skating, she will never drop both.
“I am just going to keep skating until my team disbands. I am not interested in quitting,” Nishida said.
Nishida enjoys the creativity of both hobbies and the team aspect of synchronized skating.
In skating she has developed long-lasting relationships, one of which with the coach whom she has known for 15 years, and became not just a better skater but a better communicator.
“Before I was quiet, but in a team, you need to talk to each other. I learned to speak up for the benefits of the team,” Nishida said.
As Nishida did more competitive skating and even continued after college, ice skating went from a childhood fantasy to a real-life reality. Her new hopes are that one day synchronized skating would be an Olympic sport.
“No offense to curling, but if pair skating can be in the Olympics so can synchronized,” Nishida said.
But for now, she laces up her skates and sharpens her edges – ready for another round of practice on a cold Saturday morning with her fellow teammates.