Student figure skater competes at nationals

Skater gurl

Matt Mead

Skater gurl

After nearly 15 years of climbing the ladder of figure skating competition, first-year retail merchandising student Molly Oberstar will skate a second time at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this weekend. The 20-year-old Duluth native qualified for the national competition in November after a first place finish at the Midwestern Sectional Championships in Sugarland, Texas. âÄúIt was my birthday when I was in Texas for that competition so it was a good birthday present to myself,âÄù Oberstar said. This year, she will be skating in the hopes of attaining the national title after placing 15th at last yearâÄôs competition , and said she feels more pressure going into this yearâÄôs nationals. âÄúThe first time, you donâÄôt really know what to expect. So youâÄôre just going out there, and youâÄôre just doing your job,âÄù she said. Oberstar, a distant relative to U.S. Congressman Jim Oberstar of MinnesotaâÄôs 8th district, began figure skating in Duluth when she was 5 years old. âÄúThen, I was just skating because I was having fun out on the ice,âÄù said Oberstar. But things have become more of a balancing act now that she is a University student, managing a five day-a-week practice schedule and competitions on top of course work. St. Paul Figure Skating Club director and OberstarâÄôs coach Ann Eidson said she has been proud of Oberstar’s ability to adjust to her new, and often stressful, lifestyle. “She did amazingly well adapting to new schedule and the demands of college life,âÄù Eidson said. âÄúShe was able to adapt and to really prioritize her life with homework and training so that she could be successful with both.” Eidson said OberstarâÄôs professors have been cooperative with the international-level competitions. Oberstar, for example, had to take a week-long absence in Vienna, Austria in October, and another week for the Midwestern Sectional Championships in November. OberstarâÄôs choreographer, Sebastien Britten , currently in Vietnam, said in an e-mail that âÄúMolly is a choreographerâÄôs dream come true.âÄù A former Olympian and former Canadian National Champion, Britten first came in contact with Oberstar in 2006. âÄúShe became my muse,âÄù Britten, who works and lives in Montreal, Canada said in the e-mail. âÄúHer desire to achieve stuff to perfection makes her unique, and one of the best artistic skaters in the world.âÄù Eidson and Britten have high hopes for Oberstar at the national competition taking place in Cleveland, Ohio this year. âÄúShe deserves it,âÄù Britten wrote. âÄúWith all the dedicated work she puts into this every single day, she deserves to shine.âÄù Her strongest asset, Eidson said, is that sheâÄôs the âÄútotal package.âÄù âÄúSheâÄôs a beautiful, artistic skater,âÄù Eidson said. Senior level single ladies begin competing on Thursday with short programs , followed by freestyle routines on Saturday. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships will be aired live on NBC on Saturday and Sunday. Oberstar was originally going to skate against 2006 Olympic participants Emily Hughes and Kimmie Meisner, but both pulled out of the competition early in the week due to injuries. As far as nerves for the big event, Oberstar said they can be helpful by getting the âÄúadrenaline pumping.âÄù âÄúIt makes you feel like youâÄôre in the heat of competition so youâÄôre actually a fighter,âÄù she said. âÄúYouâÄôre not just going out there to skate around. ItâÄôs not just a regular day. You have to be a fighter.âÄù