It is a season like no other in the sport of figure skating as U.S. ladies competitor Starr Andrews can attest. Over the summer, she took part in the Peggy Fleming Trophy, which was held as a virtual competition. In October, Andrews competed at Skate America, which was held without spectators at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Earlier this month, U.S. Figure Skating announced that the 2021 U.S. Championships will also take place at Orleans Arena rather than its originally planned location of San Jose, California.

“[At Skate America] they did a really good job trying to make it as comfortable as possible,” Andrews said. “We’re trying to be as safe as possible while having competitions. I miss the old competitions, but for now it’s good.”

Despite venue changes and being off the ice for an extended period last spring, Andrews, 19, has once again created a video sensation. She first came to public attention a decade ago when her performance to “I Whip My Hair” went viral on YouTube. Recently, it has been her poignant and powerful program to Mickey Guyton’s ballad “Black Like Me.”

“I signed up for the Peggy Fleming Trophy [an interpretive event], and I wanted to skate to something a little bit different,” said Andrews. “My coach, Derrick Delmore, found the song…I heard the first verse and thought, ‘This song is beautiful. I have to skate to it.’ We had four days to choreograph it. My coach and I crunched in some choreography.

“I was excited to perform it,” she added. “I was really happy people got to see that program. I poured my whole heart out. I wanted people to understand the message.”

During her three months off the ice when rinks in California were closed due to COVID-19, Andrews worked out at home and kept her stamina up by running a steep hill near her home. “It was definitely weird for me [to be off the ice for so long], but it gave my body time to recover,” she said.

Right now, Andrews is focused on training for the U.S. Championships in January. She knows there isn’t a lot of diversity in skating, and she feels fortunate to be competing and serving as a role model on and off the ice. “I hope to set a good example for all the little girls who want to figure skate,” she said.

This year was Andrews’ first time voting, and she was excited to be part of the political process. “Very important, especially with all that’s going on,” she said. “I think it’s important to vote because every vote counts.”