Starr Andrews aims to start 2022 with strong performances Credit: (U.S. Figure Skating photo

New mask mandates in California mean that figure skaters are wearing masks even on the ice. Starr Andrews, who is preparing for the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, is giving it a positive spin. “It’s helping with my stamina,” said Andrews, who will be making her fifth appearance in the senior women’s division.

The U.S. Championships, which are taking place in Nashville, Tennessee, begin on Jan. 3. Training has been going well, and Andrews feels she’s in top shape, having focused on her fitness this year. She has incorporated Pilates into her off-ice regimen.

“I’m really excited,” said Andrews, 20, of the upcoming national championships. “It’s going to be nice that there’s going to be a crowd this year [at the 2021 U.S. Championships the skaters performed to cardboard cutouts and pre-recorded applause due to the pandemic]. I feel prepared. I’ve been running good programs. My jumps are going well.”

This year has had its challenges. In November, Andrews withdrew from the Internationaux de France Grand Prix event due to a health issue. At times, her heart rate jumps, and that happened shortly before she started her short program. She attempted to skate, but could not complete it. Now, she’s feeling good and ready to vie for a spot on the U.S. team for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.

“To do well at this Nationals is a big goal for me,” said Andrews. “I’ve been working so hard in my practices. I feel harder than I’ve ever practiced before. … I’m really excited to go to Nashville and show what I’ve been working on. I’m hoping I can put out really good programs and show my growth as a skater.”

Also a gifted singer and musician, Andrews will skate to her own rendition of “At Last” for her short program. For the free skate, she’s chosen two songs of Beyoncé’s, “Bigger” and “I Was Here.” Both programs were choreographed by her long-time coach Derrick Delmore and show her maturation.

“I feel calmer going into competitions,” said Andrews. “Before I was really antsy and nervous. I didn’t feel as confident. This year I feel completely different than I did last year.”

Earlier this year Andrews received a boost when she was named the inaugural recipient of a training grant from the Mabel Fairbanks Skatingly Yours Fund, which was established to support BIPOC skaters. “That was a blessing for me,” said Andrews. “I feel so fortunate to have been granted that.”

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