Starr Andrews in her medal-winning free skate at Skate Canada (Robin Ritoss photo)

On Oct. 29, figure skater Starr Andrews made history as the first Black U.S. skater to medal at a Grand Prix competition when she placed second in the ladies’ event at Skate Canada International, the second stop on the International Skating Union Grand Prix circuit. The Grand Prix began in 1995. Making this historic medal even more significant is that Andrews’ coach, Derrick Delmore, is also Black.  

“She’s not only been consistently training, but also training consistently. In her training she’s been running programs with consistent elements,” said Delmore, who has worked with Andrews for nine years. “It was nice to see everything come together and for the skating community and the world to see what she’s been working so hard on.”

Her silver medal performance showed considerable maturity and development in Andrews’ skating. After an outstanding debut at the senior level in 2018, Andrews, 21, has struggled with consistency. Last season, she also dealt with a health issue, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which caused her heart rate to elevate to dangerous levels. An ablation procedure last spring has alleviated the condition.

Delmore said after an extremely disappointing short program at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Andrews said she was quitting. Delmore and fellow coach Peter Kongkasem told her the decision was totally hers. After skating much better in the free skate, Andrews said she was ready to continue.

Over the last few years, particularly in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter, Andrews has been more aware of race issues. “We are not only looking at the issues in the world at large, but also how they pertain to her as an individual and the potential impact that she can have as a young Black athlete in a sport that doesn’t have many Black athletes,” said Delmore. “Her program to ‘Black Like Me’ that she did during the pandemic…got all that great feedback. I think that was very empowering for her and made her feel like she was really standing with her community and using her athleticism and artistry to make a statement, which was wonderful.”

Delmore said he doesn’t realize historic accomplishments until they’re pointed out, and then he’s incredibly proud. Andrews’ next competition on the ISU Grand Prix circuit is the NHK Trophy next week in Japan.

 “What Starr has done and will continue to do will be remembered and respected,” Delmore said. “The expectation isn’t for her to be perfect all the time. It’s for her to be authentic.”

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