For several years, Emmanuel Savary and Starr Andrews were the lone African American skaters competing in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. After several injuries, Savary stepped away from the sport, leaving Andrews as the lone Black skater at the 2021 U.S. Championships. That picture changed in 2023, when Alexa Gasparotto joined Andrews in the senior women’s event.
Feeling disappointed by how his skating career halted, Savary has decided to return to competitive skating, and last weekend made a statement by winning the senior men’s event at the Middle Atlantic Figure Skating Championship, held at SkyRink at Chelsea Piers.
“It’s nice to be back; it’s been awhile,” said Savary, 25, who first competed in NYC when he was 11. “Happy to skate and looking forward to the future. I’m coming back for one more year. My swan song season, I guess you could say. The goal is to go to Nationals and skate the best that I can, and I can move on with my other goals in life. I’m finishing up college (studying physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware) and coaching a little bit as well.”
A student of Savary’s, Gabriella Alexander, made the trip to New York with her family to see him compete. “I hope to see more people who look like me skating in the near future,” she said. “Being on the ice is so magical.”
Nathan Chapple won the silver medal in the senior men’s event. “It felt great; it felt easy,” he said. “I like to perform, so it felt good. One of the major things I like to do is perform. I’d like to take that to a higher level.”
Gasparotto finished eighth overall in the senior women’s competition. She has been beset by several injuries over the past few months but is persevering in her training by prioritizing quality over quantity and adding physical therapy. Expectations are high because she is the recipient of this year’s Mabel Fairbanks Skatingly Yours Fund Elite Award, which provided her with $20,000 toward her training.
“I feel very supported,” she said. “I feel I’m turning into the role model that I always wanted to be.”
Rohene Ward and Amber Gil coach both Chapple and Gasparotto. “It’s important for them to put their programs out there and be seen,” said Ward. “I thought it was a great event. Very musical skaters.”