Marissa Burgess of Columbus didn’t have a lot of hope that she could win the Helen M. McLoraine Figure Skating Scholarship a year ago.
She didn’t even fill out an application until the day before it was due.
Now, a year later, Burgess has won the $7,000 scholarship a second consecutive time.
“The first time, I really wasn’t expecting to win,” said Burgess, a 19-year-old who competes in the National Solo Dance Series.
A solo dancer is similar to ice dance pairs but without a partner. Burgess has qualified for the national event two consecutive years.
She has won a gold medal in solo ice dance (gold division) and a bronze in freestyle skating.
Forty scholarships were award this year through the McLoraine program.
To qualify, a skater must compete in a sectional or national event. Applicants then are judged based on academics, community service and financial need.
Helen M.McLoraine, a Chicago native and later a Denver resident until her death in 2003, was a major sponsor of U.S. gold medalist Scott Hamilton. Her love of skating led her to start the program in the 1960s, and today it is administered through U.S. Figure Skating.
“(McLoraine) was a philanthropist with a love for figure skating,” Burgess said. “I felt really grateful to win the award again.”
Now heading into her sophomore year at the University of Indianapolis, Burgess hopes to qualify for the nationals for a third time next year.
Competitors have to participate in a minimum of two competitions that are registered with the series.
The top six skaters in each of the three regions will make it to the National Solo Dance Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Jenni Cashen, 44, has been Burgess’s ice dance coach for the past 12 years.
“She’s a hard worker,” Cashen said of Burgess. “She’s always been able to balance her training and skating with work and other sports.”
Burgess is studying exercise science with a concentration in pre-physical therapy.
Despite being a college student, training wasn’t all that difficult for her this past year.
“I do train year round,” she said. “(But) I have to travel farther to find an ice rink (as a college student).”
Burgess trains five days a week. Right now she trains at the Hamilton Ice Center. Her sessions last for one or two hours at a time. Off the ice, she runs, bikes and stretches. She also works as a trial (figure skating) judge.
“What I do is watch the action and then mark the score that I would give the skater,” Burgess said. “I then compare my scores with the actual
judges. I try to get my score to be the same as theirs.”
A trial judge is basically an internship to become an actual figure skating judge. It also plays into Burgess’ long-term goals.
“I’d like to be a judge,” she said. “If I do, then I can come back and be a role model for all of the aspiring skaters that used to look up to me.”
Burgess hopes that her own children will grow to love the sport as much as she does.