At four every morning, Junior Dasha Kovalenko wakes up to skate for her two hour figure skating practice at Skatetown in Roseville.
She has been skating since she was six years old after her mom took her to the rink for fun.
“After that, I never wanted to leave the ice. I fell in love with it and eventually took it up as a sport,” said Kovalenko. Despite the early practice times, she cherishes every moment on the ice.
“There’s no better feeling than being on the ice. In the morning, the ice is untouched and it feels like I’m the only person in the world. Nothing else matters and all my problems and stress dissolve when my skates touch the ice,” said Kovalenko.
Her training consists of long and arduous conditioning such as running, ballet, jump rope and extensive stretching exercises. Her hard work paid off as of last year, she won nationals in the senior (highest) category.
Kovalenko completed all the US figure skating levels and is a “double gold medalist”.
Despite her success, she feels nervous before every competition, “[It’s] stressful and there’s lots of tension. Everyone is there to win and nothing else. I feel sick because I know it’s something I’ve been working towards my entire life,” said Kovalenko.
Additionally, she had an undefeated season last year winning all her competitions and was approached by a judge for an opportunity in show business. However, not every competition has gone smoothly.
At the Crystalline competition in Santa Rosa, right before her first event, she realized her skates were left in her brother’s car. After calling her mom, she found out her brother had been in a car crash and her mom was unable to attend that event and bring her skates.
Having to rush onto the ice, she borrowed a competitor’s pair of skates. “Not having your own skates is crucial. Skates can take weeks to break in and I only had a few moments to adjust,” said Kovalenko. “ I remember being so stressed because I had so much going on and couldn’t wrap my mind around the situation. The first event was not my best performance.”
Kovalenko was able to retaliate when her mom came back with her skates and skated what she calls the best competition of her life. Despite her prior setback, she won first overall in the competition.
“I skated to ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ which translates to ‘Please Don’t leave Me’. This was by far my favorite program because I felt connected to it. It was very emotional and I had to put myself in their shoes. For two and a half minutes, you’re someone else and are in a different world,”said Kovalenko. She will compete in three competitions this year and will hopefully continue with her success.