Swizzle! NIU Figure Skating impresses at first-ever competition

Della Carlsen, Ashley Grazutis and Dana Sivak
Della Carlsen, Ashley Grazutis and Dana Sivak

NIU Figure Skating took the ice for the first time March 5 and 6 at Bowling Green State University’s Falcon Invitational intercollegiate competition, sanctioned by the United States Figure Skating Association.

In its inaugural season, the club sports team scored 23 points to place sixth out of 15 schools. Adrian College won the event; the University of Michigan and Miami of Ohio took second and third, respectively.

Dana Sivak, president of the NIU figure skating team and a graduate student in the Nutrition and Dietetics program in the School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, met with club sports representatives prior to her studies at NIU to propose forming a figure skating team.

A year later, the team received funding and support to compete during the 2015-2016 academic season.

“When I competed for my undergraduate institution (University of Delaware) for four years, I fell in love with the intercollegiate division that U.S. Figure Skating offers,” Sivak said.

“When choosing to come to NIU for my graduate studies, I felt confident and compelled to create a team because of my prior leadership experience for Delaware.”

Three of the eight members of NIU Figure Skating traveled to Bowling Green to compete.

  • Dana Sivak competed in the senior ladies short program, preliminary dance and juvenile dance events, placing second, first and first respectively.
  • Team Treasurer Ashley Grazutis, a sophomore with a double major in middle grade science education and Spanish, placed second in her novice ladies free skate event.
  • Della Carlsen, a junior history major, won her preliminary ladies free skate event. Carlsen, who started skating when she was 7, took the sport back up when she learned at last year’s Involvement Fair that NIU had a figure skating team.
Dana Sivak
Dana Sivak

“This experience taught me so much about focusing on the job I have to do, and having confidence in doing it. I felt so proud to represent the Huskies along with my fellow teammates,” Grazutis said. “Skating has been a passionate of mine since I was 7 years old, and every experience I have helps me grow not only in my skills, but in my character.”

The intercollegiate division of U.S. Figure Skating divides the country into three geographical sections (Eastern, Midwestern and Pacific Coast).

Each school must compete in at least three competitions in an attempt to qualify for nationals, held each year in April. Athletes competes individually in short, free skate and/or ice dance events (preliminary through senior-level).

In the coming years, NIU hopes to be able to expand its team and compete three times throughout the season with the goal of qualifying to compete at nationals.

NIU figure skating practices Sunday afternoons at All Seasons Ice Rinks in Naperville. For more information, or to join, email dsivak@niu.edu.

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