“What defines you?” While some answers may range from hidden talents to athletic abilities, this sophomore’s lies in one place: the ice. Marissa Ulchaker (`19) is a competitive figure skater, and on Thursday, May 4, she shared her talent with the rest of the sophomore class.
GILMOUR ON ICE: STUDENT STYLE
During advisory, sophomores reported to the ice rinks on campus and watched Ulchaker as she performed her Junior Free Dance and her Junior Short Dance. These two pieces will be executed on the ice while she competes for a spot in the 2017 National Solo Dance Finals later this year. After her performances, Ulchaker commented that she felt proud of herself for being able to skate in front of the entire sophomore class. She said, “I have to admit that skating in front of the entire tenth grade was very nerve racking [so] I found myself focusing a lot on my presentation and trying to appeal to the audience.”
LIFE ON THE ICE
Ulchaker’s life on the ice began when she was three years old, and she started to take private lessons at the age of six. Ulchaker shares that she owes her thanks to one of her coaches for pushing her to become more involved in figure skating, and starting then, she spent a greater amount of time and effort on the ice. Thus, at the age of eight years old, her competitive skating career commenced. In the years to follow, Ulchaker competed and medaled in numerous qualifying competitions.
OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL SKATE
For the past four years, Ulchaker has competed in the National Solo Dance Series and qualified each year in both of her events: Pattern Dance and Combined Dance. In 2016, she placed fifth in the nation in the Silver Pattern Dance event during the National Solo Dance Final. Ulchaker has also competed in the 2013 Artistic Showcase Nationals and has passed many tests that allow her to continue to advance in her skating career, including the Senior Moves in Field test, Pre-Gold Solo Dance tests, the Junior Solo Free Dance test, and the Intermediate Free Skate test. During her years on the ice, Ulchaker said that she met many phenomenal people throughout her career in places all across America, ranging from Delaware to Michigan, to Texas and Colorado.
In 2014, Ulchaker was executing a ‘pearl spin’ on the ice when she fell and hit her head. Not only did the figure skater have to spend days in the hospital, but she also had to take time off of the ice. This event befell her at the end of her competition season that year, shortly before the determination of the 2014 National Solo Dance Series Final qualifiers. However, despite her fall, Ulchaker was named a qualifier in both of her competitive events. Ulchaker stated that she was so grateful to qualify, but she was more grateful to have been able to skate again even after her fall.
THE COLD NEVER BOTHERED HER ANYWAY
Ulchaker said, “For me, skating is my own personal outlet. When I’m on the ice, I can clear my head and focus solely on myself and what I want to be at that moment.” She shared that skating has provided her with many important qualities that she can apply to her education and future professional life, including dedication and perseverance. Additionally, figure skating not only allows her to express herself through ice dance, but also through her costuming, which she has been designing herself for all of her competitions since she was 10. Throughout the entirety of her career, Ulchaker received support from friends and especially her family. She said, “From getting me to skating lessons every day, to cheering me on in the stands at competition, my family has always been there for me.”
Ulchaker is unsure where skating will take her in the future, but it will certainly remain an important part of her life. She said, “Skating means the world to me. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without ice dancing in it!”