Figure skating is a sport that’s easy to fall in love with. The athletes seem to float over the ice like a dancer moving across the dance floor.
But figure skating is not a sport that is easily accessible, especially in a city like Federal Way. It’s not like baseball, basketball or football, where there’s a field or gym at every school. Skating rinks are few and far between in Western Washington.
Like many others, Jordan Lee fell in love with figure skating after watching the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
“I told my mom instantly, I wanted to be just like the skaters I saw on TV and signed up for group lessons right away,” said Lee, 18.
The rest is history.
Lee has spent the past 11 years dedicated to figure skating and has won a pair of gold medals during her time on the ice. She trains at the Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway. Lee spends two hours a day, five days a week practicing at the rink.
Lee graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in the spring after attending Totem Middle School and Spring Valley Montessori. Lee is currently working through her freshman year at Pacific Lutheran University.
“Figure skating is my passion and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it,” she said. “Every day I have on the ice, I remember why I started skating and have continued to skate for so long. It gives me a joy nothing else does and has taught me the importance of hard work, dedication and perseverance. Pushing myself to reach my goals and experience the feeling of success and accomplishment are just some of the amazing things skating has offered me.”
Lee will accomplish another goal this month when she skates at the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectional Figure Skating Championships in Oakland. The most prestigious event on the West Coast will run Nov. 19-23 in California.
Lee qualified for sectionals last month by finishing in fourth place at the Pacific Northwest Regional Championships, which were held at the Sprinker Recreation Center.
“I was so surprised when I found out because I wasn’t expecting it at all and it was so far off from my original intentions for regionals,” Lee said. “This is a huge accomplishment for me and I am extremely glad I got this opportunity.”
But everything hasn’t been easy for Lee on the ice. A little over two years ago, Lee broke her ankle during practice and was forced to undergo surgery to insert metal screws to fix the problem.
“I can still remember the first time stepping on the ice when I finally got the OK to skate again,” Lee said. “It was like passion had been reborn and I had fallen in love with the sport all over again.”
Lee has faced many challenges during her years on the ice, said her coach, Heidi Sullivan. “She has never given up and has always returned to the ice more determined than before,” Sullivan said. “Jordan performs with so much joy and love for skating that she often brings the audience to tears. It is a testament to the athlete, performer and exceptional individual Jordan is.”
Lee’s younger sister has also gotten the figure skating bug, which has put a lot of strain on their single mother.
“Figure skating is a highly expensive sport,” Lee said. “This has made our financial situation very difficult and has presented us with many challenges. But she continues to support us and always puts us first.”
The Lee family has established a fundraising website to help pay for the nearly $2,000 bill to travel to Oakland for the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectional Figure Skating Championships. To donate, visit https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2ckD7. The top four finishers in each category will qualify for the 2014 United States Figure Skating Championships in January at the TD Garden in Boston.
“I am thrilled to be standing by Jordan’s side while she competes at the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships,” Sullivan said. “It is truly a moment I will treasure as a coach and skater.”