By MARY BURGER – STAFF WRITER
First-year Molly Holder has spent the majority of the past eleven years of her life on the ice. After being an attendant of different roller skating birthday parties, the Louisville native decided to try a different pair of skates. Holder’s passion for figure skating began at the young age of eight, when she attended the Louisville Skating Academy’s “Learn to Skate” class. She began to take private lessons following her coach’s encouragement.
“You have your program, and in your program you have a certain emotion you have to evoke. You can create any part of what you are feeling that day into your program,” Holder said. “So if it’s a sad song, you can take out all your anger in your program. It’s a really nice stress reliever.”
Holder maintained a vigorous skating schedule throughout high school. The toughest competitions take place in September and October, and during those months, she would practice in the mornings as early as 5:50 a.m. and then skate for three hours immediately following school. After those hours on the ice then came strength and conditioning workouts. During the summer months, Holder’s days would be filled with all-day skating sessions.
These long hours make up the determination and perseverance that Holder has come to associate with figure skating.
“Skating has built my character so much. For example, it took me a year and a half to land an axle,” Holder said. “I really learned persistence.”
Holder is regionally known for her ability to execute the Biellmann spin, a position that requires incredible flexibility and balance. She also created her own spin, which counts as a feature in her programs and is important to scoring.
Holder further works to improve her skill through a series of tests, which are similar to different belts in martial arts. These tests begin when a skater first starts learning and ends in the completion of the forty second test. She only has six tests remaining at this time.
As with all sports, figure skating has its challenges.
“The mind games are the hardest because you only have four minutes on the ice to show the judges that you are the best. You put all of your emotion out there, you are showing the judges who you are, and you’re very vulnerable,” Holder said. “You get up to that point and psych yourself out about landing tricks you always land at your home rink. It’s very mental.”
This mental tension easily occurs during tests or performances. Figure skating gets competitive, even among friends. But today’ skaters are tame when compared to the generation before. “They were like Dance Moms on crack,” Holder said.
Skating for eleven years has led to many amazing experiences, but Holder’s most memorable one occurred at the 2012 Regional Championship. She had a broken foot, but still managed to skate her best program ever.
The event also held an emotional significance to Holder. She had dedicated her performance to her mom’s best friends from high school, who passed away a few weeks prior to the performance. “Everyone was there from my whole life. It was a really cool moment when I noticed how well it worked out. It was painful with a broken foot, but with the adrenaline I didn’t feel it,” Holder said.
Holder is unable to skate as often as she used to without a car on campus, but when she does manage to get back on the ice, nothing has changed—she can still do all her old tricks. Over winter break, she rejoined her club to perform the Nutcracker on Ice.
There is also the potential for skating to reemerge in her future. Holder may take a gap year following graduation to fulfill a dream held by many, the opportunity to work for Disney. “A nationally ranked coach visited our rink once and told me I should join Disney on Ice. They travel all around Europe, everywhere. So that is in the plan, depending on how things go,” Holder said.
For Holder, the friendships made and the excitement of trying new things are the best parts about figure skating. Beyond her own personal skating, she also has worked as a junior instructor to help other developing young skaters. Holder enjoys her time spent in therapeutic programs as a way to give back.
“I love helping people out,” Holder said. “I love helping with the therapeutic program because it is so rewarding.”