Raynham teenager Mya Hebert adjusts to ice skating during COVID

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RAYNHAM – There are very few aspects of our lives that the COVID-19 pandemic has not touched, and figure skating is no exception.

Raynham’s teenager Mya Hebert has been skating since she was 4 years old. She started skating after going to the rink with her preschool class and hasn’t stopped since.

Now 15 and a freshman at West Bridgewater Middle Senior High School, Mya has been skating with her trainer, Ashley Knight, for a decade. She skates in figure skating competitions for the Ice Skating Institute and the United States, competing throughout Massachusetts, as well as Michigan, Virginia and New York. She hopes to one day become an Olympic figure skater.

“I don’t feel what I feel about skating with another sport. I just feel free,” she said.

Mya’s last competition before the pandemic was in January 2020. She traveled to Lake Placid, New York, and returned home with four golds and one silver. Upon her return home, she bought new skates and began working on tests to advance to level seven in freestyle skating.

On March 14, one day after the schools closed, Mya passed her test. But unbeknownst to him, it was the last time his skates had touched the ice in months.

Mya continued to train with her coach off the ice, doing jumps and weight lifting to strengthen her legs. But normally at this time of year, she was on the ice three to four times a week, competing every other weekend. She would prepare for the end of the figure skating season in May and June – the most important months for figure skating competitions.

“It was sad not being able to skate and not being able to do competitive shows and see so much of my skating friends,” she said.

After three months without skating, some rinks began to reopen in June. Mya and her trainer found an ice rink to train in, but there were a lot of COVID-19 restrictions. They had to register online for a limited time slot on a first come, first served basis, and only a small number of skaters and coaches were allowed on the ice. No spectators or parents were allowed in and she had to put her skates and gear inside her car.

The hardest part, Mya said, was having to wear a face mask while skating.

“It’s really hard to breathe with a mask on the rink. The condensation is really hard,” she said. “If you do a show and put on makeup, your makeup will run all over the mask. Your eye makeup will run off and if you wear any type of foundation or concealer that runs over the mask.”

While Mya was able to do the same types of routines as before, she said, facial expressions are important in artistic routines, and suddenly this form of expression was very limited.

Mya said she was happy to be back on the ice, but it was still about half the time she used to spend. And just as she was resuming skating three to four times a week, COVID-19 hit the hockey community and the rinks closed again for a few weeks.

Mya has now participated in three shows hosted by her local skating club and said the skating organizations plan to start the in-person competitions in June. But things are still not back to normal.

In a normal year, Mya’s mom Kristie Hebert said, there could be 35 friends and family at Mya’s shows just for Mya, and a similar crowd for 50 other skaters. It certainly won’t be the case at these competitions and shows, and Mya said it has an impact on how she feels when she skates.

“When you do routines and stuff, you have the crowd cheering you on, and I feel like it’s easier to perform in front of an audience rather than just like three people,” she said. .

Still, said Mya, she is happy to be back doing what she loves and looks forward to the day when she can skate for excited crowds with plenty of supporters.

“COVID has taught us not to take a lot of things for granted,” her mother said. “I just have to enjoy everything everyday.”


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