UCLA club figure skating places seventh at the 2023 National Intercollegiate Final
UCLA figure skating poses with its banner. The Bruins got their second seventh-place finish in a row at this year’s national championships. (Courtesy of Paul Yeung)
April 23, 2023 10:01 p.m.
Balancing hosting and doing well with their own skating, the Bruins secured their second consecutive top-seven finish in the country.
UCLA club figure skating came in seventh out of 16 teams at the 2023 National Intercollegiate Final in Anaheim from April 13-15 after qualifying for the event earlier in the season. The placing was highlighted by the group’s first-ever High Team Maneuvers first-place finish at the national level.
“It was a really, really special moment because it’s never happened before and it’s very, very competitive,” said co-president and senior Andreanne Sannajust. “The best part of collegiate skating – it’s just everyone is cheering and screaming in the boards for everybody. And regardless of how you do, everyone is so proud.”
Despite a full roster this year, the Bruins haven’t always had that opportunity. Originally sporting 12 athletes through the 2021-2022 season, UCLA’s roster nearly doubled in size with its 2022-2023 class, markedly improving its level of skating. Despite having to ask members of the team to skate multiple events last year, this year the Bruins were able to send starters to several events because of the high demand.
Alongside the high nationals finish, UCLA won its first competition in years in Denver earlier this season. Senior Ariel Davydov said the experience was irreplaceable.
“We always do well, but winning a competition was just completely unexpected. It was such an amazing memory,” Davydov said. “For a lot of us, we balance rigorous academics as well as figure skating. So our culture is a bit different than some of these other schools.”
Davydov doubles as the other co-president of the club, and stated that the breadth of schools competing – alongside the intensity of several programs, a variety of which were varsity – added a hint of pressure to the Bruin squad.
Competing in the largest group of all events – the Excel Juvenile Women Free Skate with 24 competitors – Davydov said she was trying to have the best experience possible at her final collegiate figure skating nationals. The senior placed 11th in the nation in the event.
She credited the hours of training she put in for the result.
“I was training a lot leading up to it, putting in a ton of hours, … making sure that when the time comes, even through all the nerves, I would still be able to perform the way I wanted to,” Davydov said. “And it ended up going really great.”
Alongside her individual skate, Davydov was a part of the Intermediate Team Maneuvers event, in which UCLA placed fourth for the first time in program history.
Part of the High Team Maneuvers squad that took home first, Rebecca Li made program history twice, as the club’s competition chair spent the weekend ensuring the Bruins’ first-ever home nationals went smoothly. The junior also took home 14th in the Excel Senior Women Free Skate.
“It was just a really exhausting week, so I was definitely tired and nervous about having to compete on top of everything else,” Li said. “I’d been handling it over the weekend, but the entire skating team is always really, really supportive. And I think having been there definitely helped even though I was nervous going in.”
The High Team Maneuvers team is composed of six skaters and placed the best out of any Bruin squad.
All three Team Maneuvers events proved fruitful for UCLA, with the Bruins securing a top-10 finish in each.
“Team Maneuvers is always a really fun event,” Li said. “The camaraderie and team spirit that all the teams displayed during it is always really exciting to see. … So the fact that we (the High Team Manuevers) were able to also get first was just really exciting.”
UCLA concluded the weekend with a ceremony to honor its seniors. Sannajust, who spent most of the season out with an injury, said the moment was special for her because of her history with the sport and the group.
The senior highlighted how much her team means to her.
“It was very emotional, just because I’ve been skating for 16 years, and for this to be my last competition to attend in intercollegiate skating was definitely a lot to take in,” Sannajust said. “The skating team, for me, has given me a little family, and we love each other so much.”