A perfect fit: Through synchronized skating, Amy Ji finds her place


Ishani Hariprasad

Spinning and leaping across the ice rink, junior Amy Ji has found passion and developed lasting team bonds through synchronized skating.

Clare McRoberts, Assistant Editor

The beauty of the routine changed in an instant. One moment, the team members were gracefully gliding and intersecting across the ice. The next, a skater’s leg was sliced open as she collided with another. As the injured skater was carried off the ice, her teammates watched in traumatized shock.

The frightening moment last year at a competition in Boston captured both the excitement and peril of a unique sport: synchronized skating.

“We share a lot of like laughter, even through all the pains that we have to go through,” Amy Ji said, “in the challenging times, during practice and even if there’s a really scary moment.”

In synchronized ice skating, a group of eight to 16 skaters perform coordinated routines, and what sets it apart is its combination of some of the most challenging aspects of other events: the thrill and danger of figure skating, the collaboration of a large team sport and the precise coordination of dance. For Amy, a junior and synchronized skater, these features are what make the sport a perfect fit for her.

To prepare for competition, Amy spends about 14 hours a week practicing in the rink.

Amy began solo skating about nine years ago and started synchronized skating five years ago. Now a member of the Teams Elite synchronized skating team, she has competed at international competitions and represented the United States with her group.

The group dynamic of this type of ice skating brings additional challenges to the already demanding sport.

“It’s pretty difficult,” Amy said. “You have to use your peripheral vision a lot. There’s a lot of counting and staying on beat because even if you’re slightly off, it can be really noticeable to the judges and the panelists.”

Each skater has an equally critical role, Amy said. Supporting a struggling teammate is crucial to success at this highly collaborative sport. 

“Sometimes when one person wouldn’t be doing as well,” Amy said, “learning how to really support and keep them going and keeping optimism throughout the entire atmosphere has been really important.”

Despite the strenuous nature of synchronized skating, Amy said that the team’s close communal aspect is what makes the experience so special for her.

I was super excited to really just show everyone — basically show the whole world — that we’ve put in so much work, and that we’re all very passionate and really into it.

— Amy Ji

“I think they’re basically my second family,” Amy said. “There’s so many things we have to go through together. We have a really strong relationship from that.”

The close bond Amy has with her teammates has taught her valuable lessons. She has gained a more positive outlook on her experiences on and off the ice. 

“I’m able to make sure that, as a person, I can be more optimistic and that I’m still very self-driven,” said Amy. “That can sort of permeate throughout the entire rink, or to the entire team so that you can cheer each other on.”

Such communication is fundamental to the sport. Amy’s teammate Jamie Hyun, a senior at Glenbrook North High School, said Amy excels at this.

“She’s able to easily communicate with the team and coaches when there is an issue,” Jamie said. “She can quickly make corrections when given by the coaches.”

One of Amy’s favorite memories with her team is their most recent competition in Switzerland, where the team represented the United States. Despite the pressure, Amy wasn’t nervous to compete at an international level; the camaraderie she and her teammates had developed gave her that confidence. 

“I was super excited to really just show everyone — basically show the whole world — that we’ve put in so much work,” Amy said, “and that we’re all very passionate and really into it.”

It’s that team spirit that allowed Amy and her fellow skaters to pull through and complete the competition even after that terrifying moment in Boston. Although it was very frightening, they were determined to finish. The memory has stuck with her. 

Amy said, “I really think that I wouldn’t be able to find any other group this amazing.”