If you see a girl wheeling a blue suitcase across campus at 5 a.m., it’s probably sophomore Amber Guizzotti with her ice skates, getting ready for her next competition.
Guizzotti represented John Carroll University at the Collegiate National Championship in Rochester Hills, Michigan this past August. She came in second place in her division in a competition that included skaters from all across the country.
“It didn’t feel real that I won until I was standing on the podium, in front of hundreds of people, getting the medal and having the medal ceremony,” said Guizzotti. “It still doesn’t feel real that I’m a national champion.”
Guizzotti started skating when she was 12 years old, which is considered a late start by most skaters. When she was younger, she danced, but wanted to experience something new. Starting her skating career later than most doesn’t seem to affect her performance. Guizzotti is a two-time gold medalist in the freestyle and moves in the field events, a five-time regional competitor and a three-time Empire-State game champion.
If she isn’t practicing at the break of dawn, she’s finding time to skate between classes. She trains three hours a day, five days a week at the Thornton Park Ice Arena in Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights Community Center, Gilmour Academy and a rink in Euclid Heights.
“I wish that I could be more involved on campus despite skating. Sometimes I’ll be gone on weekends for competitions, so I’ll miss out on some things like friends’ birthdays, going out to dinner and hanging out,” Guizzotti said.
For every hour on the ice, she has an hour of training off of the ice. While skating, she practices jumps, spins and the choreography needed for her next program. Off of the ice, she does cardio workouts, weight-lifting, pilates and half-marathons to help with stamina and endurance. Despite the massive time commitment that skating requires, Guizzotti does not regret spending so much time on the ice.
“I love every aspect about skating, but I especially love the challenge. There’s always something new to learn. When you throw out a performance that you know was your best yet, or when you get that personal best score, it just feels amazing,” she said.
Guizzotti, who hails from Buffalo, New York, is a member of the Amherst skate club, which is where she practices when at home. She participates in local competitions mostly for practice, but really shines in competitions. She participated in the Empire-State Games in New York for three years and received the gold each year. Being a three-time champion in the games qualified her for the State Games, which will take place in July 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Participants at the State Games can be from any state, as long as they have earned a medal at his or her own state games in the two years leading up to the national event.
She is currently working on two programs for her performance at the State Games. A short program consists of seven elements, which include three jumps, three spins and footwork. A long program consists of eleven elements, which include seven jumping passes, three of which must be in combination, three spins and footwork sequence. Each skater must perform both a short and long sequence. The scores from each are added together for a total score.
Guizzotti will be skating to the soundtrack from the movie “The Secret Garden” for her short program and is undecided about the music for her long program.
One of Guizzotti’s favorite moves is a triple flip jump, which is when a skater does a forward takeoff on the inside edge and rotates three and a half times and then must land backwards on one foot. Her other favorite move is a death drop spin, which is an aerial jump into a back tuck spin.
In addition to competing, Amber completed the United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) and Canadian Figure Skating Association (CFSA) tests. She earned the gold medal in freestyle and moves in the field, which involves detailed footwork. Receiving the gold in these events is the highest honor a figure skater can receive.
Guizzotti proudly supports the John Carroll hockey, football and lacrosse teams. She is also a member of Kappa Delta sorority on campus.
“What helped going into nationals was that I felt supported by the John Carroll community,” said Guizzotti. “The students all support each other and even if there is not an official skating group on campus, I still feel a part of something.”
When asked about lessons she’s learned from skating, Guizzotti said that “when something gets hard or it’s not going your way, you have to keep fighting through it, because if you give up, you’re never going to get it.”