Chloe R. Captures Title at USFSA National Skating Competition

In early September, Chloe R. won the U.S. Sr. Solo Ice Dance Championship title at the USFSA Solo Dance Nationals which were held in Provo, Utah at Peaks Ice Arena, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
According to Nancy R., Chloe’s mom, not only is this is the first time that someone from the Midwest has captured the title, but Chloe also set a new record with her history-breaking Rhythm Dance score.

Chloe began skating when she was five years old and for many years was a freestyle competitor.  In 2014, she began Solo Ice Dancing and started competing in 2015.  She has qualified for and medaled in the National Championships each of the last five years.

The road to her success required much dedication and sacrifice.  Chloe said, “It took many years of trials and tribulations before finding a balance that worked best for me.”

Her day begins much earlier than her high school peers. Chloe wakes at 4:40 a.m. and is on the ice by 5:30 each morning to begin two-and-a half hours of training before she reports to school. Having a study hall for her first period of the day, and the permission of the St. Francis High School administration and staff to be excused during that time, allows Chloe some extra time to focus on her training. “St. Francis High School taught me balance,” said Chloe, “I can have the best of both worlds – I can be an elite athlete and I can attend school full time.” During competition season, and most afternoons during her off-season, Chloe heads to the rink after school for additional training, followed by off-ice conditioning.

Chloe admitted that sometimes she works ahead in her classes or has to adjust her rink schedule in order to accommodate her studies, but she doesn’t feel any differently than any other high school students who find themselves staying up late doing homework – she just starts her day earlier. Her discipline really pays off too.  Chloe finished last school year on the A honor roll with a GPA higher than a 4.0, she is in honors and Advanced Placement® classes, and is a member of the National Honor Society and Foreign Language National Honor Society.

Chloe said that her sport is often an opportunity to escape from all the pressures of being in high school. “What I love most about ice dancing is the ability to escape into a world where nothing else matters, except skating. The test you did poorly on, the stress of applying to college, etc., all fades into the background and you become immersed in skating. Being a national champion has never been about the titles or the accolades, it’s been about the journey. It’s a culmination of all the hours of training, all the sacrifices, including missing many school related activities, the long sleepless nights, the countless injuries…”

Nancy said that Chloe had to make many sacrifices, including missing many opportunities to attend school events with her friends, and “juggling her training with education was often like walking a tightrope.” But, Nancy and her husband, Dennis, are so happy with the support Chloe has received from the administration and teachers at St. Francis High School, who have supported her schedule, trusted her discipline, and encouraged her to achieve academic success.

“The journey…has taught me when I put my heart and soul into something, I can succeed,” said Chloe. “And that’s the most important lesson. The journey was never easy, but through it all I had faith in the bigger picture.”

For Chloe, her bigger picture included balancing her academic achievements with nine total USFSA National Medals in Solo Ice Dance – four gold/national titles and five other national medals.

As an athlete, her favorite memory was the reaction of her parents when she won her first national title. They both were filled with tears as they wrapped her in their arms to celebrate. Chloe said that season she sustained a broken knee and was down with mono. “I thought my season would be over, and the idea of even making it to nationals, let alone winning was unimaginable. So, to come back and qualify for nationals and then proceed to win it, meant so much.”

As Chloe’s journey at St. Francis High School is moving toward graduation, she recalled that her favorite memory as a student was her participation in the Junior Retreat.  She said it was the first time she saw everyone differently and it was “eye-opening.” She found herself talking to students she never spoke to before and now they are her friends.

Next year, Chloe hopes to be a student at Loyola University working toward a degree in Psychology with a minor in English.  She also has dreams of becoming a lawyer one day. Though Chloe will be hanging up her competitive skates, she shared that she is working toward some new endeavors that may keep her on the ice.

“Leaving St. Francis, I’ll forever be proud to have belonged to such a tightknit, faith-based community,” said Chloe. “Skating has taught me so many invaluable life lessons and I have so many memories associated with the sport that I want to give back in one form or another. I’m currently in the process of becoming certified to judge competitions and test sessions. I also hope to coach.”

Chloe’s parents have mixed emotions about her retirement. “We are most proud of Chloe for her determination and tenacity in pursuing a sport that is so difficult,” said Nancy. “She competed in U.S. Figure Skating’s highest levels…and achieved USFSA’s highest possible recognition.”

They will miss the thrill of the competition while watching her invoke such beauty, feeling and emotion through her dance - even though they were often more stressed and nervous than she was.

“We are most excited for her ‘next chapter’ and seeing how she will apply the life lessons that she has learned,” said Nancy. “We feel certain that she will continue to ‘touch’ people’s lives in phenomenal ways…we believe she is unstoppable.”

When asked about their time at St. Francis High School, Chloe's parents believe that the education is “incomparable” to other schools. “We chose St. Francis High School over other area Catholic schools because of the great education and the community spirit it exemplifies. It’s much more than a school. It’s a family!”

Chloe agreed. “One thing that people always say that makes St. Francis different is the community. It might sound cliché, but it’s so true. It doesn’t matter whether you play three sports and are a part of theatre, or you’re in a sport outside of school and don’t have time to participate in multiple extracurricular activities, you still feel welcome. You still feel at home.”
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