By day Gabbie Izzo is a first-year college student who happens to be attending the oldest and most prestigious university in the United States.
Gabbie Izzo is also one of the nationâ€™s elite figure skaters. The 19-year-old Harvard College freshman and Boston Latin School graduate is the 2019 national junior champion and on a track to represent the USA in the Winter Olympics.
Izzo makes the trek five days a week from her home in Brighton [her classes at Harvard are remote-learning] to the Cronin Rink in Revere to train in the Mitchell Johansson Method (MJM), an elite national and international figure skating program headed by former Swedish national champion and 1988 Olympian Peter Johansson and former American national champion and Olympic alternate Mark Mitchell.
â€œI love my coaches,â€ said Gabbie. â€œI think they push us a lot but thatâ€™s what we look to them for. Theyâ€™re tough when they need to be, but theyâ€™re also super supportive in everything we do, so I think thatâ€™s really great as well. Peter is wonderful and Mark is the guru of music – heâ€™s so good with picking music for my short and long programs. My short is from The Color Purple â€“ itâ€™s â€œIâ€™m Hereâ€ by Cynthia Erivo. My long is from the Broadway play, Sunset Boulevard, and itâ€™s a medley of music from Andrew Lloyd Weber.â€
A Rigorous, Daily Training Schedule
Izzoâ€™s immense talents are noteworthy in MJM practice sessions as the powerful 5-foot-3-inch skater soars through the air on her triple jumps and executes her spins with superior precision. Figure skating at this level produces that rare combination of athleticism, style, elegance, and explosiveness.
As one would expect, being a world-caliber figure skater takes a tremendous commitment. Izzo trains for five hours each day (three hours of practice on the ice, two hours off the ice in strength and stamina workouts) at the Revere rink.
A Major Break-Through at the U.S.A. Junior Nationals
Izzo had her break-through performance at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit. Putting together a fabulous, high-energy program, Izzo captured the gold medal. At the age of 17, the then-Boston Latin student was officially the best junior skater in the nation.
â€œIt was something that I had worked toward for a really long time, and so to have that all come together, it was great,â€ said Izzo. â€œNot only was I on the podium, but two of my other training mates were also medalists. It was such a great vibe for all of us just to be there, and to work so long for it and see it all come into fruition was amazing.â€
Izzo continued her competitive schedule in 2019 at national and international events. She received a bronze medal in the Senior Division Internationals at the Asian Open in China. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her schedule in 2020 has been limited to one competition in January. She is now preparing for a Nationalsâ€™ virtual qualification event that will be held in December. â€œAnd hopefully nationals in January or February,â€ she said.
As a junior national champion and rising star in the world of figure skating, Izzo is asked frequently about her path to the Winter Olympics. Dr. Tenley Albright, a prominent surgeon who attended Radcliffe College and Harvard Medical School, won an Olympic gold medal in 1956 in Cortina dâ€™Ampezzo, Italy. Interestingly, that was the last time Olympic figure skating was held outdoors.
Could Gabbie become the second woman of Harvard to bring home the gold?
â€œI prefer to take it day by day,â€ said Izzo. â€œPeople always ask me that and Iâ€™m never super explicit about it because I just want to take the sport as far as I can and then weâ€™ll see where it goes from there.â€
Peter Johansson said Gabbie has performed well in international events following her smashing victory in the Junior Nationals. Gabbie is on the top tier of the MJM skaters training in Revere and aspiring to compete to the Olympics.
â€œGabbie did very well internationally last year,â€ said Johansson. â€œSheâ€™s started college and trying to manage college with skating, and sheâ€™s working hard.â€
John Carroll, arena manager at Cronin Rink, has been impressed by Izzoâ€™s personable, humble manner and the incredible work ethic of all the MJM skaters training at the rink.
â€œEvery day itâ€™s a privilege and honor to be able to see this level of talent and to have some small piece in contributing to the careers of these amazing skaters such as Gabbie Izzo, who are going to travel the world and represent our country,â€ said Farrell.
Enjoying her First Year at Harvard
Izzo said while sheâ€™s participating in her college classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic, sheâ€™s enjoying her first year of studies.
â€œHarvard has done such a good job over Zoom and online and I really love the school,â€ said Izzo, who has met many of her classmates despite living a few miles away from Harvard Yard.
Making a LargeÂ Financial Commitment
Figure skating at the elite level requires a sizable financial investment from a family. Through U.S. Figure Skating scholarships and the support of her parents, John and Eliana Izzo, Gabbie is being coached by the best and able to pursue the highest goals in the sport.
â€œMy parents have been super supportive,â€ said Izzo. â€œMy mom is a medical interpreter and works two full-time jobs. My dad is a grant writer for Forsyth Institute. There are other opportunities for scholarships, but itâ€™s been a constant work in progress to pay for this.â€
Gabbie has an older brother, David, who graduated from Boston Latin School and is a student at Bentley University.
Asked which figure skater she admires the most for her contributions to the sport, Gabbie replied, â€œI personally love Yuna Kim (South Korea), the 2010 Olympic champion and the 2014 silver medalist. I think she just embodies everything that figure skating should be. She was graceful. Her jumps were huge. She was powerful. I love her.â€
Do not be surprised one bit if young athletes nationwide will be looking to Gabbie Izzo as their inspiration one day soon.