Izzo looks to build on her performance at Nationals

Gabbie Izzo is hoping to continue her momentum in her quest to earn a berth on the 2022 U.S. Olympic team after contending in the United States Figure Skating Championships last month in Las Vegas.

Izzo, who trains at Revere’s Cronin Rink in the Mitchell Johansson Method (MJM), finished  eighth overall in the U.S. Nationals that brought the nation’s best figure skaters to Orleans Arena for the annual competition that was televised live on NBC.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no spectators allowed at the event.

“It was definitely an interesting experience with the whole quarantine bubble,” said Izzo. “I was a little worried going into it because of COVID and everything, but they did a very good job with making sure all of us got tested and that we did social distancing. I personally felt very safe.”

Izzo and the entire figure skating community had been sidelined from competitive events for almost all of 2020 due to the pandemic.

“It was just a great experience to compete again after such a crazy year and to have a little bit of normalcy in such a weird time,” said Izzo.

Izzo, who burst on the figure skating scene after winning the U.S. national junior title in 2019, performed virtually at the Revere rink to earn her prestigious invitation to the Nationals. She is coached by former Swedish national champion and Olympian Peter Johannson and U.S.A. Olympic Team alternate Mark Mitchell.

Izzo had not competed at a live event for 12 months due to the pandemic. “It’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone with not competing,” said Izzo, who had shoulder surgery last February.

During her week in Las Vegas, the dynamic 19-year-old Harvard College freshman didn’t get to visit any of the entertainment capital’s landmarks and spectacular hotels.

“We went from our hotel room in the Orleans Hotel and walked across the street to the Orleans Arena and that was it,” related Izzo.

Performing on national TV andhearing the announcers

After a few days of practices during which Izzo elected to wear a mask, the elite 5-foot-2-inch athlete took the ice for her short and long programs that were televised on the NBC Sports Network and NBC-TV respectively. Millions were watching from home, including Gabbie’s parents, John and Eliana Izzo, her older brother, David Izzo, her friends back in Boston, and Harvard classmates.

During her skating, Izzo was attired in her customary light purple, sequined costume representing the colors of her alma mater, Boston Latin School.

The arena, which normally would have been brimming with excitement and filled to capacity with thousands of fans, was instead so quiet that Izzo said she could hear the comments of the superb NBC-TV announcing team of Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir as she performed her long program.

“As an athlete and a performer, it comes down to a performance so the energy in the arena is something you look for and you don’t realize how much of a difference it does make to have people cheering,” said Izzo.

 Izzo was in contention for a medal after Day 1 of the two-day event.

“I was very pleased with my short program – technically it was what I was looking for,” said Izzo. “After a really hard year, it was nice to put down a really solid performance. In my long program, there were pretty big errors that I usually don’t make, so it was a little frustrating in that case, but when I got off the ice, my coach, [Peter Johannsen]  said to me, ‘It’s obviously not what you’re looking for, but you’ve come a long way in a very short time.’’’

Building momentum on her path to the Olympics

After her long layoff from competitive events, Izzo said she wasn’t expecting a podium finish (top 3) at Nationals but was pleased that she was in close contention to the prime spots that will ultimately determine who gets to represent the United States in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. BradieTennell, 23, won her second U.S.  women’s national title.

“I think going forward it’s just building on the momentum after going through so much and working so hard to get back to where I am now – in a year like no other, you just have to keep building on it,” said Izzo.

A compelling story of drive and determination

Fans nationwide have come to appreciate Gabbie Izzo’s compelling story on the road to bewcome one of the contenders for an Olympic berth. She is a full-time student at Harvard who travels daily from Cambridge to Revere for several hours of skating and off-the-ice strength, conditioning, and flexibility workouts. Her parents have made considerable sacrifices to advance her career in figure skating which takes a steep financial undertaking.

During her skating program, the TV announcers noted Gabbie’s enrollment at Harvard, the world’s foremost university. In fact, they somehow uncovered that the scholarly skater spent her free time at Nationals reading “ten books” inside her hotel room.

“That is true, but I don’t know how they knew that, though,” said Izzo. “I brought my Kindle with me and I was reading a lot because there wasn’t anything else to do. I guess I mentioned it to someone else in passing and they talked about that on television – I thought that was funny.”

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