Young ice skater competing for chance at Junior Worlds

DOWNEY - Downey High sophomore Vanessa Lam manages to be an exemplary honors student while traveling around the world to participate in ice skating competitions."I started skating when I was five years old," said Lam. "I tagged along with my older sister Nina, who wanted to skate after she saw Nancy Kerrigan on television. After our first time on the ice, we continued to skate because it felt like a gravity defying activity." In 2010, Lam won many awards that have established her as a determined athlete. The United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) awarded Lam for passing all of the eight required free skating tests. She received a gold medal at her first international competition in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and a subsequent first place win at the Pacific Coast Sectionals qualified her for an upcoming nationwide competition. Lam is inspired by Yuna Kim, who won the 2010 Olympic gold medal with a record score. "Yuna Kim motivates me in so many ways," said Lam. "On the ice, she is one of the best skaters in history with her triple-triple combinations. Off the ice, she is a perfect role model by being humble in any situation. If I become a well-known skater, I hope to be as good of a role model to others as Yuna Kim is to me." With hours of practice to prepare for competitions, how does Lam find time to keep up with her studies? By taking five classes and fulfilling her physical education requirement with ice skating, she uses the extra hour every day to do homework on the way to the ice rink. Honors English teacher Teresa Hill is one of Vanessa's five teachers who help to plan out schoolwork with her busy schedule. "Vanessa is unique because she's the first student I've taught who has been competing in a sport both nationally and internationally," said Hill. "I admire Vanessa's talent so much. I love watching the Olympics, and figure skating is my favorite Winter Olympics sport. When Vanessa returns to class from competitions, she is immediately ready to jump into class discussions. Her work ethic is among the best I've ever known." Lam is currently training for the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championship, which will be held this month in Greensboro, North Carolina. If she performs well, the USFSA selections committee might give Lam the option of competing at Junior Worlds in Korea-her goal for this season.

********** Published: January 13, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 39

FeaturesEric Pierce