Eric Coburn ’18 and Kelley McLellan ’17
Sports Editor and Associate Sports Editor
At the early hour of six in morning you can find freshman figure skater Morgan Sewall on the ice practicing her routine. Sewall recently earned her spot at the U.S. Eastern Sectional Championships in Simsbury, Connecticut, where she will compete against 12 other skaters. If Sewall finishes in the top 4, she will qualify and earn a spot in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Beacon sat down with Sewall to talk about what the intense training and preparation for figure skating is like.
How long have you been figure skating for?
I started skating when I was 6 years old so I am in my 13th year of skating. My mom took me to a public free skate and I was fairly good at it the first time and wanted to take lessons.
What were those first couple of lessons like? Were they really tedious?
They weren’t that bad. They teach you how to focus on falling without hurting yourself and focusing on little things like edge work.
What was your first competition like? Were you nervous?
I competed in my first competition when I was 8 years old. I actually completely forgot the routine.
How do you select a routine?
Routines depend on the skater and their coach. You go through levels and each level has certain requirements, and you have to do a certain number of jumps per level.
How are you graded on a routine?
Every element in a routine has a base value of a certain number of points, and depending on how well the element is executed, the value of it can go up or down. If a skater falls on an element, then there is an automatic1 point deduction from the base value of the element, but if it is executed flawlessly then the base value of the element will go up significantly. The judges are the ones who decide how many points will be added or deducted from the base value of the element based off of how well they believe it was executed.
What is the process to prepare for this competition going to be like?
It is going to require a lot of rest and mental focus. Performing routines in figure skating is 80% mental and 20% physical. I just need to be focused on executing my routine and stay relaxed.
What is the most frustrated figure skating has made you feel?
The injuries. I had a sprained ankle, which kept me out for a month. I also had compartment syndrome, which required me to get surgery. It was frustrating going from being able to do difficult jumps and then coming back and having to start over with simpler ones. The rehab requires a lot of patience with resting and strength work.
If you could have the readers take away one thing about figure skating from this feature what would it be?
It is a lot more intense than you think it is. You have to be a pretty strong hardcore athlete to do it and it requires a lot of mental focus and physical ability. It is basically like a 4-minute shift like in hockey. It is not as easy as we make it look.
Who has been your biggest influence?
My parents. They’ve always supported me whatever I want to do. Some parents are really pushy with figure skating, but my parents aren’t like that. They always give me continuous support.
How did you choose to come to Merrimack College?
Merrimack is only 30 minutes from my coach, who works with me at practice twice a week; and the fact that the school has two rinks is a huge help too. But really I just happened to love the school, so it all worked.
When you aren’t training or doing school work, what do you like to do in your off time?
If I have down time I like to draw and paint. I am also into photography and do photo shoots of my friend who is a model. It is a stress reliever.
What celebrity have you always looked up to?
I’ve always looked up to Ashley Wagner, a professional figure skater. She has gone through a lot of ups and downs in her career and it’s inspiring to me.
What is your major?
I am double majoring in marketing and graphic design.
What is the best gift you have ever been given?
For my 18th birthday I got to go to Ireland for two weeks as a gift. I visited Dublin and Galway. The landscape was pretty there and the trip was eye opening for me because the people there just enjoy life more.
What is your dream job?
What do you want to accomplish before you graduate at Merrimack?
As far as figure skating goes, I want to feel ready to be done. I’m getting into coaching as a part time thing and I want to continue with that. As far as school goes, I want to get the degrees I’m going for and be happy.