–By Brendan Shykora
Fifteen-year-old Jasmine Liu has devoted much of her life to music and figure skating, and for this year’s season she decided to put the two together.
Skating to her own rendition of David Newman’s ”Once Upon a December”, Liu finished 2nd in the short program at the Skate Ontario Sectionals in Oakville, Ontario.
The Ottawa native and member of the Gloucester Skating Club said the song from the Disney movie Anastasia was a favourite of hers, and with some encouragement from her instructors at the club last year, she decided to make her own version for her upcoming season.
“My choreographer sent me a piano recording of the song, and I was thinking, why don’t we add singing to this? But we couldn’t find a recording that was suitable for my program, so I just tried to record it myself.”
Liu has been singing since she joined a Chinese-Canadian children’s choir when she was three years old. This year she received a gold medal for earning the highest score out of Ontario and Quebec in the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Level 5 voice exam.
Darlene Joseph, director of skating at the Gloucester club who has coached Liu for the past 10 years, says performing to her own voice has helped Liu skate “more from the soul.”
“She feels it more, she has more of a connection to it. It’s really quite special,” Joseph said.
Liu’s 4th overall finish at the early-November sectionals moved her on to the 2019 Skate Canada Challenge, which took place in Edmonton beginning on Nov. 28, where unfortunately she fell short of the cut for nationals.
Among Liu’s most loved aspects of figure skating is jumping, while her favourite jump – the triple Lutz – is one of the most difficult to complete at her age. At sectionals she was one of only two girls to perform a complete triple among the junior women.
Liu has also completed the Grade 10 piano classification with the Royal Conservatory. She believes her musical pursuits have helped her skating, and vice versa.
“Singing and piano, they help me in skating in some aspects, like keeping in time to the music. And I think skating has helped me with a mental attitude of perseverance in my music.”
In four big events leading up to sectionals, Liu was skating either a strong short, or a strong free program. “At sectionals she finally put the two together,” Joseph said.
“Every day she’s getting more confident in hearing her voice and skating to it,” said the coach.
As she’s done all year, Liu faced girls as old as 19 at the Challenge, which Joseph said is nothing new to her.
“She’s always been one of the younger skaters in her level,” Joseph says. “That’s good for skating because it gives you more longevity in the sport.”
Liu is likely to jump ahead to the senior level around the age 17.
Having instructed Liu for a decade, Joseph has watched her grow into a role model for other young skaters at the Gloucester club.
“Her work ethic on the ice and her commitment and discipline to the sport are things that are really admired about her at the club. Many, many skaters work hard to be like her.”
Another top Gloucester skater in the junior women’s category at sectionals was Emmanualle Proft, who finished 6th in the short program and 7th overall. With that showing, Proft easily landed a spot alongside Liu at the Challenge, which she earned a nationals-qualifying spot at. See more on Proft, in the Sportspage’s Athlete of the Month.