Kevin Vondruska- the Figure Skater
There he was, at the USA Roller Sports National Championship with a silver medal. It all started five years prior, at Learn to Skate class when he was only 10. The class had a special guest, a figure skater, and he was astonished as the skater performed a series of interesting jumps and spins. It was at that moment that freshman Kevin Vondruska knew he wanted to figure skate.
Vondruska started skating late compared to his peers that had been practicing since they were five, but he never let that obstacle hold him back from dominating the more advanced skills. “I sort of had a disadvantage starting since most of the people I compete with started when they were like five, but I’ve practiced really hard with no distractions, and I skipped some of the baby steps,” he said about overcoming that challenge. His motivation in catching up to his peers also played a major role in his development as figure skater. “I want to be the best skater I can be,” he said. Being an excellent student as well, Vondruska finds ways to balance his sport with school work and other parts of his life. He practices every Tuesday through Friday at Skate World, for about 2 to 3 hours. “It’s a very demanding sport,” his mother Karen Vondruska said, “But Kevin is very self-motivated so he knows when he needs to do the homework, when he needs to practice, and when he needs to go to bed.” The skater says he does not feel overwhelmed managing school with his passion. “I usually do my homework after practice. It allows me to de stress”, Kevin Vondruska said.
With a strong drive, he was able to master basic skills, such as balance, very quickly, and now every six months he watches videos of himself skating to check on his progress. “You will fall a lot before you learn where your balance point is. I still fall a lot” Vondruska said. When he first started, he used to get very frustrated when he had trouble mastering a new skill or when he fell. “As he grew, he shot up six inches and actually became very mature. He is now taking on a leadership role in the club for sure,” Vondruska’s coach, Michelle Kolch said. “He is an awesome mentor for the little kid skaters between eight and 12.” Vondruska does artistic skating, which is very similar to ice figure skating but in quad roller skates. “My favorite thing about skating are the spins,” Vondruska said. He really enjoys a particular one called the camel spin, in which he spins in arabesque. He is now exploring other areas of figure skating such as compulsory dances, which is a ballroom dance style with a partner, and a free dance, which has essentially the same movements as ice skating.
Another challenge that Vondruska had to face was winning over the judges. “The judges don’t like you initially. They have to notice you first and then you need to work your way up,” he said. “I’m starting to earn my spot now.” He has now been part of over 50 competitions and among those, the Southern Regional Championships in June and the America’s Cup in January, an international competition with skaters from all over the world, in which he earned first place at in both 2019 and 2020. However, the most important competition to him was the United States Nationals, where he became a National Finalist last year, and ended with a silver medal in his event. “When you’re stressed you don’t do it right and you end up all stiff and nervous,” he said. But that was not the case during Nationals. He was actually very calm during his big performance, and that allowed him to skate his routine perfectly and do his very best. “They don’t tell you when you win until they call you to the podium, so when they said I won it was really cool,” Vondruska said.
His family has always been very supportive of his passion and are always present in his competitions. “I’m really proud of Kevin. He has really stuck with this sport and gone from being a very beginner to now being a national medalist,” Karen Vondruska said. He is currently practicing for the 2020 Easter Invitational in Orlando, which is not a major competition, but his ultimate focus is on working towards Regionals and Nationals which are coming up in a few months. He has now aged up into a harder division, the sophomore division, that has more challenging dances and requirements. His goal is to reach the Senior World Class, being able to participate on the world championships, and possibly become a figure skate coach or judge in the future.
“I looked at the competition when I got to the National Championship and I was like, oh I might actually have a chance,” he said. Vondruska’s confidence and dedication took him a long way at Nationals. “I’ve been working really hard in the past 3 to 4 years, and I did a lot of practice leading up to it, like almost every day, so it was nice to see that happen.”