Athlete of the week: Emily Halvorson, Elk River, Figure Skating: Lighting up the ice

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

A year ago, Emily Halvorson had a glimpse of where figure skating could take her when older sister Rachel signed with the Disney on Ice tour.

Emily, now 16, has made rapid progress since then, earning her double-gold status by passing Novice, Juniors and Seniors freestyle tests in a span of just nine months.

“Usually, it takes about a year for each test,” said Sandra Johansson, her Elk River Figure Skating Club coach. “That’s Emily. She says, OK, let’s go for it.”

Emily Halvorson is the fifth Elk River Figure Skating Club member to earn double gold. The most recent before her was her sister Rachel. (Photo provided)

Double-gold, meaning gold status in both Moves in the Field and Freestyle, earned by performing for  United States Figure Skating Association judges, means the skater moves up to seniors competition. Emily is the fifth ERFSC member to get double-gold, which Rachel did at age 17, a few months before Disney signed her.

Asked if she’d like to follow her sister’s path,  Emily reflected: “I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do in the future, but going into shows is a definite possibility, and would be a great opportunity. My goals at the moment are to start learning ice dance, and maybe do a little bit of pairs.”

Rachel, outstanding in shows, was less successful in competitions. Emily is solid in both, said Johansson, her coach for five years.

“Emily is completely different although they are both great in their own way,” said Johansson. “She is a great competitor. She has mental toughness. And she can put on the smile, and have that spark and pizzaz. She is beautiful to watch. There is a light in her eyes when she performs.”

The skater has learned how to showcase her sheer athletic ability more.

“She has really upped the ante with her jumping ability,” said Johansson. “She is going higher. She has stopped growing, which is good. She spins faster now. Her facial expressions for the crowd are better. She is really doing her double-doubles.”

Halvorson recently executed three double-doubles in practice — double lutz, double toe, double loop.

The 5-foot-6, 125-pound skater passed Seniors Freestyle at Augsburg on Aug. 24 with a “flawless” performance, said Johansson.

“I knew I had done the program countless times in practice,” said Halvorson,  “so I had the mindset that it was just another day in practice.”

Emily (right) with Rachel.

Her cool moves include double-double combinations, triple jump combinations, death drop spin, and double lutz.

“Two of the requirements,” Halvorson said, “are a double-double combination — two double jumps in a row — and also a double lutz, which were both pretty new  for me so I had to work on them a lot.”

A straight-A student, she is entering her junior year at ERHS, but most of her classes are PSEO at Anoka-Ramsey.

She’s been with ERFSC since age six, coached by  Janice Persyk, Julie Dupre and Johansson. She also skated in a Bloomington club last year, coached by Thomas Amon.

Asked what’s best about skating, Halvorson explained:  “The feeling you get when you accomplish something, whether it is a new jump, spin, or passing a test, When you finally achieve your goal, it is the best feeling in the world, because you know how hard it was to get there.”

The toughest part of is the individuality of the sport. “Yes, there are others out on the ice with you in practice, but what you put in is what you get out, and sometimes it is just hard to motivate myself after so many long hours at the rink. But … it’s all worth it.”

Halvorson says she loves doing shows because she gets to tell a story and entertain, and likes competing just as much because “instead of a story, it is a performance of skills.” She adds: “I just like to have fun out on the ice and focus less on trying to win.”

She stopped competing while gearing for the freestyle gold, but will make her seniors debut, at the Upper Great Lakes regionals Oct. 14-18 in Richfield. Meanwhile Johansson is working on lining up male skaters so Emily can try pairs and ice dancing. With two years of high school left there’s plenty of time to decide.



Emily Halvorson

Personal file – Age: 16 … Family: parents Bob and Naomi; brothers Josh, 23, Luke, 23, and Joey, 12; sisters Lindsey, 21, and Rachel, 20 … Sport: Figure Skating … Academics: 4.0 GPA … School: ERHS and Anoka-Ramsey CC (PSEO)

Favorite stuff – Classes: English and Math … TV shows: “Glee” and “Switched at Birth” … Movies: “The Notebook”, “The Last Song” … Reading: Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers,  Nicholas Sparks … Food: LeeAnn Chin … Drink: Smoothies … Teams: “f I am going to cheer for a team, it is Minnesota all the way.” … Athletes: Evan Lysacek, Kim Yu-na … Kickback activities: reading … Place she’d really like to visit: Australia