Photo courtesy of Celeste Cote
Emma Estrada, 17, won her third consecutive National Championship Gold medal at the February 2019 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships held in Michigan.

Emma Estrada didn’t expect to win her third consecutive National Championship Gold medal at the February 2019 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships held in Michigan.

“We kind of just went into the competition wanting to skate our best,” said Estrada. “When we found out we won, it was unreal for a while.”

Estrada, a 17-year-old senior at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, won her third consecutive gold medal with her teammates on The Skyliners Synchronized Skating Team, established in 2001 by a group of parents who wanted to create the most competitive synchronized skating club in the tri-state area.

The Skyliners Skating Team capped its 2018-19 season with history-making results and five national medals at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, MI, for three days of intense competition. Three Skyliners qualifying lines — Junior, Novice and Juvenile — won National Championship Gold Medals; the Intermediate line won Bronze;  and the Senior line won Silver.

“It’s been an amazing season for Skyliners,” said Josh Babb, Skyliners head coach and director of Synchronized Skating. “As our team grows, so do our accomplishments. Our skaters work extremely hard, and their efforts have really paid off this year.”

Estrada, a part of the Skyliners Novice team (ranging between the ages of 14 to 17), performed “The Greatest Showman” program, scoring a season’s best 76.13 points. Intermediate locked in the Bronze medal with their “Go-Getter” program, earning a 66.17. And Juvenile captured their National title with an entertaining “Circus” program, scoring a season high score of 61.94 points.

“It was one of the best weeks ever because I just got to spend multiple days with my best friends, skating doing what we love and then winning,” said Estrada. “We stayed in Michigan days after watching teams compete and hanging out with each other one last time before the season ended.”

Estrada began to learn how to ice skate at the age of 3. Following in her mother’s footsteps, who was a figure skater and is currently a coach, Estrada fell in love with ice skating and joined the Skyliners Synchronized Skating Team in 2011, she said.

“Honestly, they were one of the top teams and I was on another team for a while,” said Estrada. “I decided to make a switch because I was becoming competitive and I’ve been so happy. I’ve met all of my best friends in the team.”

In preparation for the competition, Estrada practiced with her teammates on Saturdays and Sundays, spending five to six hours  on the ice and off-ice training to go over their program. Additionally, the team had to attend choreography classes and fitness training, and expected to practice on their own during the week as well.

“Every time I’ve competed it’s unreal and it’s such an amazing experience hearing the crowd cheer for you, and once the program is over it’s almost like a blur. It happened so fast,” said Estrada.

Aside from ice skating, Estrada is a part of the Drama Club at St. Francis Prep participating in plays and musicals.

“I’m definitely into theater and different performing arts,” said Estrada, who will be attending Tampa University in the fall.

Although she won’t be competing next year, she plans to continue skating individually, she said.

“I’m planning to major in marine biology and hopefully minor in performing arts,” said Estrada. “It was an adventure [at St. Francis Prep]. Every year had something different to offer, and I’ve learned so many things that I will take with me for the rest of my life.”

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