Originally Published 20 May 2022
What I love the most about Ice Skating is the creativity and strength I feel when I skate. I love the feeling of overcoming challenges and being able to perform moves that, once upon a time, I wasn’t able to do. I feel so free being able to glide at such high speeds, speeds much faster than I would ever be able to run. I love spinning and feeling like my fitness goals are going towards my performance in a sport.
My name is Katrina Chan and I am a third-year Mechatronics Engineering student at the University of Auckland. I’ve lived in Auckland, New Zealand my whole life. My parents moved here when they were studying at university and I have since grown up here.
I have recently completed a software engineering internship at Orion Health and have been an R&D Microfluidics Engineering Design Intern at Eden Tech. I am also a Part I and Part II Engineering Tutor and Mentor. On the side, I am currently competing in Hilti Group’s 2022 International IT Competition. Along with my four teammates, we have made it to the finals and will be sponsored to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to present our prototype on gamifying cybersecurity awareness.
I was inspired to be an engineer by watching movies and seeing the smart hacker or coder or inventor (like Doc from ‘Back to the Future‘) and thinking they were so cool — imagine being able to invent a car that can time travel! I was also inspired by Phineas and Ferb, a TV show where the characters created something new and crazy every day. I think the world is such a mystery and there are so many mind-blowing things to uncover. Engineering is a path that takes you through discovering how the world works and how to create things — a path I definitely want to be on.
I wanted to be on this path as I knew movies always depicted the ‘scientist’ as a man. So I then thought, “what if I become the ‘scientist’ that is a woman?” I feel like a lot of girls are put off STEM careers because they don’t see themselves in these roles. However, seeing a lack of girls conversely motivated me to become a woman in STEM. Now that I am on this engineering career path, my inspiration for my job is simply to inspire other girls to see themselves as engineers.
Outside of my job, I love to have the space to be creative. I feel that being surrounded by engineers all the time has made me fall into the more logical side of my brain. So whenever I’m not studying or working, I love to ice skate, dance, hike, motorbike, dive, and do some yoga!
I first became interested in Ice Skating when I took skate-school lessons at the age of 6 (the age where parents force their kids to try out every sport/hobby there is). I enjoyed the feeling of gliding on ice and just feeling the sensation of the wind pushing against me. It’s a simple, pure feeling that still gives me a lot of joy to this day. I also did hip hop throughout high school and love combining the intensity of hip hop with the delicacy of ice skating.
Some of my favourite skaters include Karen Chen and Vanessa Bauer. Karen Chen’s favourite tricks are some of my favourite tricks, and I aspire to be as good as her at these tricks. She skated a demo routine to ‘Never Enough’ by Loren Allred, which just strikes my heartstrings every time I watch her skate to it. As for Vanessa Bauer, I love how creative and artistic she is when choreographing routines for ‘Dancing on Ice’. She always comes up with something fresh and exciting, and I can feel her passion through her skating. Synchronised ice skaters have a more rigid skating style as we need to match with all the skaters we are skating with. These two skaters have taught me to be less rigid, loosen up, be more fluid, and enjoy the fun of skating.
I am currently a figure skater in ‘Black Ice’, New Zealand’s top-ranking synchronized skating team. Synchronized ice skating is a discipline where between eight and sixteen skaters perform together as a team. We move as a flowing unit at high speed over the ice, while completing intricate footwork and creative elements such as lifts, death spirals, whips, and unseen intersections.
Black Ice was formed in 2016 and we have been creating and refining routines every year since. At the end of the year, we showcase our routine at the New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Nationals. We won this competition multiple years in a row — therefore, we became the national champions of New Zealand for our discipline. Following this, we were able to represent New Zealand at the Australian Nationals. In 2019, Black Ice won the Australian National Championships. We competed against other Australian teams and became the first New Zealand team to win at an Australian Nationals Competition.
This year, we would like to secure the title of ‘Team New Zealand’, as we are working towards representing New Zealand again at an international competition in Europe or USA.
I am also choreographing my own solo routine this year, and I love being able to come up with moves that emulate the feeling of a piece of music. It is my escape being able to pick up a piece of music and dance to it, feeling every beat and intricacy the music contains and embodying this music through my movements. This is my escape from reality, away from all the worries and stress of the real world, letting the music flow through my body. I think dance and ice skating really come hand in hand. Whenever I am down, all I need to do is put on music and impromptu a routine.
This year, I am skating to ‘Pretty Hurts’ by Beyonce. It’s been such an amazingly fun process so far. I first danced to it and recorded myself. I then translated these moves into ice skating. I have been watching and performing ice skating and dancing routines for 15 years of my life, which has really helped me in my creative process. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learned into this routine.
One of my favourite achievements with Ice Skating would definitely be winning Australian Figure Skating Nationals as the only New Zealand team at this competition. As for my favourite experiences, it would just be feeling a sense of solidarity with my team when we finally skate our routine at Nationals after a year of blood, sweat, and tears.
When it comes to choreographing, I think one of my favourite parts is having those light bulb moments of “oh, this move will fit perfectly with this piece of the music!” The routine I am doing now is a combination of sass, vulnerability, power, and melancholy. And I cannot wait to depict these emotions through the shapes and movements I make with my body.
Finally, in the future, I would really like to skate in a few more international competitions before retiring. However, I think skating will always be a part of my life and I will always hop back on the ice just for the pure feeling of joy and adrenaline. I would love to perform on a cruise ship as a figure skater or even skate on Dancing on Ice!
I definitely think that Ice Skating has been a benefit to my technological career. Skating has taught me discipline and that I can always achieve my goals as long as I never give up. My technological career has definitely been challenging at times, but ice skating has taught me that we are human and that we have the choice to fight through our challenges.
My advice to anyone interested in Ice Skating is to just give it a go! Get on the ice, skate, fall over, get up, and try again. In life, we will always face challenges, but there is no feeling more satisfying than finally overcoming this challenge. Do not ever forget your passion for the sport and never give up on something you love. I am able to represent New Zealand today because I didn’t give up.
Finally, I’d just like to say that there is always more than tech. It is super important to share our passions because technologists are more than just technologists. We are multifaceted people who have far-reaching passions. I think there is a stigma that we just stare at our computers all day and do nothing else, but that is far from the truth. I am super grateful to Otia Magazine for uncovering arts and culture and bringing our tech community together!
Katrina’s Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/katrinachanl
‘Black Ice’ Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BlackIceNZ
‘Black Ice’ Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/blackice.nz