Just before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, figure skater Niskayuna Lillie Nye participated in a different kind of opening ceremony.
This one was on Mirror Lake and marked the start of the Empire State Winter Games, which Nye has competed in many times since she started competitive figure skating 10 years ago at the age of 6.
This year’s games were a bit more exciting than usual. Not only did the schedule line up with the Winter Olympics, but it was also her first appearance at the Games in two years and, to top it off, she won first place in her division.
“It was very exciting. Around the town of Lake Placid they had this big screen that would just play the Olympics. We had the opening ceremonies, and then in China the next morning they had their opening ceremonies, which was really cool,” Nye said.
At the opening ceremony, Nye joined some of the other older figure skaters to help out some youngsters.
“We were with a group of little kids from our rink, helping them so they didn’t get lost. We had to lift two of the little girls all the time because they couldn’t see. [It was] so cool because that was me getting lifted and then I was now lifting a little kid,” Nye said.
She started skating at the Capital Arena in Clifton Park at the age of 4, along with her older sister, Sophie, who competes collegially. Skating has always been a family affair; their mother, Shelley Baldwin-Nye, the principal of Glencliff Elementary in Rexford, also skates.
Nye trains on the ice approximately six days a week, primarily at Clifton Park Rink, although she also skates at Saratoga Springs and Schenectady County rinks. She works with coach Roland Burghart, and in a typical year she will compete in about eight meets in the Northeast, although some have been as far away as Virginia.
The Empire State Winter Games are usually the kick off competition of the year.
“[You] just stream your programs and have fun,” Nye said. “It’s a small little competition where you can go have fun and do your thing without too much added pressure.”
This year, she skated a four-minute program to songs from the musical “Les Miserables.” His program included tricky jumps that took time to accomplish.
“The triple jumps I was trying to do were giving me a lot of trouble the weeks leading up and I was really worried about that. But when I had my practices when I got there they were really good. So I stopped caring,” Nye said.
Although she had two falls, she still came away with a high score of 71.98.
“Everyone was very supportive of everyone. I came out to watch so many people, so many people came out to watch me,” Nye said.
Since it went live, community members in the Capital Region have been able to tune in from their homes and show their support. Some contacted Nye after her competition and congratulated her.
Over the next few months, she will prepare for other competitions and work on her program.
“I love the feeling of learning something new and accomplishing something new,” Nye said.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Life and Arts