For nationally-ranked figure skater Dinh Tran ’20, the skating rink epitomizes competition, athleticism and dedication.
Tran, who competes in events all across the world, has been skating during his free time for the majority of his life.
“I started skating when I was 4 years old,” Tran said. “I actually don’t know why I started skating. I was invited by a few friends, and I guess I liked it, and my mom wanted me to do it. People saw that I had potential, and they supported me.”
Only a year after Tran picked up skating, he started competing.
Competition in figure skating is based on scores that skaters receive from a panel of judges.
“You have an amount of required elements that you need to do, and you get points for each element like jumps, spins and footwork,” Tran said. “Then you have the grade of execution score for each element and all the points for each element add up. Whoever has the most points at the end of two routines wins.”
Tran began to excel in competition, and after six years of state competition and local training, he skated in his first national competition.
“Four years ago I skated in my first national skating competition, known as Nationals, which was held in Omaha, Nebraska,” Tran said. “To qualify, you have to place in the top four of a series of competitions. First, you need to get in the top four of the regional qualifier. After that, you are sent to Sectionals, and if you place in the top four at Sectionals, you qualify for Nationals.”
On Jan. 3, Tran placed second in U.S. Figure Skating’s 2018 National competition, which was held at the SAP Center in San Jose.
“I feel awesome about it, and I had lots of fun,” Tran said. “I knew what I had to do and I just did my job.”
Tran has qualified for U.S. Figure Skating’s National competition four times out of five attempts. In 2015, Tran also placed second in Greensboro, North Carolina. Tran’s 2018 and 2015 performances are his best yet on the national stage.
In preparation for events like Nationals, Tran adheres to an extremely rigorous training routine. He practices before and after school and requires an extreme amount of dedication.
“I work out in the gym three times a week, and I’m on the rink seven times a week,” Tran said. “Skating is time-consuming and expensive. It is also extremely easy to get injured in figure skating, and the sport requires a strong mentality.”
Tran’s latest competition overseas was in Gdansk, Poland from Oct. 4-7 of 2017. It was his first international competition, held by the International Skating Union.
The competition was one of many international events part of the ISU Grand Prix series in which professional skaters compete.
“I feel like I did pretty well,” Tran said. “I was controlled and I was focused, and I proved everyone wrong by showing that I could compete internationally. Everyone told me I wasn’t ready for an international competition.”
Some of the same skaters that Tran has competed with for years in national competition also skated in Gdansk.
“One of my friends from Colorado competed in Gdansk too,” Tran said. “I have met a lot of people in the US competitions as well as the recent international competition, so I know a few people from other countries now too.”
In the skating world, competing internationally is very important. Tran aspires to get better at an international competition in an effort to advance his skating career.
“It shows that you can represent your country,” Tran said. “My goal is to continue competing internationally and excel in competition.”
This story was edited on 1/3/18 to reflect Tran’s recent success in the U.S. Figure Skating National Championship