The world of U.S. figure skating is witnessing a first, as 21-year-old Starr Andrews made history on Saturday, Oct. 29, when she became the first Black U.S. figure skater to earn the International Skating Union Grand Prix medal. This historic feat is a first in the series’ 27-year history. The monumental event occurred at Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario; the series’ history dates back to 1995.
According to Team USA, Andrews won a silver medal, followed by a tally of scores showing a jump from fifth place during Friday’s short program to second overall on Saturday, with a score of 191.26. She performed her second tournament program, a free skate, which elevated her from fifth to second place.
Starr Andrews’ reaction to her score at @SkateCanada is priceless. 💜
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) October 29, 2022
“I’ve gone into this year with a different mindset, trying to not be so caught up in my head,” Andrews said. “It’s definitely paid off, even though my season didn’t start off so strong. I was still getting used to my programs.”
Andrews’ free skate performance showed her skills as she executed six triple jumps and a challenging double Axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination. The skater chose Belgian singer Lara Fabian’s rendition of “Je Suis Malad” as the music to complement her routine.
“I think it’s a huge deal, to be a woman of color in figure skating,” Andrews continued.
Japan’s Rinka Watanabe won first with a score of 197.59 points, while Young You (South Korea) received the bronze medal with 190.15 points total. The figure skater’s score is reportedly 10 points above her previous personal best during a Grand Prix event in France in 2019.
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) October 30, 2022
“It’s really, really important, especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now,” said Derrick Delmore, who trains Andrews in Lakewood, California. “She stepped up to the challenge. The fact she made so much of a statement this week does wonders for the community and it will continue to solidify her as a role model.”
The win did not come without challenges. Team USA reported that Andrews dealt with a heart issue where an extra nerve was burned away in surgery.
“She has been running strong programs at home,” Delmore continued. “What I am most impressed with is even when things are not perfect (in practice), she’s kept going.”
In 2010, when she was nine years old, Andrews went viral after a performance of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.”
“My practices here were good and I think that helped a lot. I’m just going to trust myself.”
Now Andrews is readying herself for the second Grand Prix event of the season, the fifth stop on the circuit, the NHK Trophy, set for Nov. 18 to 20 in Sapporo, Japan.
“I can’t even put into words how I feel right now!! I couldn’t be more proud of how I skated in Canada,” Andrews posted on Instagram. “Thank you to all the support I’ve gotten even on the skates that weren’t my best. This is a dream come true.”
In the past, Andrews has enchanted audiences with spectacular performances to Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” and last year, her rendition of “At Last” by Etta James at Skate America.