first_imgOn a sunny Friday afternoon, when many students sleep in until 2 p.m., a few Trojans choose to trek to El Segundo, Calif., and shut themselves in a frigid ice rink.Expression · Freshman Michelle Hanabusa joined the USC Figure Skating Club after training in showcase skating, which focuses on artistry. – Candice Harbour | Daily Trojan Founded by senior Lesley Wasserman and sophomore Jessica Houston in spring 2009, members of the USC Figure Skating Club spend their practice session polishing jumps and spins. It shares the rink with a few scattered younger skaters and coaches at the Toyota Sports Center, the same rink where the L.A. Kings hockey team and Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek train.They even have an unofficial coach — Tiffany Chin, the first Asian-American national champion and the woman Houston calls her second mother.Houston, who is studying international relations (global business), hopes to expand the club into a team that competes with other collegiate skating clubs. Schools like UCLA have well-established teams that travel.“We have six to eight members who are committed, but because skating is so hard — we have no rink on campus — and because we’re so new, we have a lot of floater members,” Houston said of the club.In an effort to raise funds for future competition expenses, uniforms and coaching fees, the team holds ice skating fundraisers where USC students can skate for fun.“Skating is very expensive,” Houston said.A Boston native, Houston competed nationally and internationally in Slovenia, Poland and France until the end of her freshman year at USC. She no longer skates the three hours a day, six days a week she did in high school, but wants to keep skating a part of her future. She even teaches skating lessons at an ice rink in Pasadena, Calif.“When I first got into USC, I was trying to defer to pursue skating,” she said. “I never had the time to really just skate before. But the opportunity to go to USC was just too great.”She doesn’t plan to go back into competition after school.“I don’t think that’s possible. Skating demands so much … and is so demanding on your body,” she said.Fellow club member Michelle Hanabusa, a freshman studying fine arts with an emphasis in design, also came to college with skating on her mind. A showcase skater hailing from Palos Verdes, Calif., Hanabusa took part in events that emphasized artistry over technical moves, such as jumps, and she came back to skating a year after hip surgery.“I don’t miss the competition, I just miss the whole performance aspect of doing programs,” she said with a reluctant smile. “I would like just to have little competitions with other schools. It would be fun.”The tiny, bubbly freshman also teaches at an ice rink in Torrance, Calif.The two might claim to be out of shape, but on the ice, they still glide with grace and power.Houston still zooms across the ice and whips out salchow after salchow, jumping like a pretty spring, her neat bun bobbing up and down as she jumps and lands while the rink streams pop radio over the P.A. system.Hanabusa spends her session working on layback spins; where she  arches and kicks up her foot in an arabesque, spinning like a dancer in a music box. Her signature trick, however, is her spiral, a sweeping move where she glides on one foot while her working leg is raised far above hip level in an elegant line.They’re also joined by Justin Tse, a junior majoring in business administration. Although he stopped skating in high school because he did not have enough time to train, he joined the club to get back into it.“I was browsing through the clubs list,” Tse said of his decision to join at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. He now keeps company with the athletes he grew up watching and admiring — artists such as Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi.And although it’s been years since he was in full practice, he goes out and practices his favorite move: a sit spin. He plans on returning to the sport at his home rink in San Francisco in the summer.Houston continued practice by flying into spins. Across the rink, Hanabusa works on her Y-spiral, holding her leg to the sky as she glides backwards in a long curve across the ice, all while Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” blasts on the speakers.The three weave in and out of each other’s paths; making the soft swish of blades against ice, their shirts rippling as they streamed past one another.They have viewers, too. Hanabusa’s mother, Shinko, watches from the sidelines with camcorder in tow.She still feels pride for her daughter.“She still challenges herself,” Shinko Hanabusa said of Michelle Hanabusa. “She just has a positive mind about skating. She has a happy face … a spirit. [Skating] is her way of expression,” she said, beaming with pride.It is the club’s hope that Hanabasu’s competitive personality will get a chance to show off their love for flips, split jumps and sit spins to other skating clubs ­— all while sharing their art with the USC community.last_img

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