On a fresh, clean sheet of ice is where 16-year-old Ryan Dunk and 14-year-old Ting Cui feel most comfortable.
“It’s just exhilarating,” said Cui.
Their jumps are graceful. Their spins are superb.
These two prodigies are coming off their best finish, in the biggest competition of their skating lives. Both placed at the United States Figure Skating Championships last week in Kansas City.
“I felt a little nervous but I just went out and did what I do every day here [on the practice ice],” said Dunk. “Then when I placed third it was just a huge relief that all of the hard work paid off at the right moment.”
The Hereford native won bronze in the junior men’s division. Cui, from Pikesville, won silver in novice ladies.
“I was pretty happy,” said Cui. “It felt good because it’s a year’s worth of training for this one big competition. So, it’s nice to know that I medaled and I achieved something.
By winning at Nationals, they now get the chance to represent the U.S. internationally.
“If that were to happen this year it would be a huge honor,” said Dunk.
“You get to travel for the competitions. It’s a big arena, big audience,” added Cui.
As far as the ultimate in international competition, the Olympics, it’s a definite possibility for both Ting and Ryan. Next winter in South Korea is probably out of the question. But, 2022 in China, that’s the goal.
“Many, many skaters start in ‘learn to skate’. Of that maybe 1-2% actually enter qualifying competitive figure skating,” said their coach Chris Conte. “Every time you move up a division it gets much harder. So, for them to continue to medal and actually improve their placements really shows they actually are on the right track to achieving their long-term goals.”
Ryan Dunk and Ting Cui, beating the odds, along with the rest of the competition.