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Sports

Rydberg chases her skating dreams

Romeoville freshman qualifies for U.S. Skating Nationals for third year

DARIEN – Monday through Friday, it’s the same story.

5:30 a.m.: Wake up, stretch for 15 minutes and eat a good breakfast.

7:30 a.m.-12:05 p.m.: Attend school.

12:30-4:30 p.m.: Skate, stretch and do ballet for 20 minutes.

4:30 p.m.: Go home. Do homework. Eat. Sleep.

Repeat.

Paige Rydberg follows her schedule five days a week. On two of those days, she adds off-ice conditioning, with Garrett Krug at Champion Sport Advantage in Willowbrook, to her busy schedule. And on Saturdays, the Romeoville freshman does not get to sleep until noon. She gets up at the same time and trains from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m.

The time spent training with coach Mary Alice Antensteiner and her team has helped the 15-year-old qualify for the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships for the third consecutive year.

“She’s had a stellar record and results,” Antensteiner said. “Second [place] last year was just one part of her long career where she’s had really good results. What separates her is that she’s naturally talented. She’s naturally coordinated and has natural balance. That’s really important in figure skating. She’s got the right body shape and body size, which is also really important for skating.”

By placing second in regionals and fourth in sectionals, Rydberg earned a spot in this year’s nationals. In January, she will travel to Greensboro, North Carolina, to vie for a medal in the junior level after earning the novice silver medal in 2014.

Since last year’s nationals, Rydberg made a huge jump from novice to juniors. As a novice skater, she could complete a triple salchow and triple toe loop. Now, she has all of her triple jumps, which include a triple loop, triple flip and triple lutz. She also does triple, triple combinations.

Rydberg hopes to continue her success at nationals in the future.

“I want to go there and do the best that I can, stay clean and leave there happy,” she said. “Hopefully, the podium. Anything could happen.

“At nationals as an intermediate, I took fifth; and as a novice, I got second. In the future, I want to be a good senior lady, be on the podium and possibly do the Olympics and Worlds.”

As for right now, she wants to be the best she can be while still having fun. On Friday, Rydberg will open the Holiday Exhibition at her host rink, Darien Sportsplex, at 4:45 p.m. as the event’s featured skater.

Despite wanting to have fun, Rydberg still wants to achieve her goals, one being short-term for next year. She hopes to have the opportunity to do an international competition and represent Team USA.

To get to that level, Antensteiner said, Rydberg will have to stick to the regimen she is on and follow the process. So far, she has progressed on schedule.

“Paige has moved up one level every year since I’ve been coaching her,” Antensteiner said. “I’ve been coaching her since she’s been a basic beginner [7 years old], and every year she has moved up through the levels. Next year, she won’t move up. She’ll stay as a junior, which is really common in our sport to stay back.

“She’ll develop her artistic skills more. By now, she has a lot of the technical skills that she needs, and we’ll continue to build on them. The big focus next year will be on her artistry and turning her into a lady versus a girl. She’ll stay back another year while we work on that; and then the following year, she’ll move on to senior if everything goes as planned.”

To help develop those skills, Rydberg does ballet, dance and works with two choreographers. She sees choreographer Mary Beth Marley every day and choreographer Scott Brown, who lives in Colorado, once or twice a month.

Rydberg focuses most of her time training for the sport because she wants to become a household name in the figure skating community. She also wants to help her single mother, who works 12 hours a day to pay for the expenses.

“I just want to be successful and be known, maybe have more sponsors,” Rydberg said.

“The sport is very expensive,” Antensteiner added. “The more successful you become in the sport, the more opportunities open up with sponsorship. She knows that financially, this is very difficult for her mom. She’s aware of that, and I think what she’s trying to say is that she wants to be more known than she already is.”

Information about Rydberg is available online at www.paigerydberg.com. People can sponsor or donate money to help her train and pay for travel expenses to the nationals at her Go Fund Me page, which can be found in the “Support” section of her website.

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