Last year, Paige Rydberg had an impressive figure skating resume. Even though she had made three-consecutive trips to nationals, she had one huge goal on her mind.
This year, the Romeoville sophomore made her dream a reality.
She made Team USA in July in the Junior Ladies division.
“This has been a long-term goal for me and for Paige to make Team USA,” said Mary Antensteiner, coach and founder of MA figure skating academy. “She’s accomplished it. It’s a dream come true for her. When I showed her the letter, she was so excited that she cried. It meant a lot to her. It was a pivotal point in her career to get that because it takes you to that next level that she’s been aspiring to get to.”
Making Team USA wasn’t easy, however.
To even be considered, Rydberg had the daunting task of making the International Selection Pool. After having one bad skate at the Nationals last year, which gave her an eighth-place finish in Juniors, Rydberg had to fight to make the list again.
“It was hard for me to go from second to eighth, and knowing that it was just the long program that brought me down,” Rydberg said.
Immediately afterward, Rydberg returned to Darien Sportsplex – her training rink – to go back to her hard regimen. The hard work got her back on the ISP list.
Winning the Broadmoor Open in Colorado in June and doing well at the ISP camp immediately after Broadmoor in Colorado helped her get noticed for Team USA.
In September, Rydberg competed in her first Junior Grand Prix competition and placed fifth out of more than 30 girls who represented countries around the world.
It was a big first for the Plainfield native because it was her first time competing internationally. The only thing that seemed a little different to the experienced skater was that she didn’t know how to tell everyone good luck before the skate because of the language barrier.
Rydberg will represent the U.S. again in October when she competes in the Junior Grand Prix in Croatia. It will be the first time she competes overseas, something she is really excited for and something that is a huge achievement.
Only two girls are representing the United States at the competition, and Rydberg is one of them.
“This year has been really incredible,” Antensteiner said. “She’s been doing fantastic. To be on Team USA and to get two Junior Grand Prix assignments in her first season on Team USA is a big accomplishment. We’re on to big things.”
Making Team USA has been the highlight of her career to date, but she is still dedicated to further improving her craft so that she can continue on this path.
Rydberg said she has a few areas that she needs to improve on. Last year, she nailed all of her triple jumps and improved on other parts of her craft.
“I’ve improved in my maturity and I’ve improved technically,” Rydberg said. “We still have things that we need to fix. We’re still working on mentally, but that has also improved.”
The next step is triple-triple jumps.
Rydberg knows if she follows the regimen Antensteiner and her other coaches set for her, she’ll be able to do it. Right now, she completes in 10 to 15 triple-triples each day. It’s all about repetition.
Rydberg also does other things off the ice to improve her abilities.
She weight-lifts to get stronger so she can do triple-triples. She does ballet to improve her flexibility, artistry, openness and extension. Lastly, she does yoga to help herself with the mental part of being such a competitive athlete at a young age.
Aside from representing Team USA, Rydberg will try to compete in Nationals for the fourth consecutive year.
Since she is representing the U.S. in Croatia, Rydberg has a bye in regionals and will advance to sectionals. In November, she will travel to Cleveland. If she places in the top four, she will make the trip to St. Paul, Minnesota for Nationals in January.
Next year, Rydberg will move on to the Senior division of figure skating.
This year, however, will always be remembered as her turning point in her career. All the hard work and dedication has led her to accomplishing her biggest goal, making Team USA.
“I’m really excited to see a different part of the world and represent Team USA,” Rydberg said with a big smile.
Information about Rydberg is available online at www.paigerydberg.com.