Nina Bates, a native of Sarajevo who now lives in Chicago, is the first skater to represent Bosnia-Herzegovina. “It’s very overwhelming to be the first one,” she said. “I hope my skating will start something there. I’d like to establish a Bosnian skating association for younger kids. There’s an ice rink now that has been rebuilt, but there’s only ice two months a year.”
The 17-year-old first represented her native country in international competition in 2002 when she competed in the Junior Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada, where she finished 18th. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she said, “so I was really scared for my first international competition. It was pretty tough skating with all those good girls. But I learned that I needed to stay calm and just do my best and get some experience.”
Her next big step was competing in the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Ostrava in the Czech Republic, where she finished 47th. “I’d like to do senior worlds,” she said, “but probably not this year. I’ve never done a senior program and it’s hard to do a new program in two weeks.”
Bates didn’t start skating until she was eleven, after she had moved from her war torn country to the United States. “We did not have any ice rink left in Sarajevo,” she said, “but after we came to Chicago, my mother took me to the rink to skate after school. I like everything about skating, both the performances and the training. I like single skating because it is the most interesting. I didn’t want to do pairs or dance.”
She landed a triple salchow, her favorite jump, when she was 16 and uses the jump in her short program combination, a triple salchow/double toe loop. In the long, Bates adds a double flip/double loop. She is still working to become consistent on her triples, but hopes to add more to her program next season, which will be her last in juniors. Of all the elements, she likes doing spirals the most.
Bates trains in Bensenville, Illinois with Alexandre Fadeev and Cydele Knobbs. She trains for three hours on ice and two hours off ice during the week and two hours on ice on Saturday. She also takes a ballet class for skating once a week. “I run a lot,” she said, “at least two miles a day. I like to run around the lake.” She also rollerblades and plays tennis in the summer.
Knobbs also choreographs her programs. Bates said, “I always choose my own music. It’s better that way. If I don’t like it, I can’t skate to it.” This season, she is using Pachebel’s “Canon” for the short and Daniel Summers’ “Global Journey” for the long. “Global Journey is like my life,” she said. “I traveled across the world to get to the States to skate. I like the short program music because I feel my best when I skate to it It’s the one they always use at weddings. I like to skate to classical music because it has a beat.”
Bates was home schooled because of her skating and graduated from high school. “My favorite subject was math,” she said. Bates speaks Bosnian, English and a little German and Russian. “I do want to attend college,” she said, “but this year I am going to take a year off from school to focus on skating more. I want to study psychology.” Bates also hopes to become a skater in an ice show, then go on to become a choreographer. “I really like music,” she said. “I have a whole bunch of CDs and listen to everything except country music.”
She said, “The only thing I do for fun is go to the mall. I use my computer a lot at home at night, talking to my friends and looking at all the federation skating sites.” When she receives stuffed animals after she skates, Bates donates them to children in hospitals. “My older brother, Daniel, works at a hospital, so I visit the young children often,” she said.