Home Figure Skating News Beck Excels at Studies and Skating

Beck Excels at Studies and Skating

by Barry Mittan

Felicia Beck, a 17-year-old dynamo who took third at the 2002 U. S. Nationals in junior ladies, is one of the sport’s best students. Beck, a junior at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, California, was recently selected as one of a dozen skaters on the Chevrolet Scholastic Honors Team, which recognizes high school student-athletes who have excelled in both academics and the sport of figure skating. It’s not the first high honor for Beck, who won the President’s Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in 1999 and is a member of the National Honor Society. She takes primarily advanced placement classes, including calculus and maintains a 4.40 GPA.

Beck has her future mapped out as well. She plans to attend medical school. “I plan on specializing in ophthalmology because ever since dissecting a sheep’s eyeball in the fifth grade, I have been intrigued by the inner workings of the eye,” she said. “In addition, perhaps I will do some sports broadcasting, as well. She also plans to keep involved in the skating world. “I will never finish skating,” she emphasized, “as it will always be a huge part of my life. I have been coaching “Learn to Skate” at Ice Castle and would love to choreograph programs in the future. It is so rewarding to see the faces and feel the enthusiasm from the kids. Many of them have already informed me that I will someday be their coach, specializing in spins and choreography!”

Beck has been enthralled with skating since she was three, even though no one else in her family skates. “After watching Katarina Witt’s powerful performance to “Carmen,” winning her second gold medal at the 1988 Olympics, I knew that I wanted to ice skate,” she said. “I recently competed in Chemnitz, Germany for the Blue Swords Junior Grand Prix and was fortunate to meet Uta Mueller, Katarina Witt’s coach, Beck related. “With tears in her eyes, my mom informed her that she and Katarina were the reason I started skating.”

Beck landed her first triples, the loop and the salchow, when she was eleven. “The most difficult jump, but easiest for me, is the triple lutz,” she said. She is so confident of her favorite jump that she uses a triple lutz/triple toe in both the short and the long. She also includes a triple salchow/double toe and triple toe/double toe in the long. Beck’s goal is to make the U. S. Junior World Team and the World and Olympic Team.

Beck had worked with Christa Fassi for the past five years, but after a fifth place finish in senior ladies at the 2003 Pacific Coast Sectionals, she decided to switch to Tammy Gambill. She usually practices for about three hours a day on ice and an hour and a half off ice, sandwiched around her schoolwork. Practicing at Ice Castle gave Beck the opportunity to meet one of her idols, Michelle Kwan, who she admires for her sincerity, dedication and work ethic. “I had the enviable opportunity to train alongside her when she practiced at Ice Castle, and I will treasure those sessions always,” Beck stated. “She taught me so much about every aspect of training and competing.”

Unlike many young skaters, Beck is deeply involved in her own choreography. “I choreograph most of my programs from my heart and soul and truly enjoy every minute of it, as it has always come naturally to me and brings me a great deal of satisfaction and joy,” she said. “Phillip Mills choreographed my short program this year to “42nd Street,,” which we revived from my Junior Olympic days. It was his masterpiece, so I called him and asked him to redo it as a more sophisticated program for seniors. It has been well received by everyone. She used the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” for her long program, which wowed the judges when she took third at the Junior Grand Prix in Scottsdale, Arizona in September.

Beck picks all of her own music. “I listen to music constantly and know immediately if a piece of music touches my emotions,” she explained. “I make a rough cut on my boom box, take it to the rink, skate around to it, and usually, know very quickly, if I can move to it naturally and comfortably, then I make my selection. I like to put the judges and audience at ease when I perform the programs so that they too can become a part of it all. I enjoy drawing them in for the duration. My mom and I do a lot of research on the history of the music, so that the movements and costumes coincide with the interpretation and feel of the music. Believe it or not, my mom and I did the first ten seconds of the “Sing, Sing, Sing” short program from last season in our very small kitchen here in Lake Arrowhead. We laugh about that and had so much fun, as my cat was meowing to the beat the entire time, wondering when we would be finished so she could get her snack.”

She skates to a variety of music. “I enjoy Broadway, swing, Spanish, classical, rock, and anything with a driving beat, as long as it touches everyone’s emotions,” she said. “I can be dramatic and serious with tension or lively and peppy with joy.” Off ice, she listens to all kinds of music. “I love every kind of music,” Beck stated. “I believe that music is an art, no matter what form of music it is. I really enjoy Nickleback and their variety of songs.”

“I like all movies as well,” she said. “I don’t handle scary movies very well, but if I watch them in the daytime, I am usually okay. I have several favorites: Mrs. Doubtfire, Legally Blonde, and Ocean’s Eleven. I really enjoy Adam Sandler’s movies too!” As expected from a serious student, Beck also enjoys reading. “I like to read mystery books and the classics, but I spend most of my reading time with the novels I am required to read for Advanced Placement Language and Composition,” she said.

“My mom says that one side of my brain is artistic and the other side is scientific, as I enjoy fixing electronic and mechanical things, along with perfecting my artistry in skating and doing ballet,” Beck explained. “I also have fun performing “I Love Lucy” skits for my high school drama department. My rendition of the “Vita Meata Vegamin” episode was a big hit and the “Chocolate Factory” was enjoyable, as I handcrafted the white hats out of my parents’ pillowcases. My dad wondered for days why his pillows were bare. I used waxed paper for the rolling assembly line and my fellow drama students and I made the production a terrific success.”

Beck is also interested in sports. “I am currently interested in learning how to play golf and I once played on my grade school soccer team,” she related. “I was taking gymnastic classes while living in Colorado Springs and was asked to be a member of their Olympic Training Team, but I could see how time consuming it would be, so as much as I enjoyed it, I chose to dedicate my time to the sport I love with a passion……figure skating!”

The travel that comes with skating provides additional thrills for Beck, who closely resembles Olympic champion Dorothy Hamill. On a trip to the 2002 Gardena Spring Trophy, where she took the silver, Beck had an opportunity to visit the site of Hamill’s triumph. My parents, coach and I stayed in Ortisei, Italy, a little ski resort area in Northern Italy,” she explained. “It was absolutely breathtaking and the locals mostly spoke German, as the town bordered Austria. My parents treated me to a tour of Salzburg, Austria and I toured the Mozart Museum and visited Mozart’s birthplace. The highlight of the excursion was driving to Innsbruck and the Olympic Village. I persuaded the rink manager to unlock the doors to let us in and I stood in the midst of the Olympic Rink where Dorothy Hamill won gold. It was thrilling! I am so touched when people tell me I resemble such a great skater.”

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