COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Figure skating is a sport that really feeds off crowd energy. But because of COVID-19, skaters have had to get creative. Some events were canceled altogether, others have gone virtual.
Even at the U.S. National Championships, figure skating looked strange.
In an almost empty rink, the pair team of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc compete for their Free Skate at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
"The cardboard cutouts were strange, but I really appreciated them," says Cain-Gribble. "It was nice to be able to look and see some familiar faces."
Because of pandemic regulations only athletes, coaches, judges, and officials were allowed inside Orleans Arena in Las Vegas last month, a skating championship bubble.
"It definitely felt strange because Timothy and I are two people who really thrive off a crowd's energy," says Cain-Gribble. "But we were lucky to have one of our training mates there and then our two coaches who are with us every day at the boards and we could hear them cheering and get the energy going as much as they could and we are fortunate for that."
Cain-Gribble and Leduc landed with the bronze, the third-best pair team in the country. And while there's nothing normal about skating without a crowd, running a 5K without one is strange too.
Cain-Gribble and another skater from her rink braved the Texas snow for U.S. Figure Skating's annual 'Get Up' movement, completing a virtual 5K as a way to recognize the importance of getting up when things get hard.
And here locally, the weather in Colorado Springs also impacting the jog for U.S. Figure Skating marketing manager, Jordan Hoyt.
"It's for a great cause so I'm willing to bear the climate for the event," says Hoyt.
Hoyt says she and everyone in the skating world have been working tirelessly to keep athletes safe. They've made adjustments so campaign events like 'Get Up Day' can still happen one way or another.
"People have had challenges with finding things to do outside of the house these days safely so this is a great way to do that," says Hoyt.
Both Hoyt and Cain-Gribble say "Get Up Day' has brought on new meaning in the last year, as everyone in the world has been forced to adjust.
"I think the biggest lesson that we've all learned this season is just how to adapt," says Cain-Gribble. "We're training for uncertainty and we are so used to training as athletes with a set schedule and knowing when everything is going to happen but we have so much uncertainty right now so the only thing that we can do is go into a rink with a goal for that day."
All net proceeds from the 'Get Up Day 5K this month will benefit the Memorial Fund. A way to support skaters through scholarships all while remembering the tragic plane crash of the U.S. Figure Skating World Team in 1961.