My Secret Life: Amanda Tsai, Ice-Skater


It’s 5 AM on a gloomy, gray winter school morning, and the last thing you want to do is leave your cozy blankets. But Amanda T. (10), is already up and eating breakfast. By the time the sun rises, she’s out of the house and warming up through stretches, jump rope, and off-ice jumps at the Taipei Arena. After an hour of skating, Amanda makes it back to school– at 7:45 in the morning.
Amanda’s eight year relationship with figure skating began at seven years old, when she visited the Pasadena Ice Skating Rink in California for a friend’s birthday party. She fell in love with the sport and began ice skating tests when she was nine. Since moving  to Taiwan in 2011, Amanda has  competed in the Taiwan Nationals and has represented Taiwan twice in the Asian Trophy, an international competition.
“I like figure skating a lot more than any other sport because of all the jumps, spins, competitions, programs, choreography and dresses,” says Amanda. “Every coming season there’s always something new you can do. I love the costumes, and deciding the music and choreography is so fun.”
Amanda says the best feeling  is when she lands a new jump or when she skates really fast and feels the wind in her face. But that also comes with a fear of falling. “There’s always this little nagging voice that says, ‘Oh, you’re going to fall’, and there’s always the possibility that it’ll be a bad fall, where you land on your hip and it really hurts,” says Amanda. “But I get over the fear by padding up and just getting used to it. I have pads to protect my hips and tailbone.”
Ice skating is also a competitive sport that tests mental strength. At competitions, Amanda is all alone– with everyone, including her coach and parents, watching with high expectations. “It really comes down to how strong you are at dealing with nerves and doubts,” she says.
“You have to remind yourself that you can land your jumps because you’ve been landing them in practice and that you’ll be okay. I listen to my program music and imagine myself landing all the jumps for positive reinforcement.”
Elimination rounds also add to the pressure. In 2012, Amanda competed in the Taiwan Nationals and it was the first time she was allowed to compete for an international spot. “The qualifying round was really scary. It was nerve wracking and there was pressure for me to place. It was also really hard for me to concentrate because there was a lot of gossip.”
In the end, Amanda qualified for the international competition and placed ninth overall. Amanda hopes to continue ice skating in the future through collegiate teams and also wants to represent Taiwan in the 2017 Junior World Championship, which will be held in Taipei.
She says, “You learn so much from skating, like you have to be dedicated to wake up at 5 AM when you want to sleep until 7 but you can’t because you have to go skate. It teaches you dedication and mental strength, and how to keep yourself calm.”