Back on the ice, Shum trains for ice skating Nationals


shum 1Gliding gracefully across the ice, he prepares for his opening jump, a triple salchow-triple toe loop. As he lands, the crowd holds their breath in awe, patiently awaiting his next move. Solely focused on the ice, he completes his next spin, a flying spit spin, and follows up with an intricate circular footwork sequence. Ending his program with a double axle and combination spin, the crowd applauds with excitement. Having successfully executed his performance, his heart finally stops racing as he bows with satisfaction and relief.

Junior Kevin Shum began ice skating when he was six years old when his mom, who works near the Oakland Ice Center, thought it would be a good idea to sign him up for lessons.

“It was just something for me to do, besides staying at home,” Kevin said. “I guess it was just an activity to do, mainly for fun.”

However, just a year later, Kevin and his brother started taking private lessons at the rink. That was when Kevin’s pursuit as a competitive figure skater began.

“It’s been such a big part of my life for the past 10 years, so I kind of treat it like a profession, or like a job,” Kevin said. “Everyday I have to work at it, and it’s a long process if I want to actually pursue it as an athletic career.”

Kevin’s mother Annie Shum said she is like Kevin’s personal taxi driver.

“I take him to his competitions,” Annie said. “I don’t have a big role as I don’t know much about skating at all, so I just let Kevin figure out what he needs to learn and practice.”

Kevin skates for two hours every day except for on Sundays. He has had three different main coaches, but also has additional coaches who specialize in certain areas of his training, such as spins and jumps.

PHS graduate Lizzie Goetz has been skating with Kevin for seven years. They often skate together and have shared coaches in the past.

“To put it simply, we just spent a lot of time around each other at the rink,” Goetz said. “He’s one of my closest friends, if not a best friend.”

Goetz said she admires many qualities about Kevin’s skating. She said his jumps are gorgeous and travel well across the ice.

“He also has incredibly natural timing and when he skates, you can tell he has a unique feel for his edges and pressure against the ice,” Goetz said. “My personal favorite quality is that he knows how to light up a crowd and draw the audience in when he skates his program and really gets into the performance.”

Last year, Kevin took about a year off from skating due to injury. While training a new jump, he sprained his right ankle upon landing, leaving him on crutches and in a cast.

“It didn’t hurt that much, but the pain never went away fully, so that’s when I knew there was something serious,” Kevin said. “I wasn’t really angry about the injury because I’ve had many other injuries before, but not being able to get back on the ice after that injury was hard.”

Kevin said while injured, he occasionally got back on the ice to test out his ankle. In addition, he went through, and is still in, a period of physical therapy to strengthen his ankle.

“The main challenges were regaining back my strength and all of my jumps,” Kevin said. “I lost a lot of the stuff I could do before. I couldn’t do certain jumps, but I’m starting to get them back again.”

Goetz said Kevin is extremely determined and will work on aspects of his skating, such as landing a jump, until the Zamboni is on the ice or until he gets it right.

“I know it’s a little difficult for him right now because he’s coming back from an injury, and his confidence is a little shaken,” Goetz said. “And in that time a lot has changed, and all these other factors come into play, but he pushes himself everyday, and he’s already landing his triples again.”

While having only come back to practicing in May, Kevin passed his Junior Freeskate test in August.

“His work ethic basically allowed him to land all the jumps necessary to pass the test – jumps that some skaters never land in their entire careers,” Goetz said.

Annie said because ice skating is an individual sport, unlike team sports, the individual must be very self motivated.

“I hope Kevin continues to be self motivated and that he continues skating,” Annie said. “Most importantly, I hope he stays fit and strong, and influences other kids to be self motivated too.”

Kevin is currently going through the qualifying competitions to be able to qualify for this January’s U.S. National Championships in Boston.  If he makes it past Nationals, he hopes to then get an assignment for an international competition.

“Traveling is one of my favorite parts of skating,” Kevin said. “I’ve been to many places around the nation. As I get better, eventually, hopefully, I’ll be able to travel internationally.”

Kevin said he is still in the process of relearning stunts, but is glad he is able to skate again.

“Getting back my jumps and all my other techniques, that will slowly come back, eventually,” Kevin said. “But I think for now, I’m just glad I’m back on the ice.”