At the recent U.S. Figure Skating Championships, a truly high-profile event happened. And no, we are not talking about Amber Glenn, the winner of the women’s singles, whose gold medal was also a surprise for most fans. Today we want to talk about another heroine of the U.S. National Championships – young rising star Mia Kalin, the first ever to land a quadruple jump at the U.S. Adult Championships.
It’s worth clarifying here that Kalin is not the first U.S. National Team singles player to master the multi-turn jump. The first was Alyssa Liu, who mastered the quadruple lutz. However, Alyssa has never performed this jump cleanly at the adult level, only at junior competitions.
Mia Kalin, on the other hand, managed to show a good quadruple tulup at the last national championships, for which she received a positive bonus from the judges. The skater confidently pulled off the jump, thus making her name in history.
Who is this girl and what is known about her to date? For the most devoted fans of figure skating, the name of this talented figure skater is already familiar.
Mia Kalin will be 16 years old on February 19, and she performed her first quadruple at the age of 13. It was then that the girl was first talked about. Among her achievements we can also highlight the performance of two quadruple toeloops (solo and in a cascade with a double toeloop) in one program at the Junior Grand Prix in the Czech Republic in 2022.
The young talent lives in Oakland, Calif. Her coaches have Russian roots. One of them is former Soviet figure skater Vadim Shebeko. And Elena Chernyshova, another Soviet figure skater who became world junior champion in pairs skating, works with Kalin as a choreographer. Incidentally, Elena once worked with little Nathan Chen. Together with her, the future Olympic champion won the US Novice Championships.
Mia has been training with Vadim Shebeko since childhood, since she was 5.5 years old. At that time the financial situation of the athlete’s parents, as well as the inconvenient location of the rink did not allow for much training. Kalin practiced only a few times a week, which is very little for modern figure skating. But Mia loved skating and was always a hard-working, determined child.
By age 9, she started practicing more, though it still wasn’t enough for a professional athlete. She had no more than 8 hours of ice time a week. Her coach, watching the performances of Russian singles skaters, was well aware that women’s singles skating was moving towards increasing complexity, so he was keen to give his pupil the necessary technical base to remain competitive in the future.
So by the age of 10, Mia had mastered all triple jumps, and neither she nor her coach were going to stop there. The next logical step was to learn multi-turn jumps. Mia started to work on quadruple salchow and toeloop, and her best performance was toeloop, which she showed at competitions many times.
This season the skater has repeatedly tried to perform two different quadruple jumps in the free skating program – toeloop and salchow, but unfortunately we have not seen any clean attempts of salchow, without undercurls.
Also in training Mia is working on the triple axel. Last year, at one of the starts, Mia went for a triple axel in the short program. Did not finish the jump, on the downside, but still. If the jump had never worked out in training, it would hardly have been attempted in competitions.
Mia names Anna Scherbakova among her idols. She likes not only the skating of the Beijing Olympic champion, but also her willpower, determination and competitive mindset.
This season, Kalin continues to compete in juniors, as the age limit was recently raised. However, at almost 16 years old, the skater has not managed to win any major tournaments at the junior level, such as Grand Prix stages, series finals or World Championships.
Today, Kalin is one of the most promising American women who can seriously compete with Japanese and Russian athletes when they return to the international arena (which will happen sooner or later).
However, this does not change the fact that the skater still has a lot to learn in order to turn her difficult jumps into an advantage over her rivals.
At the U.S. Championships, the athlete took only 8th place, although she seemed to have performed the most difficult and expensive element in the free skating program.
Can Mia Kalin really claim high places in the future? Especially when Russian figure skaters will be allowed to compete.
In fact, she can. For girls, as practice shows, it is important to master all the difficult jumps at an early age, before the beginning of adulthood. After puberty, it is possible to learn new elements, but it is much more difficult.
Mia has in her arsenal not only a set of triple jumps, but also cascades 3-3, and most importantly – quadruple toeloop. We should also keep in mind the quadruple salchow and triple axel, which are being worked on. It is likely that the athlete will stabilize these jumps as well as the toeloop.
Mia is one of the few singles players in the world who performs a 3-3 cascade in the second half of the program. And both in the short and free skate.
Now the athlete lacks more self-confidence and stability on triple jumps. The figure skater performs a quadruple toeloop playfully, but at the same time allows herself to make mistakes on simpler elements, losing a lot of points.
For example, at the National Championships Mia landed unsuccessfully from a triple flip and could not pin a triple jump, and in the free skate she fell from the same triple flip and made an extra double axel, which was not scored.
Once the skater starts rolling out her stated technical base, her scores will increase significantly.
Another aspect in which Kalin is noticeably inferior to many other skaters is the quality of skating, sliding. There is always something to strive for here, there is no limit to perfection, but it should be noted that over the last couple of years the athlete has noticeably improved in the beauty of skating.
It is important that over the years the accumulated life experience helps girls to open up on the ice in a new way, to feel the music better and to convey the image better. And all these skills will definitely come to Kalin. The coaches of the athlete build the training process with the expectation of a long career.
That’s why they don’t expect results from Mia here and now, they don’t bring her to her peak at 15-16 years old. The figure skater is being systematically prepared for the adult level, because she is still a junior. It should be reminded that she will be able to compete at the adult international level only from the season 25/26, when she will be 17 years old.
Fans also note that Mia is very good for her age and believe that her component, basic skating skills will continue to improve. Considering that Mia has had little ice time for a long time, her successes deserve special admiration.
The most important thing is for the skater to pay close attention to her health and not to harm herself. We must not forget that figure skating is an injury-prone sport, and learning multi-turn jumps can lead to undesirable consequences. We wish Mia health and success. May everything she has planned work out. Her path is just beginning!