Figure skaters Isabella Marino of Roslyn and Stanley Hu of Roslyn Heights placed second in in their categories at the State Games of America, a national competition for amateur athletes, in Lynchburg, Va., earlier this month.
Both skaters qualified for the nationwide event by placing at the Empire State Games in Lake Placid in January. The top three in each category in each state advanced to the biennial State Games, where Marino and Hu were two of more than 14,000 amateur athletes present.
At the Games in Lynchburg, 11-year-old Isabella skated a four-minute program to “The Phantom of the Opera,” while 10-year-old Stanley skated to a combination of the Beatles’ “Come Together” and the Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Both won the silver medal in their categories.
Choreographer Shannon Lenihan of Great Neck has worked with Isabella since last year and has coached Stanley for four years.
“In a competition like this, you don’t want something too overdone,” Lenihan said. “Isabella’s music was familiar, but nobody was skating it at the time, and she made it all her own and worked hard at it.”
Lenihan also noted how unusual it is for a skater to choose rock songs as Stanley did.
“I love rock,” he said. “It feels really cool to skate to.”
Stanley practices three days a week, and Isabella practices six to seven days a week at the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink in Great Neck from fall to spring and at Iceland in New Hyde Park during the summer.
Isabella’s mother Lori has driven her to countless practices, lessons and competitions since she began skating five years ago.
“I really wasn’t expecting that she was going to do this daily,” Lori Marino said. “I said, ‘OK, we’ll try this.’ And then one lesson became two, two became three, and three became four.”
Stanley’s mother, Vivian Kao, said her son began skating when his sister Allison took it up. The win at the State Games was his biggest achievement yet.
“This was most important competition,” Kao said. “When I heard his name for the silver medal, I was so proud of him.”
Isabella, who has been skating since age 6, said she would like to teach figure skating part time to younger children when she is older. In addition, she wants to attend a college with a rink to free-skate and continue practicing her passion.
“When I do a jump and I land it, it’s the best feeling,” Isabella said. “I feel like when I’m on the ice, I can do anything.”