Marina Capatina of Castro Valley hopes to join the 2018 U.S. Olympic figure skating team. She practices at least six hours a day, including skating, gymnastic and dance lessons.
By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM
As the Winter Olympics concluded in Sochi, Russia, 12-year-old Marina Capatina of Castro Valley was hard at work, hoping to qualify for the 2018 U.S. figure skating team.
The training necessary for such a lofty goal means working out five days a week, at least six hours per day. Though she foregoes a lot of typical childhood activities, Marina loves her sport.
“Almost everyone I practice with is trying to make it to the Olympics,” she says. “I work very hard to achieve that goal. You need commitment to the sport. Although you never know what may happen in four years, I try to stay positive, and I think that I can make it.”
Marina trains at the same San Jose skating club where 15-year-old Olympic sensation Polina Edmunds does. Marina cheered her friend’s “fabulous performances” in Sochi, noting that even though many skaters have talent and support, they may not be able to perform well in front of judges.
Marina’s mother Val says that her daughter has been skating since she was three, and has given up a lot to pursue her Olympic dreams.
“If she didn’t love it, she would not be in this. It’s a commitment over the years, and nothing comes easy in skating. You do 100 jumps every single day, and hope that in a year you might see the results,” says Val.
With lessons from four different coaches (jumping, choreography, etc.) and additional classes in ballet, Pilates and gymnastics, every minute of the day is scheduled. In fact, Val and Marina grew so tired of the commute that in January they started spending most weekdays at a residence hotel in San Jose. They return on weekends to join Marina’s dad in Castro Valley.
Marina is able to keep up with her studies thanks to an online public school, California Connections Academy. She needed the flexibility of a virtual classroom due to her exhausting workout schedule.
This is her third year with California Connections, and she keeps in touch with her teacher via frequent phone calls and e-mail. Some of the classes are taught through live online instruction, where students wear headsets and can ask questions via voice or chat.
“My favorite subjects are math and science, because they’re really interesting. I like science because it’s about the natural world, and math because it’s very precise,” Marina says.
Marina was born in Walnut Creek and her parents were born in Romania, so she is fluent in both English and Romanian. She is also studying Spanish and German through her school, which provides recorded lessons and tests similar to a classroom. She spent last summer training in Germany, which gave her a chance to practice her German while competing in another country.
A You Tube video of Marina training in 2011 can be viewed online (www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlFviilks6Q), showing a glimpse at the workout required to become an Olympic skater.