KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The pandemic brought with it swift shutdowns of every indoor venue imaginable. Restaurants, bowling alleys, public buildings and gyms (among a multitude of others). It also closed down ice rinks.
The latter is very important for an Oregon figure skater training to make the US Olympic Team. Happy Valley's Samuel Mindra was that figure skater.
He bounced around from ice rinks in Colorado Springs, Idaho and Washington while Oregon rinks remained closed. Then the rink in Washington closed in late November, just over a month before qualifications for the US Figure Skating National Championships. He needed a place to skate and soon.
Then Mindra remembered a competition at an outdoor venue in Oregon. For just over the last five weeks, Mindra as been training every day at the Bill Collier Ice Arena in Klamath Falls.
Already on Team USA, Mindra needed to keep improving to stay in the top group to remain on the skating squad.
"I don't want to get knocked off of Team USA," Mindra said. "That was like my main goal for keep on training so I could still be on the team."
He was able to train for more hours on the ice in Klamath Falls than he normally would in Portland and he was only a few steps away from his hotel.
All of the training paid off as his digitally submitted routine earned him the third-highest score out of 33 competitors in his division. Now Mindra is headed to Las Vegas for the National Championships.
"I feel like I could still get more improvements in my program, but I feel pretty ready," Mindra said. "It was pretty nice and Klamath Falls, there was some altitude and it helped me with my breathing."
Training to get to the national championship during a pandemic was like figure skating. A challenging balancing act where sometimes things don't go to plan. And when you fall, you get back up and carry on.
"There are good days and bad days," Mindra said. "All the improvements that you make, it makes you want to keep going and make more improvements and get better as a skater. And so I guess that's, what's pushing me to get better."