Nearly 36 years ago, former figure skater Debi Thomas made history by becoming the first Black woman to win a women’s title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, inspiring and empowering generations of Black skaters to display their magic on the ice. Among those standing on her shoulders is 21-year-old Starr Andrews, who recently had a historic win at Skate Canada.
The Los Angeles native garnered the ISU Grand Prix medal, making her the first Black U.S. figure skater to win the prize in the Ontario-based competition’s 27-year history. During her performance, Andrews gracefully glided across the ice to Belgium songstress Lara Fabian‘s version of the song “Je Suis Malade.” Her stunning free skate performance elevated her ranking from fifth place to second. She completed the competition with a score of 191.26.
The triumphant skater—best known for her past viral performances to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” Etta James’ “At Last,” and “Black Like Me” by country singer Mickey Guyton—took to Instagram to express her excitement about the win. “I can’t even put into words how I feel right now!!,” she posted. “I couldn’t be more proud of how I skated in Canada. Thank you to all the support I’ve gotten even on the skates that weren’t my best. This is a dream come true.”
Between athletes like Andrews using their paths in figure skating to show what’s possible to organizations centered on ensuring the sport is accessible, major efforts are being led to diversify the ice. In January, Candice Tamakloe and Angela Blocker-Loyd opened Dream Detroit Skating Academy, the city’s first Black women-owned skating club.
In an interview with Team USA, she discussed the importance of representation in the sport. “I think it’s a huge deal to be a woman of color in figure skating,” Andrews said. “I’m so proud I could represent. [It makes] bringing home a medal even more special.”