Jessica Lee Skates Early, Finishes on Top

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Jessica Lee
Photo by Michelle Harvath


(1/4/03)  —  Jessica Lee (St. Moritz ISC) skated second in the novice ladies short program at the 2004 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships Sunday afternoon. But she didn't mind the early starting position, which was shown as she completed a triple Salchow-double toe to win this portion of the competition.

"I liked that a lot," Lee said of her skating position. "I got to watch the rest of the group."

She started skating as a hobby while living overseas, although she was born in the United States and spent a few years here before moving to Korea. She lived in South Korea for five years while her father was in business there.

"[Skating] was something of a hobby in Korea because I had nothing to do in the winter," Lee, 13, said. "Mom stuck me in skating and the first day I came back I said 'Mom, I want to be an Olympic champion.'"

However her mother was not impressed enough by her daughter's early ambition, so she did not rush to add more lessons.

"[Lessons were] still only once a week with group lessons with three other kids," Lee said.

She said she admires Michelle Kwan and has one additional goal this week at the championships.

"I hope I can meet her," Lee said "I really admire her because of her optimism all the time. She's always a beautiful skater and is really consistent."

Christine Zukowski (University of Delaware, FSC), a clockwise jumper, had a lot of flow to "Hernando's Hideaway." She landed a triple toe-double toe but had a mistake on her double Axel.

"The reason I stepped out of it was because it was too swingy," Zukowski said, using a skater's term to imply she was a bit open on the jump instead of maintaining a tight rotation.

Tenile Victorsen (Rim of the World FSC) had her training and life affected by the fires in Southern California over the summer. So skating a short program at the U.S. Championships was a small problem in comparison.

She lives in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., and saw the fires approaching. After she got through that, her family's house was then leaking from the rains that caused recent mudslides in the area.

"It was dramatic," she said. "It was hard, but I got through it. You have to learn to get through everything," she said.

One of her coaches, Peter Oppegard, emphasized that Victorsen's maturity shows in the way she approaches skating.

"She is not worried too much about placement," Oppegard said. "She is more interested in doing a good job. Maybe that is why she is good under pressure."

She has a background that includes a lot of strings. She plays the cello. One sister plays the viola, an another plays the violin.

"My mother named me after a violinist," Victorsen said. "She [the violinist] was my sister's teacher."

The ladies have their free skate on Monday, Jan. 5, at 5:20 p.m.