'A ball of fire'

A fearless approach, love of skating propel Levito

From the June/July 2021 issue of SKATING magazine

By Kama Stigall

“A ball of fire coated in ice” is how Isabeau Levito’s mother, Chiara Garberi, describes her daughter. It is a fitting description, given Levito’s presence when she skates. She is a dynamo, flowing effortlessly but mightily across the ice.

Combining her power and passion with the sounds of the dramatic “Malagueña,” the 14-year-old from Mount Holly, New Jersey, captured the junior title at the 2021 U.S. Championships in Las Vegas in January.

The victory was especially sweet for Levito as she finished second in the junior event at the 2020 U.S. Championships. Levito lost by fewer than five points to another New Jersey-based skater, Lindsay Thorngren.

Like many skaters this season, Levito’s training was hampered by the closures of many rinks due to COVID-19. 

“It was a very fulfilling experience, especially because it was a challenge to train for the competition due to the pandemic,” she said. 

Regardless of the obstacles, Levito performed solidly in Las Vegas. Wearing a fiery red dress, she started her quest to a gold medal with a bubbly performance to “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” by Doris Day. The teenager earned 65.66 points and secured the top spot heading into the free skate. 

In that second segment of the competition, she landed seven triple jumps, including a triple flip-triple toe combination in the second half of her program. She also received Level 4s on all of her spins. Her flamenco-flavored presentation earned high component marks, as Levito skated with pizzazz. She ended the free skate with a score of 121.82, for a combined total of 187.48 points.

Her recent victory is just the latest accomplishment in an already impressive career. Levito began skating at the age of 3. 

“I put her in skating because I was questioning her balance,” Garberi said. 

Her daughter immediately took to the sport. She burst onto the national scene in 2018, winning the juvenile title in San Jose, California. Since then, she has enjoyed a steady climb up the national ranks, becoming the U.S. intermediate silver medalist in 2019.  

Garberi takes a methodical approach when it comes to Levito’s skating. 

“I like to take one step at a time,” she said. “Each achievement is like a step to being a good skater. I have always seen my approach as to never create an obstacle in her growth as a skater and give her all the tools she needs to reach her potential. I have always had the approach of ‘let’s see what she can do.’”

Levito is on track to accomplish even more. Training at the Igloo in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, under her longtime coach Yulia Kuznetsova, Levito skates for three to six hours a day. For the 2021–22 season, she plans to move up to the senior division. 

“Competing as a senior will be much more difficult,” Levito said. “Yet I am excited for my first year as a senior. My overall goal is to fit in, to look like a senior and to skate like one.” 

She is planning to up the ante on the technical side as well. 

“The quad toe loop is an element I look forward to performing,” Levito said.

Kuznetsova has high expectations for her student. 

“I want her to be able to show in competitions what she can do in practice,” Kuznetsova said.     

Despite next season being a bit of a question mark due to COVID-19 restrictions in many countries, Levito continues to lay the groundwork for a successful season.   

“Due to the pandemic, I am unsure of what international competitions will truly happen, although I am excited to test the waters,” she said. “I am mainly focusing on delivering clean programs and improving from each competition.” 

As she prepares to move into the senior ranks, Levito’s inner toughness will be a strength.

“She mastered her mental prep to competition at young age and became independent early on,” Garberi said. “By age 5, she was undoing her skates, and soon after, I couldn’t help her put her skates on. Now I can see how skating and all that comes with it, in particular when she leaves for competition out of the country, has helped her develop an independent and poised attitude toward many aspects of life.” 

A genuine love for figure skating and dedication to her craft figures to propel her forward.  

“She is always willing to get better,” Kuznetsova said. “She loves skating. Skating is her life.”

Age: 14
Year in school: Ninth grade 
Skating Club: Skating Club of Southern New Jersey 
Instagram: @isabeau.levito
I also made an account for my cat — @lana_the_snow_bengal.
What is on your Spotify or Pandora playlist right now?  I play music every off-ice training session and it’s basically a mix of throwbacks — well, it depends if songs from 2016 are considered throwbacks. 
What is your dream vacation?  I really want to go to Italy! 
What is something SKATING magazine readers would be surprised to learn about you?  My friend, Emily, and I would make little mini movies in our free time. We made one called The Pickle Murder.
What are you watching on Netflix? “Grey’s Anatomy”