HANOVER, N.H.— Passion is a key component to success, whether that be for work, a hobby or a sport. In the workplace, passion has motivated Marin Blaisdell to be a successful materials engineer in Anchorage, Alaska, for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). But a separate passion has driven her to compete in figure skating at the national level.
“Simply put, I love it; I have a passion for it; and no matter what, I always find myself coming back to it,” Blaisdell said about her love of skating. “Skating gives me joy. The feeling of gliding on the ice, doing two rotations in the air and landing, being able to express myself artistically — all of these and more are the reasons why I continue to skate.”
Blaisdell started competing as soon as she mastered basic skating skills and started testing. In the skating world, certain tests must be passed in order to compete, from beginner all the way to the Olympic level. More recently, she passed tests in the disciplines of ice dance to the Silver level, moves in the field to the Senior level and freestyle to the Intermediate level.
“I did a few freestyle and ice dance competitions after passing my tests, but throughout middle and high school, I mostly competed in synchronized skating,” said Blaisdell. “I enjoyed my time on the team. We traveled all over the East Coast and qualified for Nationals twice. In college I started to skate freestyle again and loved it; I joined the collegiate team and competed for the University of Virginia doing freestyle, as well as ice dance.”
Blaisdell said she has always been athletically inclined, especially in artistic sports. Her parents enrolled her in gymnastics at the age of 2, as well as some supplementary ballet classes until she was about 11 years old. At that point, Blaisdell’s gymnastics career was stunted due to a growth spurt, and that’s when she started figure skating with her mom at the ice-skating rink next door to her gymnastics gym.
Blaisdell picked up figure skating very quickly due to her gymnastics training, flexibility and balance, and she developed a passion for it. Since then, she has competed in multiple disciplines, from synchronized skating and solo and partner ice dance, as well as freestyle, which is solo with jumps and spins.
So, is there a correlation between Blaisdell’s career at a federal laboratory specializing in cold regions research and her love of ice skating?
Blaisdell knows the importance of dedication and precision, whether she is performing CRREL strength tests on snow patches used for rapid airfield crater damage repair or perfecting a double salchow-single loop-double loop.
“I fell in love with skating long ago, it’s almost coincidence that I’m working at a cold regions lab,” said Blaisdell. “Both my parents worked at CRREL, and I lived in Hanover until second grade, so I think I more have a familial and nostalgic relationship with CRREL rather than a skating connection. I’ve always loved the cold and snow though, so I felt at home in the ice rink.”
Recently, Blaisdell competed in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating National Championships in Delaware, where she earned third place. She said she was extremely honored and proud to take home the bronze medal.
“I represented the Skating Club at Dartmouth and was ecstatic to become a National Bronze Medalist,” said Blaisdell. “I never dreamed that I would become nationally ranked, especially at my age, but I’ve seen that age doesn’t limit improvement.”
Blaisdell said that being an adult skater can be difficult — she sometimes feels like her “prime” has passed. Figure skating is a very impact-heavy sport, and now that she’s older, she needs more preventative training to protect her joints.
“But, with hard work, a wonderful support system, and dedication, I feel that I’m living in my skating prime, and I have many more years of progress to come,” said Blaisdell.
Next for Blaisdell is passing her upcoming freestyle test and training for next season. While she takes a lot of pride in how she has skated this year, she has new goals, both in terms of beating her personal record of points earned while competing and of improving her jumps, spins and skating skills.
“Next season, my coach and I will be working towards an improved score at both Sectionals and Nationals, as well as doing some smaller local competitions in the area,” said Blaisdell. “Getting gold at Nationals would be a dream, but most of all I want to continue to have fun at competition and continue to improve.”