Ysaline Hibon has a clear goal: the Olympic Games - and the young figure skater is pursuing it with impressive discipline, despite enormous pressure and only a few stellar moments in a career in figure skating. A portrait.
Ritsch, ritsch, 23 rotations in 13 seconds. Cold air swirls around Ysaline Hibon, the tip of her right foot finds her hand above her head, the pirouette is perfect. She has practiced it thousands of times. Get the momentum, right leg off the ice, stretch out horizontally, turn, turn, slowly turn the leg up, finish, the whole body tense. Ysaline is no longer concerned with practicing new figures. She trains her mind, has to toughen up, has to show top form, even if she falls during the freestyle. These are the last hours of training before Ysaline's biggest tournament so far, before she boards the plane to Finland to collect points at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Vuokatti. After that, it's back to business with new figures.
Ritsch, ritsch. At 1:30 p.m. sharp, Ysaline Hibon and her teammate Sofia Steele pull one, two, three rounds while coach Agnes Zawadzky is still lacing the little ones' shoes. At 1:31 p.m., the rails of eight girls between the ages of four and 16 carve tracks into the ice. They wear black gauntlets over their white leather skates, gloves, a light training shirt, their long hair tied back in an accurate braid or chignon.
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