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Student Skates Her Way to the Olympics

Isadora Williams will go for gold in Pyeonchang in February

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Photo of Isadora Williams figure skating.

After learning to skate at age 5, Isadora Williams – like many young skaters – soon dreamed of competing in the Olympics. But unlike most skaters, the Montclair State student has realized her dream: first by competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and more recently by qualifying to compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February for Brazil.

“It was honestly a dream come true to compete in Sochi,” says Williams. “As a little kid, I always watched the Olympics on TV and aspired to be like the skaters I saw. It was such a surreal experience to actually be one of them – and to be the first Brazilian figure skater at the Olympics.”

In September, Williams, the daughter of a Brazilian mother and American father, earned her 2018 Winter Olympics spot at the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany. She will again skate for Brazil in February in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Williams readily admits that she didn’t skate her best in Sochi. “I was overwhelmed by the games themselves and cracked under the pressure,” she recalls. “Things will definitely be better this time around. I’ve matured and have had a lot more experience competing – and am much more confident – since the last games.”

Balancing School, Work and Training

A Nutrition and Food Science major, with a concentration in Dietetics, Williams balances a full schedule of classwork, training and coaching. “It’s definitely not easy, but I’ve managed to create a schedule that allows me to fit everything into my week without going crazy,” she explains. “I’m taking 13 credits instead of the standard 15 so I can fit all of my extracurricular activities into my week.”

These activities include spending up to three hours on the ice five days a week – usually in the morning or early afternoon – at on-campus Floyd Hall Arena and training for an hour and a half twice a week at its gym. She also coaches at the Arena on the weekends. “I’m usually running from place to place, fitting in homework and studying whenever I have a break. It almost feels strange if I ever have a day with free time at this point,” she confesses.

Williams has changed her training approach since 2014 by working with new coaches Kristen Fraser and Igor Lukanin. “They were both Olympic ice dancers and they’ve worked with me on power and speed, instead of having my focus be only on jumps,” she says. “I feel like I’ll be a better overall skater at the upcoming Olympic Games.”

For the Olympics, Williams will be skating to “Hallelujah” sung by k.d. lang for her short program and “Nyah” by CH2 for her free skate – programs that qualified her for the Olympics. While her coaches choreographed her programs, she has always weighed in on music and costume choices. She explains, “They’re always open to my ideas, because in order to have a successful program you have to really love it. After all, you’re the one who has to train it every day.”

While the two-time Olympian loves the artistry and athleticism of figure skating, she hopes to do more than turn in impeccable performances in Pyeongchang. “My goal is to be one of the 24 skaters to advance from the short program to compete in the free program,” she says. “I’m looking forward to redemption.”