Australia's Lee Wins Inaugural ISU Scholarship
Skate Today
22 December, 2008.

Although revenues for figure skating have declined in recent years, the International Skating Union decided in the summer of 2008 to establish a Junior Scholarship Program as part of the ISU Development Program. The main objective of the program is to provide support for young skaters of outstanding talent coming from developing members.

Eligibility for the Junior Scholarship Program is based on the results of ISU Junior World Championships, the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating or for Synchronized Skating, other ISU sanctioned Junior competitions. Scholarship amounts for the 2008-09 season were $6,000 for single skaters and $7,200 for couples and synchro teams. The scholarships are intended primarily for covering the costs of attending training camps and competitions.

One of the ladies approved for a scholarship by ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta in the inaugural season was the Australian junior ladies champion for the 2007-08 season, Cheltzie Lee.

“It was such an unexpected honor for Cheltzie to be selected to receive the ISU figure skating scholarship this year,” said her mother, Renita.  “It came of course at a great time with the anticipated international competitions on her calendar and with the decline of our dollar against the world currency. It was a surprise that certainly can be used wisely.”

Lee is using the scholarship to train in the United States. She usually trains in Canterbury in Australia with Kylie Fennell, Gloria Pracey and Andrei Filipov. She also worked with Kathy Casey in Colorado Springs last December for six weeks and again before Junior Worlds last season for three weeks. "I've worked with Kathy for several years when she comes to Sydney," Lee stated. "She's been helping me perfect my triple Salchow and triple toe."

"I had to take a week or so off after I was in Colorado in December 2007," Lee added. "My mom and I were in a 19-car accident in the snow and I had a sprained back muscle that took some time to heal."

Normally, Lee skates for one and a quarter hours a day, six days a week. In Colorado, she trains for four hours a day, six days a week. She does three hours of off ice work every week with a sports scientist and a fitness trainer. She also runs and cycles.

Cameron Medhurst choreographed her 2007-08 programs. For her short program, Lee skated to "Sing, Sing, Sing" and "Summertime Blues - Jazz Blues and Boogie" by Mike Strickland. "It was a new program, but I had the same music two years ago for my long," Lee stated. "It's fun and upbeat. I had never done a jazz piece before that and I liked it. I want to try a different jazz piece next season."

Her long program was from the soundtrack of the movie, "Madagascar" by Hans Zimmer. It included "Zoosters Breakout", "Born Free" and "Found Our Roar". "I saw the movie and liked the music," Lee said, "but it's beginning to die off now. I'll have to change it."

"I like to skate to fun music because I like to smile," she said. "Usually I like to change both programs every year because I get sick of them very quickly."

Lee qualified for the ISU scholarship because of her strong showing at the 2008 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. She reached the free skate by placing 19th in a field of 56 ladies scoring just under her personal best score. She went on to finish 23rd overall, the highest ranking by an Australian lady in several years.

"My goal was to skate a personal best at Junior Worlds," she said. "I was happy to have made the final cut for the long program. I was nervous at Junior Worlds because I didn't have my parents there for extra support.”

"My Dad started me in skating when I was five," she said. "It was an easy thing to do on our summer holidays. I was doing gymnastics from when I was six until 12. I switched from rhythmic gymnastics when I was ten and achieved to level 6. I competed at nationals and was gymnast of the year in 2002. But it was too hard to balance gymnastics and skating so I had to give it up. Skating was more challenging. I wish I could do both."

She landed her first double Axel when she was 11 and her first triple Salchow at 12. "My triple Salchow and triple toe are pretty consistent," Lee said. "I've also been working on the triple Lutz, the triple loop, and a triple toe-triple toe combination. I've also landed the triple flip."

Lee has participated in a lot of sports, including soccer and softball. She likes surfing, wakeboarding, water and snow skiing, touch football, running, swimming, and rock climbing. She competed in the high jump and long jump for her school and used to compete in cross-country races. "I made it up to the third level in cross country the year," Lee said, "but then I had a knee injury and haven't run in school for a few years now due to my skating commitments."

Lee is in the eleventh grade in high school. "I want to go to university and study sports science or physiotherapy," she noted. "I would like to pursue a profession in sport."