On the Ice: Ejun Dean

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By Tiffany Yu

Junior Ejun Dean has been skating competitively since she was nine years old. Though her parents first put her in a summer skating camp to keep her busy, Dean’s passion for the sport has grown and stayed with her ever since.

How long have you been ice skating and how did you get into the sport?

I started skating when I was eight years old. Since my parents were usually busy during the summer, the summer skating camp at Chelsea Piers was a great opportunity to keep me busy.

How did you get into competitive ice skating?

After a little less than a year at Chelsea Piers, my instructor asked me if I wanted to start doing small competitions since I had learned all my singles. I was excited to learn more challenging jumps, so I started doing some little competitions at Sky Rink.

What’s your favorite thing about ice skating? Your greatest achievement?

My favorite thing about ice skating is that it combines athleticism with grace. In a skating program, you have four minutes to tell a story to your audience through the music in an aesthetically pleasing way. However, you also get to challenge yourself by doing difficult jumps and spins. The feeling of being in the air during a triple jump is really unlike anything else and is what makes skating so fun. My greatest achievement was probably making it to sectionals because I was able to see my hard work for the past seasons come to fruition.

Do you feel Asian Americans are underrepresented in the sport or that Asians are a majority in the competitive world?

I think Asians have grown to make up at least a half of the skaters in the competitive world, but Asian-Americans still probably make up a tenth. Figure skating has always been popular in Japan, but the recent success of skaters like gold medalist Kim Yuna and Boyang Jin have inspired a new generation of Korean and Chinese skaters in Asia and America as well. You can see this in the recent USA team which had amazing skaters like Nathan Chen, Mirai Nagasu, and Maia and Alex Shibutani. Also, some of the skaters who represent other Asian countries, like Emma Jang of Taipei, are Asian Americans that are representing the country their parents are from.

Who is your favorite skater? Favorite skater from the recent Winter Olympics?

My favorite skater from the recent Winter Olympics was Nathan Chen. He’s just an amazing skater who has every quad except the axel, something that has never been done before in figure skating.

Do you think ice skating should be a PSAL sport?

I think it would be cool if skating was a PSAL sport, but I think it would be unrealistic since it would be disadvantageous to those who couldn’t afford ice time or proper skates.

What’s one misconception about skating you want to disprove?

One misconception about skating is that it isn’t as physically demanding or difficult as other sports. When you land a triple jump, you come down with eight times your body weight on one leg while staying upright on a thin strip of metal. Skating long programs is also like a combination of long distance running and weightlifting in that you have to have explosive power and stamina to complete one.

What inspired you to start your Parkinson’s disease fundraiser?

A family member’s recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s has motivated me to make a difference, little as it may be, to raise awareness and fundraise for Parkinson’s research. Using the resources at my rink, I was able to work with my figure skating club and the Michael J. Fox Foundation to do a fundraising event for Parkinson’s. The event will be a “skate-a-thon,” which is similar to a fundraising marathon with donors pledging an amount for every set of ten laps completed within 30 minutes. Just setting up the event and meeting all the people who have family members with similar diseases has been so motivating, so I’m really looking forward to the actual event.