NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Kirstyn Nanista spent the better part of two years wondering whether she would ever recapture the skills that placed her among the top young figure skaters in the country. Last month, finally, she got an answer.
Nanista, 15, finished third in the novice division of the U.S. Figure Skating Regional competition last month in Lake Placid, N.Y. She now moves on to compete in the Eastern Sectionals beginning Nov. 19 in Virginia, and Nanista hopes to qualify for January’s U.S. Championships in Boston at her level.
The teenager’s upward path seemed inevitable three years ago when she finished 12th in the country in the Intermediate Ladies at the U.S. championships. Just as her career was taking flight, however, Nanista fractured her back in training. She spent eight months off the ice. A promising career came to a sudden halt.
“When I came back last year, I wasn’t in pain, but it was difficult to get back in the swing of things after being away for so long,’’ Nanista said. “That was the hardest part. I just wasn’t able to do what I had done before. It was frustrating. I knew what I could do, but it was 10 times harder than it was before.”
Nanista knew she was making progress over the summer. At a skating camp, she landed a triple flip for the first time since the injury. “That’s when I knew I could do this, and that I had made it back,’’ she said. “Ever since then I’ve made steady progress.”
Nanista trains primarily at a rink in New Jersey, but she also practices at Sono Ice House in Norwalk, Chelsea Piers and Terry Conners in Stamford, and at the Darien Ice Rink. She attended Trinity Catholic in Stamford last year but is being home schooled this year to accommodate her training schedule.
She needed to make the top four at regionals to advance to the sectionals and rallied after finishing fifth in the short program. “I felt like when I made the Top Four that I made it all the way back,’’ she said. “Now I’d like to get the top four in sectionals and qualify for nationals. That’s definitely my top goal this season. I think it’s achievable. I think with a little bit harder work I can do it.”
Nanista will move up to Juniors next year, which will put her just one step from competing in the Senior division, the highest figure skating classification. She has come a long way since her back injury nearly ended her career.
“Everything has been worth it,’’ she said. “Even if my season doesn’t end as well as I hope, the whole experience has made me a better skater and made me stronger. I can’t ask for anything for more than that.”