Dreaming of Gold
Article and photo by Hollen Wheeler; courtesy photo
There is an Olympic hopeful in our midst. Figure skater Autumn Hall (12) is a sixth grader at Rocky Heights Middle School and already a champion. She practices at least five days a week and recently qualified for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the annual competition where skaters perform for a national title.
“I love the sport and would rather skate than go to school,” said Hall. “I would just skate all day if I could.”
Part of Colorado Skating Club, Hall won her first regional championship at 10 years old. She qualified for nationals last year, but the competition was canceled due to the pandemic.
At this year’s competition, which is scheduled for August in Fort Collins, she will perform a solo routine plus participate in two group performances, High School Musical and Aladdin, where she will skate as Iago, the scarlet macaw. Placing at nationals is one of the qualifiers for receiving an Olympic bid.
“I want to go to the Olympics in 2026 and work up to that goal,” Hall said. “I have wanted it since I was pretty little.” Hall wears an Olympic jacket for motivation and as a talisman for her dream. “This jacket reminds me of my goal and where I want to get to when I’m older,” she said. “It’s a great inspiration for me, and I feel so proud of myself in this jacket.”
Hall began skating at the ripe old age of 3. Watching her older brother play hockey, she said she didn’t want to skate herself. “But one day, I got a pair of brown skates from the rentals and went out on the ice and I never wanted to stop skating again,” she said. “I felt so free.”
“If you feel like you can’t do something, don’t put that in your mindset because you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.”
Hall has achieved the “intermediate” level, which means that at nationals, judges will expect her to perform a double Axel, which is a jump with two rotations in the air, as well as a double-double combo, which is a jump and rotation, landing and immediately jumping and rotating again. Skaters are scored on a system where judges look for the technical score as well as the quality of the performance, and then give plus points for different levels of expertise. Hall has mastered the performance or “artistic” score, showing the judges the fun of being out on the ice with her showmanship. She has won first place in artistic every time she has competed, which qualified her both times for nationals.
Hall’s parents are pleased with their daughter’s commitment. “Autumn works really hard and shows great passion being out on the ice,” said her mom, Janine Leiser. “When it’s a song she loves, she has a gift to feel the music and go,” she added. Her dad Chris Hall says that the skating community is a solid group of girls and families and that they all take care of each other.
Despite her age, Hall has pearls of wisdom for the rest of us, “If you feel like you can’t do something, don’t put that in your mindset because you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.”