Jack Liu’s passion for figure skating began with a pair of tickets to an Evening of Champions. It was there that Olympic champion Evan Lysacek made a deep impression. “His choreography, his jumps — basically everything he did was inspiring,” says Jack.
That inspiration would lead the nine-year-old to The Skating Club of Boston. Starting with Learn to Skate classes and advancing to private coaching, he is now a top-notch ice dancer with fellow club skater Effie Chen. The two 14-year-olds last November captured the silver medal at the US Ice Dance Finals in Hyannis, after winning a silver at the Eastern Sectionals, and a bronze in the juvenile category at the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championship.
“I am grateful for the commitment of everyone at the Club, and in my family, to help me reach my goals and to set new ones,” he says. “It’s a place where I have been able to reach for my dreams.”
Effie feels equally appreciative. “I didn’t know much about figure skating in general,” she says, “but when I came to the Club, I was energized. I saw posters of these amazing skaters who trained at the Club and I immediately thought: This is what I want to do. This is the dream.”
Effie joined the Club about the same time as Jack, armed with a background in ballet and music theory. Effie’s mother, Weiwei, and Jack’s mom Joanna Liu struck up a friendship as they watched their children develop into polished skaters.
Both have found it easy to get involved with the Club. Joanna has co-chaired the VIP Benefactors committee and helped with recruiting volunteers for Ice Chip sales and ushers, as well as with the Theater On Ice cookbook. Weiwei enjoys bringing her artistic talents to Theater On Ice supporting team members as they get ready for the limelight, a role that’s earned her a reputation as “hair mom.”
Meanwhile, Effie and Jack continue to grow as a talented team. About the same time they started ice dancing, they started competing in ballroom dancing, and in that arena they also brought their A-game. They placed first and second in the Eastern sectional ballroom dance competition, besting more seasoned dancers on their first try.
Coach Ron Kravette was not surprised. “From the moment Effie and Jack walk onto the ice, they present themselves with exciting enthusiasm. You can see how well they complement each other. Jack is the classic, strong-silent-male type; it fits his personality, and in that way, he encourages Effie’s natural gifts, to be expressive, to shine. They make a really good match.”
Both skaters are looking forward to the move to Norwood, a new environment but one that carries on a valued legacy. “Everyone, especially the coaches, are so supportive,” says Effie. “They help me push myself to explore the horizons of my abilities and help me improve in the best way possible.”
That support of students was especially appreciated during a recent competitive season. Jack was all set with five costumes – three for ice dance, two for singles – but in a growth spurt, grew out all them in just a week. They were stretched to the limits.
Coming to his rescue were fellow skater and ice dancing competitor TJ Carey, who stepped in with a tux, and Coach Brad Vigorito, who loaned Jack his former costumes. “It just showed how Club members support each other,” says Jack, “and are ready to help at a moment’s notice.”
“It’s a close and caring community,” agrees Joanna. “The Club’s move doesn’t change that. We know their friendships will grow, while they make new ones too. It’s all about the people.”