While many people may have only dreamed of competing in the Olympics, for Darien resident Emilia Murdock, this may soon be a reality.

On Jan. 22, Emilia, 17, will compete at the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

Her goal? To qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Bejing.

The 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships will be live streamed for subscribers of NBC Sports Gold and select Senior Ladies will be broadcast on television according to this schedule: https://usfigureskatingfanzone.com/sports/2018/10/1/television-schedule.aspx.

In a phone call to The Darien Times from the Cronin Ice Arena in Revere, Mass., Emilia spoke about her competitions, training, setbacks and dreams.

Competition

In her young life, Emilia has already competed in many top skating competitions. She’s a 2019 U.S. National Junior Ladies bronze medalist. She earned a silver medal at her international debut at 2018 Golden Bear in Zagreb, Croatia, and again at the 2019 Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Other notable accomplishments include a 2015 U.S. Championships National Silver Medal as a juvenile and a 2017 U.S. Championships National Silver Medal as an intermediate.

In Greensboro, she’ll be competing against 18 skaters from all over the United States.

To qualify for the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, a skater needs to compete at regionals (or new this year is an official National Qualifying Series Competition or NQS). The top six skaters from the NQS summer competition can bypass regionals and go straight to the next step by competing at sectionals.

Emilia came in second at regionals and got a Junior Grand Prix because she placed third at nationals last year and qualified for sectionals, which was held in Wenatchee, Wash.

“I almost pulled out because of an ankle injury, but we modified my program so I could compete.” she said. “I came in third, and now I’m going to nationals for the first time as a ‘senior lady.’”

Family

Emilia’s mother, Yalin, first put her on skates when she was 19 months old. Yalin is a former competitive figure skater who trained alongside two-time Olympian Nancy Kerrigan.

Growing up, Emilia skated at Terry Conners Ice Rink in Stamford, Stamford Twin Rinks, and the New Canaan Winter Club. She also played hockey for the New Canaan Winter Club team.

She graduated from the former Pear Tree Point School in Darien and then went to middle school at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan. For her freshman year of high school, she was educated online, and since she began training in the Boston area, she has attended the Newman School in Boston.

Injuries

Over the past few years, Emilia has had her share of injuries.

Back in 2017, she broke her back as a result of a stress fracture from practicing a lot of new jumps at a time, over the course of several months.

To heal, she had to be off the ice for six months. While it was the off-season, she said it was “really hard” to get through this period.

More recently, she has suffered from tendinitis in her ankle — an overuse injury. As a result, she has had to cut back on her training.

“I took a few weeks off after sectionals,” she said.

She has also had to restrict the number of jumps she did on the ice.

She uses physical therapy and acupuncture to heal.

“Acupuncture is amazing,” Emilia said. “It loosens the fascia around my injured muscles so new blood can flow and reduce inflammation.”

“It’s been one of those roller-coaster seasons. It’s hard to recover and know when to stop and let it heal,” she said. “It’s been an upper battle getting through sectionals and to nationals. Right now, my focus is on getting myself healed and skating well.”

To get through her injuries, “you need to treat your physical therapy for that injury like a new sport,” Emilia said.

She continued: “You have to look at your injury as a way to get stronger, and that’s definitely what I did,” adding that mentally this was hard to do.

Living in Boston

Emilia lives in Boston during the week and comes home to Darien on weekends.

While she does get homesick, “I’m very lucky because Connecticut isn’t that far away,” she said. “A lot of other skaters don’t get to see their family for months.”

When home, she gets to see her Darien friends.

“Darien is so special, we have the town center and all the cute shops,” she said. “It’s nice to catch up with friends on weekends.”

In Boston, whenever she has free time, she likes to explore the city.

Now a high school junior, Emilia has been looking at colleges in the Boston area.

As a career, Emilia said she hopes to become a journalist, broadcaster or photographer.

The dream

The Winter Olympics takes place every four years, and aside from the 2022 Olympics, Emilia has also set her sights on the 2026 Olympics, which will be in Milan, Italy.

She said while she had always dreamed of making it this far in skating, “I am still not done. There is still further to go.”

Qualifying for the Olympics would be extremely important and meaningful, Emilia said.

“Making the Olympic team is an amazing success,” she said. “For me, this is definitely based on your timing in the sport and it’s the climax of all of your years. You have to be consistently good over the course of the three years, leading into the Olympic year.”

For more on Emilia, search Emilia Murdock Skating on YouTube.

sfox@darientimes.com