Trujillo looks to return to junior world championships

Alex Thomas and Eliz Akgun

Five hours and fifteen minutes: nearly the length of a full school day, or perhaps the amount of sleep you get during a typical weeknight. However, for Melissa Trujillo, this signifies something different. This is how long she spends on the ice for a typical Saturday practice.

According to Trujillo, she first hit the ice at five-and-a-half years old, and upon turning 6, began synchronized skating. During the first couple years of the sport, she took lessons at the Glenview Ice Center. From there, Trujillo joined the Chicago Jazz, a team run through the Chicago Figure Skating organization. According to Trujillo, she has been skating with this team for the past six years.

Trujillo says, this past year, she and her teammates ended their six year drought by winning the gold medal at Junior Nationals, which was held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“We’ve always gotten fourth place, [but] I guess this year just proved that we worked really hard,” Trujillo said.

On top of her Chicago Jazz practice schedule, Trujillo skates every morning at the Glenview Ice Center with freestyle coach, Cindy Mikhail. Mikhail has been coaching Trujillo from the very start of her skating career, back when she competed individually.

“She skates every morning,” Mikhail said. “She’s on the ice at 6:30 a.m. every morning for an hour and a half. That’s five days a week.”

According to Mikhail, upon first watching Trujillo on the ice, she knew Trujillo   was destined for success. Mikhail recounts Trujillo passing all of the required skating levels very quickly.

“As an individual, Melissa has passed all of her skating tests,” Mikhail said. “We compare that to having a degree in skating.”

Each year, the Chicago Jazz team performs two programs: the Short program and the Free Skate program. This year, the team is skating their Short Program to American music company album Two Steps from Hell, which Trujillo notes will be very dark. As for the Free Skate program, the team will be skating to the Godfather soundtrack, another mysterious ensemble, according to Trujillo.

“Our coach always tells us to become the character [of our music] because that is what sets the mood for every program,” Trujillo said.

Last year, the team competed in Switzerland and Italy. The team also attended the Midwestern Sectionals where the top six teams advance to nationals.

“It’s going to be a very fun experience especially with all my teammates beside me, I just love traveling with them and competing with them,” Trujillo said.

Senior Amanda Angulo, Chicago Jazz teammate, who has known Melissa since first grade, says she has always looked up to Trujillo.

“Melissa has always been a really good skater, so the first year she joined Jazz, she made the Novice team, and at the time, I was cross skating between two teams,” Angulo said. “When you first join Jazz, no one makes the Novice team. Everyone is always put on the juvenile team, […] so when I saw that she made the Novice team right away, it just kind of inspired me.”

According to Trujillo, she loves her teammates and doesn’t know what she would do without them.

“I’ve been with most of these girls since I was a little toddler, and so I love my teammates so much,” Trujillo said. “We are honestly like a huge family. We never argue with each other, which is great.”

According to Trujillo, it is this sense of deep support that fuels the team and energizes them on their quest for gold.

Besdies her practice schedule and competitions, Trujillo says she admires all aspects of skating and hopes to continue the sport for the rest of her life.