Jaidyn DeStefano Alai is an ice skater in the desert

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Jaidyn DeStefano Alai spends 10-20 hours every week perfecting her ice skating skills. 

A figure skater, the sophomore has been performing on ice since she was eight years-old. She occasionally has to miss school and other life events due to practices, competitions and performances.

“I remember watching the Winter Olympics when I was eight, and thinking ‘That’s is so cool, I really want to do that’. A couple months later my mom took me to public skate and I really liked it. I started taking group lessons and a year later I started private lessons, and I’ve been skating ever since.”

Only a couple of years ago, however, her entire skating career turned upside down, and an on-ice slip nearly put her future as a skater in jeopardy. 

“I tore the ligaments in my ankle and I was out for almost a year”

While transitioning from a common move (called the Y-spiral) where she stretches her leg above her head, holding the blade of her skate with one hand while extending the other arm (like a Y), she was attempting to transition into another move that required her to crouch like a baseball catcher. 

That was where a common move became an uncommon event.

Her left ankle buckled.

She tumbled to the ice, sliding backwards.

Initially, she thought she had a “30-second ankle sprain,” something she says is common in skating.

“I realized, ‘Wait, I can’t get up,’” she said. “One of my friends, Brenna, who I really look up to, she literally picked me up and put me on the side,” helping DeStefano Alai explained. 

After arriving at the urgent care, she learned she tore many ligaments in her ankle. The young skater was off the ice for a year, not knowing if she could make a comeback.

“I was really discouraged. I was thinking about how it long it would take to heal, and how hard it would be to learn new skills get my ankle to get back where it was before. I realized ‘You know what I still like skating, why not keep going?’. I had to work really hard and it was a frustrating process for sure, but it was worth it” DeStefano Alai said.