Matthew Nielsen, ninth-grade student at Wooster High School, recently competed at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California, and took home the silver medal. Matthew is one of only 12 young men in the U.S. who competed at the Intermediate Men’s level for the national title.
Matthew, who is 14-years-old, is a member of the diving team and the National Junior Honor Society at Wooster High School.
The championships, held from Dec. 29, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018, showcased the best figure skaters from around the country as they competed amongst five different levels (Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice, Junior and Senior—determined by skill ability, not age, with men and women in separate groups). For skaters at the senior level, the championships serve as the final qualifying event before being selected for the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.
“Matthew has battled through several injuries this year, including a broken wrist, so winning the silver medal means so much to him,” said Christine Nielsen, Matthew’s mother. “He has learned the value of visualization and how to be flexible in his training.”
At the championships, Matthew competed in two skating programs: short and free-skate. Each program's total score is a combination of two sets of scores, including executed elements (jumps and spins) and program components (skating skills, performance, composition and interpretation of music or artistic qualities).
“Matthew was in second after his short program and held onto that place after the free-skate, which packed in four triple jumps and two double axels.” said Christine. “As parents, we couldn’t be more proud of Matthew! He works very hard and is determined to reach his goals, both short and long term.”
Matthew practices up to 15 hours per week on the ice at the Strongsville Skating Club, as well as five days a week at HealthPoint in Wooster for off-ice strength training. He competes eight times a year in various events.
Matthew qualified for the national championships after winning the Intermediate Men’s Event at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Eastern Great Lakes (EGL) Regional Competition held in Antioch, Tennessee. As the EGL Regional Champion, Matthew advanced to the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern Sectional Competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he won the Silver Medal in his event. Only the top four medalists at the sectional competition qualify to move on to compete at the 2018 national championships in San Jose.
“Matthew’s skating prowess is truly legendary for Wooster,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Tefs. “We are so very honored and excited to follow and support Matthew’s dream of becoming a member of Team USA and competing in the 2022 Olympics.”