7th grader Kaia Soni ranks 12th in the nation for figure skating


Photo credit: Elyce Lin-Gracey

Seventh grader Kaia Soni holds her ice skates in the Moxie Elite Training gym. This was taken after her Wednesday figure skating practice.

By Ella Chang, Staff Reporter

Kaia Soni jumps and spins into a triple axel — a jump that requires the skater to rotate three-and-a-half rotations mid-air. She lands, moving backward, and smiles. Her hard work has paid off.

Seventh grader Kaia Soni started figure skating when she was 2 years old, taking group classes and private lessons. A few years after enrolling in classes, she began competing in figure skating competitions.

According to Kathy Drevs, director of member services for U.S. Figure Skating, Soni is ranked No. 12 overall in the country through the National Qualifying Series and No. 3 within her section. This placement qualified her for the Pacific Coast Sectional Singles Final, where she placed 10th.

Nancy Soni said watching her daughter skate are her proudest moments.

“She did soccer. She did gymnastics, ballet, basketball — we tried a lot of different things,” Nancy Soni said. “Figure skating is just was what she really loved.”

Soni finished her most recent competition season ranked No. 12 in the country at the juvenile level. She trains at Lakewood Eye Center. Soni attributed her her growth and advancement in figure skating to this world-class facility. In preparation for competition, she rigorously practices each day.

“I train every day to prepare for competition. I’m at the rink at around five to eight hours a day,” Soni said. “It’s a lot of hard work, and I have to stay very focused.”

Fitness and Wellness Department Chair Stephanie Ferri said Soni is a unique athlete. She describes her as kind, caring and driven. 

“She is a high-level athlete. Her sport is unique, and she is nationally ranked. Her dedication and drive should be recognized and acknowledged,” Ferri said.

During practices and competition, she said she has to handle her nerves and apply feedback from her coach.

“In competition, I try to focus on applying my corrections and not getting nervous,” Soni said. “I normally take a day off to rest and recharge then I get back to training after that.”

During trainings, Soni practices skills for competitions. Her favorite skill is the double axel. 

“It is one of my easier jumps, but I love to practice it,” Kaia Soni said. “I mastered it a while ago, but it took a lot of practice and off-ice training to get it.”

Soni’s mother acknowledged the difficulty of her sport. She trains from 6-9 a.m. before school and from 4:45-7 p.m. after school. 

“You will have to practice hard,” Nancy Soni said. “It is an endeavor worth taking. It is not, did I get an A or a B or a C or a D? … There’s just so many things that require grit, resilience, the ability to really manage time and the ability to effectively communicate with others.” 

Soni skated at a program in Pasadena back in September. In the future, she hopes to go to the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series and nationals. She said she looks forward to her future in figure skating.

“’I’ve worked very hard in my years of skating, and that’s a part of the process,” Soni said. “Getting to my level takes a lot of sacrifices, but it’s worth it.