MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged:’ Starr Andrews First Black Woman To Medal At U.S. Figure Skating Championships In More Than Three Decades!., March 10th 2023

Prior to Andrews’ win, Debi Thomas in 1988 marked the last time a Black woman took home a medal at a national competition in America!

Starr Andrews won a medal at the U.S. figure skating championships Friday in San Jose, California, becoming the first Black woman to do so in over three decades.

Andrews, who took fourth overall, was thrilled to share the podium with champion Isabeau Levito, second-place winner Bradie Tennell and bronze medalist Amber Glenn. She finished with 188.24 total for the two days of the competition, including a free skate score of 119.27, according to The Washington Post.

She fully understood significance of her pewter medal victory. Andrews was well aware that Debi Thomas’ victory — in 1988, 35 years ago — marked the last time a Black woman won a medal at a national competition in the United States. As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, Andrews was enmeshed in a sport where women of color hardly ever made it to the medal podium.

“To be able to be the next African American woman to stand on a podium is amazing,” Andrews said, according to The Post.

Considering the jumps she had missed and her blades that stuck in the ice, the 21-year-old was in awe of what she had accomplished.

Andrews, who took home a silver medal from Skate Canada in October, came in third in the U.S. nationals’ short program on Thursday and was confident she would earn a medal.


She was chosen as the first alternate for the American women’s team for the world figure skating championships in Saitama, Japan, set for March, after competing in Friday’s free skate, right behind Levito, Tennell and Glenn.

“It’s never going to be an easy road [in skating],” Andrews said, The Post reported. “There’s ups and downs, and … you have to take and make the best out of it. That’s how you become a great athlete, and [it] helps you in regular life as well.”

Andrews praised her mother, Toshawa, a skater who has been her coach and mentor. She has a heart condition called microvascular disease, which her daughter said has caused 12 heart attacks, and also has had a stroke.

Andrews herself has suffered injuries and a heart condition that required surgery last November. Although her heart condition is not as critical as her mother’s, she will need another procedure soon and hopes that the speedy recovery and minimal surgery won’t cause too much of a disruption to her ice skating.

She revels in the letters she gets from the parents of young Black skaters telling her how much of an influence she is on their kids.

“I can’t believe I’m the person they saw, I’m the person that wanted to make them start skating,” Andrews said, The Post reported. “And I think that that’s so amazing. And I’m so glad that I can be that person.”

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