Starr Andrews Makes History as First Black US Figure Skater to Win Grand Prix Medal
On Oct. 29, 21-year-old Starr Andrews made history at Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, as the first Black US figure skater to win an ISU Grand Prix medal since the series began in 1995. “I can’t even put into [words] how I feel right now!!” Andrews wrote on Instagram. The skater has come a long way since her viral 2010 performance to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” gained tens of millions of views on YouTube. “I couldn’t be more proud of how I skated in Canada. Thank you to all the support I’ve gotten even on the skates that weren’t my best. This is a dream come true,” she said in her recent post. Andrews performed her second program of the tournament — a beautiful free skate to Belgian singer Lara Fabian’s rendition of “Je Suis Malade” — on Saturday, moving up from fifth place to second overall with a score of 191.26, 10 points higher than her previous personal best at a Grand Prix in France in 2019. During the program, Andrews expertly executed six triple jumps, including a difficult double axel euler triple salchow. Japan’s Rinka Watanabe took first with a total of 197.59 points, while Young You of South Korea earned the bronze medal with 190.15 points, according to Team USA.
“I think it’s a huge deal, to be a woman of color in figure skating.”
“I think it’s a huge deal, to be a woman of color in figure skating,” Andrews said of the defining moment in figure-skating history and the need to diversify the sport. “I’m so proud I could represent. [It makes] bringing home a medal even more special . . . I actually still feel like it’s a dream.”
Congratulating Andrews on her phenomenal performance, Team USA wrote in an Instagram post, “A 🌟 in every sense of the word.” The figure skater’s impressive win comes less than a year after Andrews underwent surgery to remove an extra nerve near her heart that was causing her anxiety and difficulty breathing.
“I’ve gone into this year with a different mindset, trying to not be so caught up in my head,” she said. “It helps a lot when I don’t think so much. It’s definitely paid off, even though my season didn’t start off so strong [at Nebelhorn Trophy in September]. I was still getting used to my programs.”
Between her viral fame at 9 years old and historic Grand Prix win, Andrews has also wowed audiences with performances set to Mickey Guyton‘s “Black Like Me” and, more recently, her own cover of “At Last” by Etta James at Skate America 2021. Watch Andrews’s stunning performance here, and check out the moment she realized she’d made history.