Sept. 8, 2014
They call him the Mountain Dew Man.
UCCS freshman Danny Neudecker could also be referred to as the 2014 U.S. Collegiate National Junior Men’s Champion.
The competition combines a short event and a long event. The short event consists of three jumps, while the long event consists of eight jumps.
On Neudecker’s winning run, he scored 136.16, partially due to a huge triple axel.
“It’s one of the hardest jumps in the sport,” Neudecker said. “I wasn’t landing it in practice but I just felt it and did it.”
With over 13 years of competitive skating under his belt, Neudecker approaches each event the same. When asked about his mental preparation before going into a competition, he made it quite simple: he listens to music and drinks a Mountain Dew.
“I just wanted to skate my best,” he said. “I really wasn’t worried about scoring or placement. I just wanted to do my best and land the triple axel.”
Neudecker dedicates hours of his time to the sport. On a typical day, Neudecker practices two and a half hours. However, that doesn’t include the weekend weight lifting sessions.
Two other UCCS students participated in the event. Sophomore Melin Craze and senior Crystal Chilcott competed as well.
“Six days a week I practice for about two to three hours a day,” Craze said. “I then do on-ice power classes, off-ice strength classes and ballet. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.”
Her mentality is literally one step at a time.
“I focus on trying to remember to only do one element at a time,” she said. “My best performances are when I get in the zone. After I finish my program I honestly can’t remember which jump I did.”
Academics are also important to the skaters. In order to qualify for U.S. collegiate figure skating, a skater must being enrolled in a university full time.
The skaters know that the sport is challenging in many ways.
“It’s very demanding, especially with your time,” said Neudecker. “It’s a tough sport on your body.” “I started when I was just five years old,” said Craze. “It’s one of the only sports where you have to look good doing the task.”
UCCS has a history of famous figure skaters. Jason Brown became a bronze medalist in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, participating in the inaugural team figure skating competition. He finished as the top American male in the individual competition, finishing ninth.
Brown tours the world making a living off of figure skating.