COVID-19 pandemic has professional skaters hitting the books at UM

Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 08, 2021

MISSOULA — One year ago, the world of ice skating became yet another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for two professional ice skaters that meant a canceled tour and a lot of free time.

“I went to my first Disney on Ice show when I was 11, and I saw the skaters and I was just like, this is what I want to do, said professional ice skater Sydney Kosiak who is also a University of Montana student.

To perform with Disney on Ice encompasses all the magic of Disney World and then some, according to Kosiak and fellow student and professional skater Justin Hergett.

Kosiak, a figure skater from Massachusetts, and Hergett, who hails from our neck of the woods in Florence, hit the jackpot when they were cast into the East Coast Disney on Ice tour in 2019.

"We were on “Road Trip Adventures,” the show itself had multiple Disney shows in it,” Hergett said.

"Justin and I were both ensemble skaters so we kind of made the magic happen in every segment of the show, Kosiak explained. “And it was really fun being able to portray villagers on Moana’s Island, or lamplighters in London with Mary Poppins, or a cowgirl at the carnival with Woody and the gang."

But the magic vanished on March 15, 2020, when their tour manager sent the entire cast home. They were told this “interlude” between shows would only last two weeks.

“And then two weeks go by and we hear nothing, not even like, hey, you're not coming back. It was nothing for months and months and months on end,” Hergett told MTN News. “And then we got a thing in the mail that was like ‘hey, you're released from the company and we'll see you guys when we can open again’.”

Some of their castmates are still holding on and trying to land other roles in the limited tours that are happening right now, but Kosiak and Hergett are swapping the glitz and glamour of Disney on Ice for some textbooks and collegiate coursework.

“I had always planned on doing a tour, and then going to college at some point,” Kosiak said. “And since the pandemic offered me this opportunity to go to college now, I decided, you know, I'll apply to UM and if I get in, then it's kind of fate telling me to go to college right now.”

She is studying early childhood education and Hergett is pursuing entrepreneurship.

“It was the biggest blessing in disguise for us because we would never be where we are in our skating if the pandemic didn't hit,” Hergett said. “We got off tour, got a coach, and our skill level as a pair team went up exponentially more than it would have if we stayed on tour, so it's very much a blessing in disguise for us.”

Until they can reunite with Disney on Ice, the pair will hone their skills here in Montana. They're even teaching a class at Glacier Ice Rink -- a lesson in perseverance and patience.

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