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DGS junior dazzles on the ice rink

Kozlowski%2C+center+left%2C+poses+with+her+team+at+the+beginning+of+this+season.+Photo+courtesy+of+Dana+Kozlowski.
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DGS junior dazzles on the ice rink

Kozlowski, center left, poses with her team at the beginning of this season. Photo courtesy of Dana Kozlowski.

Kozlowski, center left, poses with her team at the beginning of this season. Photo courtesy of Dana Kozlowski.

Dana Kozlowski

Kozlowski, center left, poses with her team at the beginning of this season. Photo courtesy of Dana Kozlowski.

Dana Kozlowski

Dana Kozlowski

Kozlowski, center left, poses with her team at the beginning of this season. Photo courtesy of Dana Kozlowski.

By Sarah Barber, Downers Grove South High School

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The cold air slices her skin as junior Dana Kozlowski glides effortlessly across the rink at the Downers Grove Ice Arena in the early hours of the morning. For the past 14 years of her life, Kozlowski has spent an immense amount of time on ice skates, often waking up as early as 4:45a.m. in order to practice before school.

“I’ve been skating since I was three years old, and I started competing competitively when I was in third grade,” Kozlowski said. She was first exposed to skating when her sister began taking classes at the Downers Grove Ice Arena, and she followed suit.

Kozlowski believes her biggest achievement as a skater hasn’t been something she’s done individually, but something she has accomplished with her team.

“My team and I have gone to nationals [twice], and to get to nationals you have to place top four at sectionals, so just being at nationals was a really big accomplishment,” Kozlowski said.

Moves, or the individual levels of skating, are varying patterns of different skills, which are then performed by the skater and judged on a pass/fail basis. “[Moves] usually take about a year. Your goal as a skater is generally to finish your moves by the time you graduate, and I’m on my last level right now,” Kozlowski said.

Dazzlers coach Meg Plummer has known Kozlowski for seven years but has only been coaching her for the past four. Plummer has seen Kozlowski grow as a leader throughout these years interacting with her.

“Dana is a phenomenal leader. In her role of captain, she has to make sure she is hearing the whole team, keeps the team on task and lets the coaches know when there are issues. She’s not afraid to speak up both to her peers and her coaches to keep practices running smoothly and attitudes in check,” Plummer said.

As a team captain, Kozlowski takes on additional responsibilities to help the Dazzlers succeed, such as choreographing warm-up routines and designing the makeup looks for competition. Because presentation is such a large part of skating, it is essential for the costumes, makeup and routine to work together in perfect harmony.

“Part of what sets synchronized skating apart from other sports is the theatrical nature of it. While there is incredible athleticism involved it all must be done in beautiful dresses with specific hair and makeup. [The] hair, makeup, dress, music [and] choreography all has to suit the skaters and the team as a whole. Dana designed the look by trying many different color combinations until it was exactly what we wanted,” Plummer said.

Kozlowski feels that one of the biggest challenges she has faced as a skater is having confidence in herself despite the need for perfection that comes with the sport.

“Probably just being confident in my own skating and my own skills, our coaches really stress the idea of presenting, and having good posture, and looking like you’re owning it all the time, even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you really just have to sell it. That’s something I definitely always strive to work on more,” Kozlowski said.

DGS junior Rileigh Weber also skates with the Dazzlers and has been on a team with Kozlowski for “around five seasons.” Weber commented on what the biggest lesson she has learned from being teammates with Kozlowski is, “Most of all how to work [together] as a team no matter what happens,” Weber said.

After skating on the novice team for three years, it is expected that Kozlowski has developed close bonds with the other skaters. “My favorite thing about skating is the fact that I enjoy being on a team with friends, and I make new friends every year, and a lot of those people have always been there for me,” Kozlowski said.

This story was originally published on Blueprint on January 25, 2019.

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