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Teen athlete: Marissa Jensen

Jensen competes in the 2014 Northland Figure Skating Competition in Duluth, Jan. 29-Feb. 1. (Photo courtesy of Depth of Field Photography)1 / 2
Jensen competes in the 2014 Northland Figure Skating Competition in Duluth, Jan. 29-Feb. 1. (Photo courtesy of Depth of Field Photography)2 / 2

Small children toddling around on ice skates is not an uncommon sight in hockey-crazed Duluth. However, 16-year-old Marissa Jensen grew up on a different kind of skates. Jensen has been skating for three-fourths of her life.

"When I was 4, my mom signed me up for Learn to Skate with the Duluth Figure Skating Club (DFSC) for classes," Jensen said. "Of course, I fell a lot my first time, but I loved it ever since that first day."

After practicing in the group classes for a few years, Jensen got serious about skating and moved on to private lessons. Jensen has been coached by Zoe Hill and Heather Seyfer since she was 11.

"My coaches have taught me so much and I wouldn't be who I am today without them," Jensen said. "Zoe is one of the best coaches and friends I've ever had. I like to think of Heather as almost my psychiatrist. She helps me with the mental part of skating."

Jensen doesn't just skate for fun. She has competed since 2007 and does two to four competitions a year.

"I still remember the day when I first competed," Jensen said. "I think that was a day that kept me more into the sport because I loved performing."

Certain tests determine the levels at which skaters compete.

"To move up into higher levels in skating, you have to do a 'test' in front of three judges who come to your rink," Jensen said. "In order to pass those tests, you have to practice a lot and work for them. I like working for them, but failing the tests can be a little emotionally challenging, because you know that's what you worked for but you didn't really get anything in return, except for the experience."

While Jensen is a junior at East, the DFSC is attended by students from all over Duluth and the surrounding areas.

"I like how I get to see other friends at the rink instead of just the ones I see at school, especially since a lot of my friends at the rink go to all different schools," Jensen said.

Anissa Jones, a junior at Hermantown, has been skating with Marissa for seven years.

"Marissa is such a positive person on and off the ice," Jones said. "She always works hard and all her effort has really paid off the past couple years. She's come so far and is a super-fun skater to watch and be around. I think she's a really good person for all the younger skaters to look up to because she always has a smile on her face, no matter the situation."

Another one of Jensen's close friends and teammates, Alli Hall, is a senior at Marshall.

"I've been skating with Marissa for almost 10 years," Hall said. "We always have great times at the rink together. She's been a very positive influence on my skating and on many of the younger skaters as well. What a lot of people don't know is how close our skating family really is. Marissa is almost like a second sister to me."

Jensen has specific goals set for the upcoming year. With less than two years of high school skating left, she wants to make the most of it.

"I would say my goals are to pass my Intermediate Freestyle test and my Junior Moves test that I've been working on for a while now," Jensen said. "I also want to learn a lot more of cool spin positions. Spins are my favorite ... I don't like jumps so much. I just want to keep progressing in the sport as much as I can before I graduate high school."

Solveig Rennan is a junior at East High School and interned for the Budgeteer in  2014. If you have an idea for a teen athlete profile, email budgeteer@duluthbudgeteer.com.

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