It was a heady experience for Cecilia Kusturin. Her junior synchronized skating team with The Skating Club of Boston had placed 8th among 12 teams in the 2018 National Championships in Portland, Oregon.

Suddenly, the passion for skating that captivated her when she was 5 years old was validated. It made sense that she had skated several times a week for more than a decade, and had traveled from Gorham to Boston three times a week for team practices.

“That was the most amazing moment of my life,” Kusturin said. “All my hard work in skating was paying off. We didn’t win, but it was the start of thinking that this was something I could be proud of.”

Team Excel Junior also went to the 2019 nationals in February, placing 13th among 16 teams. After graduating this month from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Kusturin will join the Senior Varsity/Team USA-qualifying synchronized skating team at Adrian College in Michigan. The third youngest of nine siblings, Kusturin is following her older sister and longtime skating partner, Katie, who also skates at Adrian.

Originally called precision skating, synchronized skating involves teams of eight to 20 skaters who move together at high speed and in changing formations while completing complicated footwork. While the sport has grown in popularity in recent years, with about 600 teams registered with U.S. Figure Skating, it hasn’t been accepted to Olympic competition and remains relatively unknown.

“It’s a very odd sport,” Kusturin admits. “It’s definitely unknown in the wider sports community. You have to have a special subscription on cable TV to see it.”

Previously home-schooled, Kusturin became a national-caliber skater while maintaining high standards at Baxter Academy and taking three additional courses at the University of Southern Maine. She always has at least one part-time job and has volunteered for three years at Gorham House retirement community. She has been an altar server at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Westbrook for many years and has begun training to be a Eucharistic minister. She plans to study English and biology in college, and either teach one of those subjects to high schoolers or work in a research lab.

Kusturin attributes a great deal of her success so far to her mother, Meg Kusturin, “an absolute superwoman” who drove her to every practice and encouraged her to look ahead whenever skating got tough.

“She taught me you can always know more, do more, give more,” Kusturin said.

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