Column: SK8R girl from Rye takes on the world

Netta Schreiber is more than your average teen. At the age of 12, she became a member of the Israeli Ice Skating Federation. Contributed photos

Netta Schreiber is more than your average teen. At the age of 12, she became a member of the Israeli Ice Skating Federation. Contributed photos

Netta Schreiber is your typical 15-year-old girl from Rye. She likes hanging out with her friends on the weekend, eating hamburgers at Ruby’s, listening to classic rock like The Who and shopping for clothes at lululemon and American Apparel.

But the similarities end there.

From the time she was seven years old and her grandmother thought it might be a good idea to learn how to skate—in case she had a birthday party or something—Netta has spent most of her waking hours on 3/16-inch-thick carbon steel blades. She’s a skater girl.

Netta was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1998. She spent the first four years of her life there before moving to Rye. She started skating at Playland in weekly group lessons. It was love at first skate.

Group lessons became private lessons and soon, Netta’s coach informed her parents she had the potential to be a seriously good skater. In middle school, she skated daily while attending school, but found it challenging to find rink time when it wasn’t overcrowded and dangerous.

It became obvious something needed to change.

After her first month of eighth grade, Netta’s coach suggested “distance learning” with Laurel Springs, allowing her to spend most of her day skating.

“At first, my parents were totally against it, but my coach said, if I was going to go anywhere in skating, I had to home school,” Netta said.

There were two other skaters at her rink who were doing it, so it made the transition easier.

“I was really happy with my decision,” she said.

Rye’s Netta Schreiber, 15, has her sights set on the 2018 Olympics in Korea. She recently competed in the Junior World Championships.

Rye’s Netta Schreiber, 15, has her sights set on the 2018 Olympics in Korea. She recently competed in the Junior World Championships.

Netta went from doing novice-level local competitions in the tri-state area to junior international competitions.

In 2011, at the age of 12, Netta became a member of the Israeli Ice Skating Federation, an organization started 17 years ago with one skater that now has more than 30.

“Netta is a hard-working, dedicated athlete. She sets a good example for youngsters. With hard work and patience, good things will happen,” Boris Chait, president of the federation, said.

The membership brought Netta the international exposure to move her to the next level of competition. In the summer of 2012, she had her first Junior Grand Prix. Then, in 2013, at the Mentor Nestle Nesquik Torun Cup, in Torun, Poland, she won the Bronze medal and her scores qualified her for the upcoming World Championships in Japan in 2014.

“When the score came through, I knew what it meant immediately,” Netta said. “It’s the best news of your life as a skater. I didn’t cry. I just stood there in shock. I had so many mixed feelings. And my phone was dead! When I finally got to speak to my parents back in Rye, it was 2 a.m. and we were all screaming on the phone.”

On March 10, Netta left Rye with her mom Danit, a yoga instructor in Greenwich, Conn., and Harrison, for the World Junior Championship in Bulgaria, which alone would be a huge accomplishment, but it served as a warm-up for what came the following week, the World Championships in Saitama, Japan.

“I never thought about not competing at Junior Worlds—I thought the best thing was to go to both. Yes, it’s very demanding physically, but it’s what athletes live for.”

Netta arrived on the world stage at the age of 15, the youngest skater, male or female, in the competition.

“The first day I arrived, I was so intimidated—these were the skaters I had been watching my entire life—skaters like Mao Asada, Yuzuru Hanyu and Carolina Kostner,” Netta said. “I was so nervous I couldn’t even eat!”

And she had to skate first.

“I was the only skater without a world ranking—I had to go first. But my mom gave me great advice. She said, ‘No one knows you, no one cares.’ That helped me relax a lot. It was my dream to get to the world stage and I had no expectations. I just wanted to enjoy every minute. I let the nerves go in practice,” Netta said.

Did she learn anything from her big experience?

“I learned a lot, especially that, behind the scenes, everyone is crazy—even the best skaters,” Netta said.

And sitting in the “kiss and cry” for her first world championship?

“It’s terrifying,” she said. “You don’t know what to expect, even when you’ve had a good skate. The judges are all so different and, with an unranked skater, they can have mixed opinions. There is no set range when you go first.”

When it was all over and the numbers were announced, Netta “felt a big sense of relief. And then my first thought was—I can eat.”

Netta has her sights set on Korea for the 2018 Olympics. She believes hard work beats talent and anyone who works hard enough can be an Olympian.

For now, with the season officially over, she’s taking a week off to catch her breath and refresh, do some restorative yoga and try to return to being a normal kid.

Then it starts all over again.

“I’m at the rink by 6 a.m. and I’m there all day with a break to eat and do homework. I also take ballet and stretching classes,” Netta said. “I take the weekends off and try to have a normal weekend just like any other 15 year old. Being on the road so much, it’s hard being away from my family. They don’t like it when I’m gone. But when we are together, we appreciate it more. We don’t take anything for granted.”

 

To learn more about Netta,
check out her webpage on
The Israeli Skating Federation

http://iisf.org.il/blog/?page_id=3103

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