Freshman Beinenson finds beauty in figure skating


Courtesy of Leia Beinenson

Leia Beinenson stands on the podium after placing second at the East Coast regionals in November of 2021.

Archer Streelman

In places without constant cold weather, winter sports can be obscure and less popular. Freshman Leia Beinenson is among the few who participate in the niche sport of figure skating in the warm southern climate.

Beinenson started figure skating when she was three and a half years old under the guidance of her mother, who is Russian.

“I grew up in a place with long winters, and such sports as skiing and skating have been a big part of my childhood,” Natalia Beinenson said.“I have always admired skating and wanted to do it professionally. Unfortunately, my mother could not afford for me to take lessons.”

In addition, Natalia Beinenson new skating would teach her daughter important life skills.

“To me, figure skating is the most graceful and elegant winter sport that has the ability to build character and brings positive emotions to the athlete and the spectator,” Natalia Beinenson said. “What I admire about my daughter’s skating is how it constantly transforms her. Through skating, she learned resilience, consistency, the ability to bounce back from setbacks, face her fears and have a go-getter spirit. I will never get tired of her on the ice showing off her skills and her big personality.”

Leia Beinenson skates three times a week for two hours at The Cooler skating rink in Alpharetta where she is coached by Eric Bohnstedt. Bohnstedt is a US National Bronze Medalist.

“Most people probably think practices consist of technical work like jumping and spinning,” Bohnstedt said. “However, there is also a lot of time spent on mastering skating skills such as power skating, edge control and difficult terms. She must also work on flexibility, artistry and choreography. Off the ice she has to work on her strength for skating and practice injury prevention.”

Leia Beinenson practices to prepare for her skating competitions that have taken her to Florida, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as at home in Atlanta. Leia Beinenson placed second at the East Coast regionals in November of 2021.

“I have competitions all year round because this is a year round sport,” Leia Beinenson said. “From November to March I work on programs and routines for the season ahead. I start again from there for competitions.”

Bohnstedt has coached Leia Beinenson for five years. He said he has enjoyed watching her grow as a person and as a skater in that time.

“Having worked with Leia since she was young, I have learned her strengths and her strong personality and intelligence,” Bohnstedt said. “Like that she is a bit strong-willed to not give up and push forward to achieve her ice skating goals.”

Skating provides Leia Beinesnson an escape from everyday life.

“Skating is a way for me to get out of normal life and take part in a different reality,” Leia Beinenson said. “I get the chance to escape everything. It is very relaxing to me, I have been doing it my whole life so it is part of me now.”

Skating routines consist of many parts including jumps, spins and dance.

“Spins are my favorite part of what I do,” Leia Beinenson said. “I can do them all day everyday.”

Beinenson has her own skating style that she said makes her stand out.

“Leia’s skating is all Leia,” Bohnstedt said. “She has learned to let her fun quirky side come out into the difficult technical elements of her performances.”

Following the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Leia Beinenson looks to the best for inspiration.

“I look up to Alyssa Lu because she competes at such a high level at such a young age, like going to the olympics,” Leia Beinenson said. “She is really nice to people from her interviews and I have met her personally and skated with her before. I also enjoy watching Nathan Chen because he is also really good.”

Leia Beinenson plans to continue to skate throughout highschool and into college.

“She is a very hard working person,” freshman and friend Gigi Highlander said. “She is so dedicated to ice skating, it’s actually impressive.”