Ice skater successful in return from injury

Satisfied ... Maia Petterson was awarded second place at the New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Championships in Dunedin earlier this month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

After breaking her back ice skating in 2021, Maia Petterson was certainly surprised when she was awarded second place in this year’s New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Championships.

Earlier this month the Gore 15-year-old placed second in the intermediate novice girls category at the Dunedin Ice Stadium.

‘‘It felt really good. I wasn’t really going there for a placement. I was hoping to get one but I was more going for the fun of it,’’ Maia said.

As she sat down waiting for the results she had no expectations on where she would place, she said.

‘‘As they were reading the placing out they called out my name and was like ‘oh wow, OK’.’’

Maia’s score of 28.84 was a personal best.

It was her first time back competing at a national level. She had been a New Zealand medal-winning figure skater and national representative.

She had moved up a grade since she last competed, so tougher competition was expected, she said.

‘‘I’ve only been back on the ice for six months, so it came as a surprise.’’

In preparation for the competition she built up her strength and skills again with sheer determination.

As to be expected, she had slight nerves before taking the ice on the national stage again.

‘‘I was a little bit worried but it had been good.’’

For the future she hoped to eventually go up a grade, she said.

‘‘I’ve coached young children so I’ll be wanting to get into that properly again with Kiwi Skate.

‘‘I’ll see how I go there.’’ Maia’s mother Angie said the other skaters in Maia’s group were all very strong.

‘‘Looking at the scores . . .well they were pretty good scores,’’ she said.

She saw the result as a personal victory for her daughter, she said.

‘‘She’s had two years off the ice recuperating, so it was pretty special for her.’’

In 2021, Maia fell on ice during training and broke her back in two places.

Her doctors told her it was likely to be the end of her pursuit of high-level skating.

‘‘It wasn’t until later that I found out my back was fractured.’’

She was put in a back brace for three months to see if her spine would heal itself, but her condition continued to deteriorate.

Last year, she had surgery for the injuries, which included bone grafts and the insertion of rods and screws into her spine.

After a few months back on the ice, she discovered she could still do a lot of the highly skilled manoeuvres she had been doing before the accident.

‘‘I was happy because I’d been off the ice for so long.’’