Superior figure skater takes the ice with DisneyMickayla Lindberg of Superior has been figure skating since she was 4, but she never aspired to compete professionally in the sport.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Duluth News Tribune
Mickayla Lindberg of Superior has been figure skating since she was 4, but she never aspired to compete professionally in the sport.
Instead of idolizing Olympic gold medalists like Sasha Cohen or Michelle Kwan, she only had eyes for the costumes and dramatic performances of “Disney on Ice” stars skating as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
“I actually saw a ‘Disney on Ice’ show and said, ‘Mommy, I want to be one of them,’” Lindberg said. “And now I am.”
Just last week, Lindberg, 19, found out she had been selected to be a part of “Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure,” a nine-month tour that will take her throughout North and South America.
She began skating when her family moved from Phoenix to Eau Claire, Wis. During their first winter, her mother, Julie Lindberg, brought her and her two brothers to open skate time at a local rink.
“You get those yucky recreational skates and you push around a chair,” Julie Lindberg said. After just a couple laps, Mickayla ditched the chair and was skating on her own. A family friend said Julie should sign her up for lessons. Julie did, and the next year, Mickayla competed for the first time in an Alice in Wonderland-themed show. The kindergartner even designed her dress for the performance.
It was the first of many.
Skating became a passion for Mickayla, and she began practicing daily and competing regularly. Julie said she and her husband, Dan, always emphasized the joy that skating brought Mickayla and the creative outlet it provided her — not the scores.
“I would always say two things before every performance: ‘Have fun, and go tell me a story,’” Julie Lindberg said. “We never focused on the numbers. If anything, the person that pressured her most was herself.”
Mickayla has been carving out her own story ever since those early days on the rink pushing a chair around. She dabbled in other sports, including a trip to a national competition for archery, but nothing stuck like skating.
“She tried other sports … but with skating, it’s pretty much all or nothing,” Julie Lindberg said.
Rather than taking the traditional competitive route by advancing through regional and national competitions, Mickayla found joy in learning new moves and coaching younger skaters.
“I never wanted to go to the Olympics,” she said. “I always wanted to be a show skater.”
Being a professional athlete in any sport is a lofty goal, and figure skating is no exception. So after Mickayla graduated from Superior High School last year, she applied to Lake Superior College’s dental hygiene program but continued skating recreationally. She was put on a waiting list for the LSC program, so when “Disney on Ice” made a stop in Duluth last December, Mickayla auditioned for the show. She wouldn’t be able to start school for a couple of years, anyway.
In the meantime, she landed a role in a production at the Indiana State Fair, where she skated daily during the first two weeks of August. Then, she got the e-mail from “Disney on Ice” saying she’d been selected to tour with the company as an ensemble member.
“I never had a clue that this would happen for me,” Mickayla Lindberg said.
Mickayla will also have the opportunity to audition for a bigger part. She’s shooting for Wendy or Tinker Bell from “Peter Pan” and has been working out and practicing daily to audition for those parts.
Her mother said she wouldn’t be surprised if Mickayla got a big part in the show.
“She’s really good at establishing long-term goals and accomplishing them … even for winning a stupid hula hoop contest,” Julie Lindberg said, recalling when Mickayla was 5 or 6 and performed dismally in a hula hoop contest at a brother’s graduation party from DARE, an anti-drug abuse program. She vowed to win the contest when her second brother graduated, and she bought a hula hoop to practice. At the next DARE graduation, the other hula hooping kids didn’t stand a chance and Mickayla swept the contest.
“Disney on Ice” will take Mickayla all around the U.S. and into South America and Canada. It’s a big step, she said, considering she’s never been far from the Midwest.
“I am a little bit (nervous) because I haven’t been away from home at all, and I’ve never been out of the country,” Mickayla Lindberg said. As for the skating? She isn’t worried about that after 15 years of training.
Julie said she and her husband will travel to see Mickayla when the tour is in the Midwest — she’ll be in St. Paul on Dec. 15 and in Wisconsin in early 2014 — but other than that, they won’t see their daughter, the last child to leave home, for the duration of the tour. Mickayla’s older brothers, Logan and Jacob, have both graduated college and found full-time work away from Superior.
“It’s to the point where we’ve got to let her go. That’s the hard part for me,” Julie Lindberg said. “I’m lucky that she’s doing something positive. How many people get to act out her dream? Kudos to her.”