For a family to have one child qualify to compete in one of the three United States Figure Skating sectional championships is pretty amazing. But for three kids from the same family to qualify for the sectionals is incredible.
That’s what the Maravilla brothers — Antonio (age 16), Jon (13) and Juan Carlos (11), also known as J.C. — of Burke, Virginia, have done. They will be competing in the Eastern sectionals this weekend in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Antonio led the family onto the ice. Ten years ago, Antonio was taking ballet. A friend invited him to group skating lessons.
The friend didn’t like the sport and dropped out. But Antonio stuck with it. And when it came time to choose between dance and skating, Antonio stayed with skating.
“I liked the combination of dance and athleticism,” he says. “You have to look nice while you are doing some really hard jumps.”
As the little brother, Jon tagged along to the practices, and soon he wanted to follow in his older brother’s ice skates.
“I want to skate!” he recalls yelling out when he was just 3. By the time J.C. came along, he hardly had a choice.
“It was the only sport I knew because my brothers did it. I didn’t even know about soccer,” J.C. says.
So the Maravillas became a figure skating family. That was fine with their mother, Isabel Isidro. “I don’t like the sun,” she says with a laugh. “Skating is indoors.”
But figure skating is not easy. The brothers practice about 2½ hours a day, five days a week. Even with all that practice, learning the jumps and moves isn’t simple.
It took Antonio two years to learn to land a double axel, a move where the skater leaps and spins 2½ times in the air. When asked how many times he fell trying to learn the jump, Antonio pauses as if calculating the hours, weeks and months.
“About 5,000 times,” he says. “But if you put yourself down after one or two times, you are never going to succeed.”
Recently, skating has become even harder for the brothers. Their father, Nach Maravilla, was diagnosed with cancer in 2017. The illness has meant that the boys have missed practices and competitions.
Helped by their coaches and other families at the Fairfax Skating Arena, the Maravillas have persevered.
“Sometimes, special circumstances create special people,” says Kalle Strid, the family’s coach.
Now, if the boys skate well and finish among the top skaters at the sectionals, it will be on to nationals.
That would be even more incredible.