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Isabeau Levito Lights Up the Skating World



by Liz Leamy

Photos copyright 2022 by George S Rossano 

(26 September 2022)  Isabeau Levito, the reigning Junior World Champion and 2022 U.S. bronze medalist, is one of those skaters who has always generated a great amount of buzz practically wherever she has gone, much like many past World and Olympic champions.  Ever since this talented and accomplished 15 year-old Mount Holly, New Jersey native first began competing, she has been a force on the skating circuit due to her remarkable level of athleticism, grace and fluidity.

In looking at Levito’s astonishing competitive history, it is particularly interesting to note that she has been following in similar footsteps as that of some other U.S. World and Olympic champions and medalists who have also been based out of the New York City metropolitan area.

Some members of this group include Sarah Hughes, the 2002 U.S. Olympic gold medalist from Great Neck, Long Island who stunned onlookers as a five year-old at New York-metro area competitions with an Axel, double Salchow and double toe loop; Tara Lipinski, the 1998 U.S. Olympic titlist and New Jersey native who made the same mark in the novice category at 10 with a double Axel, triple Salchow and triple toe loop; and Elaine Zayak, the 1982 U.S. World champion from Paramus, New Jersey who cleaned up in the novice division at age 11 with a double Axel, triple Salchow and triple toe loop, among a few notable others.

Levito, who trains at the Igloo Ice Rink in Mount Laurel Township in Southern New Jersey with longtime coach Yulia Kuznetsova, has been a veritable force on the competitive scene from the jump.

Coming up the line, Levito racked up first place finishes at many non-qualifying competitions in the New York metro area from the Well Balanced No Test through the qualifying regional and national categories.

By age 10, she had clinched the 2018 U.S. Juvenile title with a double Axel, triple Salchow and triple toe loop and the next season, she went on to score silver in the 2019 U.S. Intermediate division at age 11.

The next year, Levito claimed silver at the 2020 U.S. Championships in the junior category at age 12 and then went on to win the junior title at the 2021 U.S. Championships at 13.

Last year, in her first foray as a senior, Levito scored bronze at the 2022 U.S. Championships at age 14.

Two months later in April, Levito won gold at the 2022 U.S. Junior World Championships in Talinn, Estonia, designating her as the first American to have achieved this feat in this division since 2008, when Rachael Flatt, the 2010 U.S. titlist, has placed first there.

For Levito, it’s all about being the best she can be, something that has been a goal for her ever since she first started skating.

Right from the outset, when Levito’s mother, Chiara Garberi, enrolled her in Learn-to-Skate classes at age three at the Igloo Ice Rink as a means to help strengthen her balance, Levito instantly took to the sport.

Soon thereafter, Levito began taking private lessons with Kuznetsova and at that point, it was clear the energy was palpable between the two, who immediately clicked together.

Their chemistry, along with the fact that Levito’s mom was as committed as ever to supporting her daughter’s love of skating, seems to be much of the reason why she has evolved into the skater that she has become today.

In the beginning part of her developmental process, Levito seemed to inherently understand the importance of time, focus and hard work and started to practice with her coach regularly.

At the rink, Levito and Kuznetsova would work on learning all of the primary elements, including edges, turns, power, the basic spins and single and double jumps.

With this base, Levito soon began to evolve an exceptional skater as well as a standout competitor in the New York metropolitan region.

By age 10, she had obtained lightning-quick triples through the toe loop that helped catapult her to the pinnacle of the sport nationally and ultimately, on a global level.

Several years later, Levito could execute all of the triple jumps through the Lutz, much of the reason she went on to wind up on the 2020 U.S. junior podium at age 12.

When asked who has most inspired her on her journey so far, Levito said Evgenia Medvedeva, the 2016 and 2017 Russian World Champion and 2018 Olympic silver medalist, was the primary skater she has always admired and looked up to.

“I always remember watching her when I was younger and just being glued to the phone screen in the car while eating my lunch,” said Levito said at a press conference at the 2022 U.S. Championships last January.

Levito, who style vividly echoes the same balletic and athletic characteristics as those of Medvedeva, has built herself into a vital force of the sport, especially over the past several seasons.

For Levito, however, it’s now about staying focused on continuing to improve.

“Next season, I hope to improve on becoming even more of a well-rounded skater,” said Levito.

According to Levito, the best part of competing is having the opportunity to share her love of skating with others.

“What I enjoy most about skating is performing in front of a crowd and people,” said Levito.

This past season, the moments that stood out most for Levito was performing at the U.S. and World Junior Championships.

“I feel that during Nationals and Junior Worlds I truly enjoyed performing my programs,” said Levito. “To me, what stood out most was how large the events were, but this only made the events more satisfying.”

Clearly, Levito delivered the message of her love of skating to those on hand at these events considering they gave her huge standing ovations.

Meanwhile, Levito earned big props from decorated NBC media commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir for the quality of her skating.

“She is absolutely stunning, technically brilliant but artistically way beyond her years,” said Lipinski, who is also the 1997 World champion and 1997 U.S. titlist, in regard to Levito’s performances in Nashville. “Everything is nuanced and detailed.”

Weir echoed similar sentiments.

“She has such poise,” said Weir, the 2008 World bronze medalist and three-time U.S. champion, about Levito’s programs in Nashville. “Tremendous skating, it was almost like she was skating in a whisper. We leaned in to hear more.”

Certainly, as Levito continues to glide on this amazing path, training as steadfastly as ever with Kusnetsova, as well as Otar Japaridze, Slava Kuznetsov, Evgeni Platov and Zhanna Palagina, it will be exciting to reach greater heights with her skating in coming years, that is for sure.

Levito will be making her Senior Grand Prix debut at the 2022 Skate America competition in Noorwood, Massachusetts, the third week of October.