Smooth Skating For Carle Place Teen

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Middle schooler puts in her time, earns medals

Martina Cunha traveled to Virginia this past summer and earned a bronze medal at the Games of America. (Photo Contributed by Patricia Cunha)

Anyone who’s ever watched in awe as figure skaters gracefully glide across the ice and execute intricate moves must suspect that such artistry is built on many hours of practice.

They’d be right.

Patricia Cunha of Carle Place said her daughter Martina, 13, is enthusiastic about figure skating, and committed to mastering the sport.

“She just wants to skate,” said the mother of the Carle Place middle schooler. “She skates two to three hours a day in the summer with some fitness classes during the week. When school starts, she skates one to two hours, three days a week. She skates all year long.”

Martina Cunha is the daughter of John and Patricia Cunha of Carle Place

Patricia added, “Martina started group lessons when she was about 5 years old. I thought it would be nice for her to know how to skate. Martina always looked forward to her time on the ice. When she was 9, she started taking private lessons and has been ever since.”

Martina trains at Iceland in New Hyde Park and also at the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park.

The coaches she works with are Debbie Crawford, Shannon Lenihan, Serguei Soukhnov and Valerie Murray. Crawford trained under Olympic- and World Championship-caliber coaches and has more than 30 years of coaching experience. Soukhnov was a member of the Russian national team and according to one profile, has “25 years of experience coaching beginners through USFS Senior level.” Murray is director of skating at the Eisenhower Park rink and has been a coach with the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

Taking Bronze

Martina earned a bronze medal for New York State in the Excel Preliminary Plus free skate competition at the State Games of America. This is an Olympic-style event gathering athletes from statewide sports festivals (New York’s is known as the Empire State Games) from 30 states. The games, held at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, drew more than 14,000 athletes earlier this summer.

Athletes earning a medal not only earned a medal for themselves but also for [their state] while representing their hometown,” stated a press release.

Martina skated her routine to the song “Sweet Charity” from the well-known musical.


According to Patricia, her daughter qualified for the State Games of America when she competed in the Garden State Games in New Jersey and came in first place. “We were all ready to go to the Empire State Games but she came down with the flu the day before we were supposed to go. She was upset that she wasn’t able to go,” said Patricia.

Patricia said Martina competes all over Long Island, and on Sept. 8, she took second place in the Middle Atlantic Competition at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

“Martina has always been an extremely hard worker, loves to train, and truly has fun,” said coach Debbie Crawford, who also gave credit to her fellow coaches. “Martina’s passion and dedication is amazing to watch and it continues to develop.”

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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