By Amaris Castillo
Dracut's Arianna Concepcion finished third in the intermediate level during the recent 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
"I'm just really excited that I was able to rank at my first Nationals," Arianna, 14, said after arriving home from San Jose, Calif. "My favorite part was being able to go out and compete with the top 12 ladies and show a really good program for me."
The freshman at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro had been intensely focused on her two skating programs at the Nashoba Valley Olympia Skating Rink in Boxboro in preparation for the Nationals. She skates there five days a week for up to four hours each day. Arianna joined the Colonial Figure Skating Club when she was 8.
Arianna's total score at Nationals was 126.24 points. Indi Cha (Skating Club of Boston) won the event with 131.73. Alyssa Chan (Dallas Figure Skating Club) finished second with 128.31.
"I'm very proud of her," said Arianna's mother, Debbie Concepcion. "She really held on, and I'm very, very proud as to where she finished. It's her first Nationals, so she's never experienced it."
Both Arianna and her mother recalled how packed the stands were at the event.
"It was really fun because the people could stand up and give you a standing ovation," said Arianna, adding that she received one. "They could throw stuffed animals for you. ... I got a few.
The Concepcion family found out Arianna qualified for the competition after she placed fourth at the Eastern Sectional Championships in mid-November. Before that, Concepcion finished second in the 2018 New England Regional Championships.
Arianna admitted to feeling some pre-performance jitters.
"But not nervous because I've been training these programs for so long, so I was confident," she said.
Genevieve Coulombe, co-director of Boxboro-based SkateKostin International, as well as director Konstantin Kostin and others from the team of elite coaches, have worked with the young athlete for more than a year.
After Arianna practiced her two programs before leaving for California, Coulombe said that in her 20 years of experience, the young athlete is one of the hardest workers she has helped coach.
After returning home to Dracut, Concepcion said her daughter would take a week off from skating before starting to prepare for the new season.
"I want to have a Team USA jacket and be on Team USA because I want to be able to skate for as long as I can," Arianna said when asked what her dream is. "Being on Team USA, you can be sent to international competitions. ... If they choose you, you could be sent to the Olympics."
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo. Her email address is acastillo @lowellsun.com.