Sports athlete of the week

CURRAN Y. OI ‘13 Before MIT, a world-class figure skater Oi takes sixth place at US National Championships in 2008-2009 season

Nearly 10 years ago, Curran Y. Oi ’13 was picked to skate as a young Scott Hamilton in the Boston stop of Stars on Ice. Since then, he has placed sixth in the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, beating Olympic competitor Johnny Weir in the short program.

Oi began skating at age 6 after watching skaters perform jumps on a figure skating program on TV. “My parents don’t remember what program we were watching, but apparently I got really excited and wanted to do all the jumps, so they signed me up for lessons,” Oi said.

At age 10, Oi moved to a more intense training environment and took more private lessons. By high school, Oi was going to the rink 5–6 times every week for three to four hours per day.

Because of his practice and competition schedules, Oi only went to school for half a day and was home-schooled for a few classes. “I didn’t have a lot of friends [in high school] because I wasn’t there very much. I also didn’t have much time to spend with any of my friends because I was trying to juggle school and skating.”

His hard work paid off in competitions. By his last two years of high school, Oi was traveling internationally about 5–6 times a year for competitions, frequently placing in the top 10. During his senior year of high school, he placed fifth at the World Junior Championships, second in the Junior Grand Prix in Italy, and sixth at the U.S. National Championships. “My best [competition] experience had to be my last nationals. It was pretty much the perfect competition. Skated really well, the event was really well run,” Oi said.

Unlike most ice skaters who practice this much, Oi has been able to avoid major injuries. “The worst ones I’ve had are mostly ones you can kind of work through,” Oi said. “So I’ve had tendonitis in my knees and my ankles, but I’ve never had to have surgery, never a broken bone — no torn anything.”

Though he successfully managed to balance skating and academics in high school, Oi gave up competing at an international level to come to MIT. He doesn’t regret the decision at all: “Basically, what I was giving up in high school, I get to have now. So I have a lot of friends now; I have some downtime now.”

Though he’s now less dedicated to the sport, Oi still skates and practices a few hours a week when Johnson Ice Rink is open. Despite not having a coach anymore, he has competed twice representing the MIT Figure Skating Club and placed second in the U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships last August.

Oi is now a sophomore in Course XXII, and possibly Course VIII as well. “I think fusion’s really cool, and if you want to do fusion, you kind of have to know a lot of physics — especially E-and-M stuff. And I like physics, so even if I didn’t like fusion, I’d probably do [physics] anyway,” Oi said.

Oi hasn’t decided on what he will do after he graduates from MIT. “I’m still considering skating again after college — graduating and then going and competing for a few more years,” Oi remarked. “I haven’t figured out whether I’m actually going to do that or not, but it’s still an option.”