Figure skater Starr Andrews of L.A. is first recipient of $25,000 award

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Helene Elliott
·2 min read
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Starr Andrews performs during the women's free skate program at the U.S. championships Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas.
Starr Andrews of Los Angeles, pictured skating Friday, finished 12th at the U.S. championships in Las Vegas. (John Locher / Associated Press)

Figure skater Starr Andrews of Los Angeles was named the first recipient of a $25,000 award from the Mabel Fairbanks Skatingly Yours Fund, which was established by U.S. Figure Skating to support the training and development of skaters who are Black, Indigenous and people of color.

The fund is named for Fairbanks, who was of Black and Indigenous heritage and frequently faced racial discrimination during her career as a skater and coach. She helped her pupils bring down many barriers and in 1997 was the first Black person elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Fairbanks, who signed autographs with the phrase, “Skatingly Yours,” coached many skaters in Southern California and was famous for putting together Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, two-time Olympians who won five U.S. pairs championships.

Andrews, 19, practices at the Rinks-Lakewood Ice in Lakewood and is coached by Derrick Delmore, the 1998 men’s world junior champion. She also will receive a matching award of $25,000 from Guaranteed Rate, a corporate sponsor of U.S. Figure Skating. That company will feature Andrews in an advertising campaign.

Andrews knows of Fairbanks’ pioneer status in skating and appreciated the significance of the award. “I think it’s amazing,” Andrews said in a phone interview from Las Vegas, where she finished 12th in the 2021 U.S championships. “She paved the way for everyone to be accepted in this sport, so I think it’s such an honor to get this award.”

According to U.S. Figure Skating, the Fairbanks Fund will honor athletes based on their sportsmanship, commitment, perseverance and “determination in striving to be their very best in the sport and in their off-ice pursuits.” An award of $10,000 will be given to an up-and-coming athlete, and $5,000 will be given to a developmental athlete. The funding will come from the Lisa McGraw Figure Skating Foundation, which has long provided financial support to skating clubs and to individual skaters such as Paul Wylie and Nancy Kerrigan.

The costs of skating can mount quickly for top skaters. “This will go mostly for my training and doing more ballet and Pilates and off-ice stuff, and for my coaches,” Andrews said.

Atoy Wilson, who is the executor of Fairbanks’ estate and in 1965 became first Black skater to compete at the U.S. championships, said the award will be given annually and is intended “to best honor the legacy of Mabel Fairbanks and who she was.” Wilson has known Andrews and her mother Toshawa for many years through common skating friends, and he said Andrews is deserving of the award.

“She’s a lovely young lady, open, curious, talented,” Wilson said by phone. “She has that drive. She has that spark.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.