Yura Min: Skating for More than Herself
Ice dancing is a unique sport.
Who would have thought to stick a knife to the bottom of a boot and slide across the ice to fancy music?
It’s beautiful. There’s grace in ice dancing. And when performed at the highest level, it’s nothing short of a moveable feast. It’s a sport that has amazed and entertained audiences since 1976, and it’s what drives USANA Athlete Yura Min.
There’s immense power in her legs. She’s earned every ounce of strength. It comes from early morning skates and late-night dance practices. Yura has immense balance. The sort of balance reserved for the rare few who move with fluid-like precision. And her focus. If you think gliding across the ice at top speed—backwards—in synch with both the music and her partner comes naturally, you don’t know what makes Yura Min one of the best in the world.
Finding the Rhythm
Yura represented South Korea in 2018 during the Winter Games. It was a pinnacle moment in a career dedicated to performing and connecting with audiences. As a child, Yura loved to compete and entertain. She started as a figure skater at a young age, but moved to ice dancing when she was 13. She never liked the jump elements of figure skating. It’s the art of the dance, bringing joy to her audience, that drove her then, and still drives her today.
“I loved ice dancing from the beginning,” Yura says. “You get to express the music and share your emotions. Every time I take the ice, I want the audience to feel my performance.”
It starts with the music. Always with the music. The International Skating Union selects a style all skaters will perform every year. Last year, it was the rumba. This year, it’s the tango. Before Yura and her partner, Daniel Eaton, can start to learn a new dance, she quietly listens. You have to embrace the music before you can perform it.
“It’s about understanding the music, finding the beat, and making it your own,” Yura says. “I have very strong input regarding the music. I won’t skate to something I don’t like.”
Her coaching staff brings in dance specialists to help them learn the new moves. Before hitting the ice, they practice in a ballroom. You can’t media luna, rueda, or corte on the ice until you can do it on dry land.
Yura has a mischievous laugh. It comes easily and often as she talks about the road that brought her to this moment. You need a good sense of humor to survive her weekly routine. Five days a week, she and Daniel are on the ice for 4–5 hours. Over and over, they’ll practice the intricate details and technical movements. From the ice to the ballroom and back again, they practice. And for good measure, they do weight training to strengthen already strong muscles.
Forming a Bond
Ice dancing is intimate.
The skaters move in unison across the ice, gliding in and out of each other’s arms, in synch with the music. They have to trust each other. Yura compares her relationship with Daniel to an arranged marriage. They didn’t know each other at first, but over time, they built a bond.
Their foundation was simple: to always strive toward perfection. They are both fierce competitors, but oddly pragmatic. Yura says, “Every leap I’ve made in ice dancing has come from slowly incorporating new moves and repeating them until they become effortless.” They start with the footing, add speed and arm movements, until they can execute faster and faster.
“There’s a lot of trial and error every time you skate,” Yura says. “Our goal isn’t to be perfect. It’s to always be improving, even if it’s just by small fractions. It can be frustrating but we keep going.”
Yura trusts Daniel implicitly. The complicated lifts are dangerous. Moving at speed, Yura will step into Daniel’s leg with her skate. One false step, and she could cut him. Misplace her hand, and she can, and has, take a nasty fall. But they keep going, because they’re committed to each other and the sport.
“Accidents happen, but I will always trust him 100 percent,” Yura says. “He’s doing the work, and we’re trusting our bodies and training. It’s in these moments you can let your mind go loose and make special things happen.”
At the Highest Level
You’d think preparing for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang would be different than a regional qualifier, but Yura was emphatic they treat it the same. Sure, it was special for her. She was skating for her home nation in South Korea, but Yura says, “You have to approach each event with the same level of energy. You can lose focus when you put extra value on a certain competition.”
Yura recognized it was an honor to represent the host’s nation. Athletes train their whole lives for the chance at an Olympics. Most never make the team. The fact Yura was able to represent South Korea is something she’ll never forget. She still goes to bed reliving the experience, wonderstruck she was able to share this moment with her family and nation.
“It was amazing,” Yura says. “The support was incredible. The fans cheered for other teams, but they roared when we stepped on the ice.”
And it’s the audience she skates for. She looks at the judges and wants to score well, but her focus is to entertain and inspire the audience. Yura always looks to the crowd, trying to see their faces. Her thinking is simple: they bought a ticket, let’s make sure they have a good time.
“I skate for the audience,” Yura says. “I want to show everyone what I’ve been working on and take them on a journey with my dance. I’m not doing this for the medals. I do it because I love it so much.”
What Her Body Needs
Dancing fuels Yura’s soul. She loves all types of dance, but hip-hop is her obsession. It’s the music and the moves that give her the confidence she needs when she takes the ice. But to fuel her body, Yura trusts her diet and her USANA regimen.
Every day, once in the morning and at night, she takes her HealthPak™. Even though she burns incredible amounts of calories with her intense workouts, she still tries to eat sensibly. Yura drinks Nutrimeal™ shakes for post-workout meals, eats whole foods, plus lots of water. And she feels the difference during her skates.
“I don’t know why, but I never took vitamins before USANA,” Yura admits. “I notice the difference. I recover faster, I feel better in the morning. It’s like I finally found what my body needs.”
Yura still trains five times a week and competes regularly. And with the 2022 Games being held in Beijing, she’s set her goal for another chance to represent South Korea. Ice dancing is Yura Min’s life. A life wrapped in power, beauty, and absolute grace.
7 Facts About Yura Min
- Why do you trust USANA? I trust USANA because, quite simply, they make the best products an athlete can have. Being a professional athlete, it’s not easy to find products that are safe to consume. Also, being able to mix and match what you need for your body makes it convenient for my hectic lifestyle.
- What is your favorite USANA product? I can’t choose just one, so I’ll name two! HealthPak™ is one of my favorites. The last thing I want to do at 6:00 a.m. before practice is open five different bottles of vitamins to take. HealthPak makes it easy to grab-and-go if I’m running late. Second, I absolutely love the entire Celavive® line. South Korea is one of the largest consumers of skincare products, so we want the very best. After I started using Celavive, my skin started to heal and glow. This is absolutely crucial, because a huge chunk of my score is based on appearance.
- Where can you be found when not on the ice? You’ll always find me dancing or listening to music. If I’m not dancing on the ice, I’m dancing off the ice. I’m pretty much the penguin from Happy Feet. When I’m not dancing, I’m hanging on the couch playing either Call of Duty or Fortnite.
- Do you have a secret talent? I’m not sure when this started to happen, but for some reason, birds are just attracted to me. That might sound crazy, but I’ve probably had 10–15 occurrences where wild birds wouldn’t leave my side. I’ve just accepted the fact I’m a Disney princess!
- What are your five favorite current artists? That’s hard; probably Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Dean, Childish Gambino, and 6Lack.
- What is your favorite social media channel to use? 1,000% Instagram, but Snapchat is a close second. Follow me at @yuraxmin.
- What’s a piece of advice for others when it comes to feeling your best? For me, music is the way to the soul. Even if you’re having a bad day, there’s always a song out there that’ll make you want to get up and dance. Also, you better take your vitamins!
*The mentioned athletes are either distributors or dedicated USANA product users who have received compensation and/or complimentary USANA products for their partnership with USANA.
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