Ava Ziegler: “My Favorite Thing is the Work”

Ava Ziegler: “My Favorite Thing is the Work”

In her second season on the senior circuit, Ava Ziegler is ready to make her mark. The 2022 US silver medalist at the junior level, Ava was a little under the radar when she turned senior last year, at least compared to Junior World Champion Isabeau Levito. 

However, she surprised audiences in her Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada International last fall, placing third in the short program and impressing judges with her expressive skating. She went on to finish 4th in the competition. 

Unfortunately, Ava couldn’t match that early success as the season went on, finishing 9th at US Nationals. But now, with a year of experience under her belt, the 17-year-old is looking to climb the ranks. 

“Last year, I put a lot of pressure on myself, which was very unnecessary,” Ava explained. “This year, I’m really focusing on being consistent and just trusting myself. Because I know I can do everything that I’m doing. It’s just putting it all together.”

Ava Ziegler (left) earned a silver medal at Cranberry Cup

Ava began her season in August at the Cranberry Cup International, where she won the short program and placed second overall, behind her training mate Lindsay Thorngren. 

It’s clear Ava is a motivated athlete. “I kind of love everything [about skating]. But my favorite thing is the work that I have to put in. The hard work, and feeling the tiredness and the hurt, and just the struggle, because it’s very rewarding at the end of the day when you go out and skate your best. I worked my hardest and it paid off.” 

Over the summer, Ava upped her training at her base in Hackensack, New Jersey. “I’ve just been working really hard and pushing myself to do bigger and better things and become more consistent. And I’m also balancing work with taking time for myself to go do good things.”

“I love going to the beach with my friends. And shopping and driving around.” She also loves her dog and her pet rabbit, Cocoa (who came to Massachusetts with her for Cranberry Cup!) 

Connecting to new programs

This season, Ava worked with choreographers Jamie Isley (SP) and Nikolai Morozov (FS). For the short program, Ava is skating to “Jazz Man” by Beth Hart and Juan Carlos. It’s a fun program with a lot of opportunities to appeal to the audience and the judges. “I just connected with it really well,” Ava shared. “So as long as I connect with my programs, I love them.” 

The light-hearted short program contrasts with a more emotional Free Skate to “Liberation” and “Bound to You” by Christina Aguilera. “My Free Skate is a lyrical piece – it’s kind of like a mix of lyrical and dark and I love it. It’s so pretty. I had a couple of options and we kind of just choreographed it to fit both and then at the end, we decided which piece we wanted to use and which like I connected best with.”

Ava Zeigler and coach Steven Rice after her short program at Cranberry Cup

Ava admires many of the American skaters who were at the top of podiums while she was climbing the ranks. “When I was little I looked up to Nathan Chen, Mirai Nagusu, Karen Chen. Mariah Bell was a big one that I looked up to. I always loved her skating style.”

Ava also has a role model closer to home. Her mom, Tricia Mansfield Ziegler, was a competitive figure skater who finished 5th at the 1995 US Nationals. She’s been one of Ava’s coaches since she started skating as a toddler. “I think that it’s such a special bond,” Ava said. “It means a lot to me. I wouldn’t be where I am without my mom, my coach Steven [Rice], and the whole big group that helped me get to where I am. I’m just thankful.” And when they go home, her mom is her mom, not her coach. “We just leave everything at the rink.”

It was recently announced that Ava will be returning to the Grand Prix this fall at the NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan. She was a late addition after Nicole Schott withdrew. 

In the meantime, Ava will head to the Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy.  It’s her second Challenger Series event – she won the Budapest Trophy in 2022 – and a chance to show that she belongs as a regular on the international scene. 

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