Spotlight on Melissa Bulanhagui
An Unseen Skaters special. January 8, 2005.
Melissa Bulanhagui, 14, qualified for 2005 U.S. Nationals in her third year as a novice by placing 4th at both South Atlantic Regionals and Eastern Sectionals. She represents and trains at the University of Delaware FSC in Newark, Delaware, and is coached by Karen and Ron Ludington. Karen Ludington also choreographed her programs.
How would you describe the feeling of qualifying for "big" Nationals for the first time and on your third try?
I was just happy and excited to finally make it out of Regionals.
When and how did you begin skating?
When I was six I tried a public session at Penn’s Landing, which is an outdoor rink in Philadelphia, and I thought it was fun. From this point I just continued skating.
What has been the most memorable moment in your skating career so far?
Definitely making it to Nationals.
What has been the biggest challenge or disappointment that you have overcome in your skating career?
I don't really feel like I have had to overcome a big disappointment so far in my skating career. I love competing, and in competition you win some and you lose some.
Do you have a funny or embarrassing moment in skating that you're willing to share?
Once when I was competing and I had a good skate, my dad jumped out of the bleachers and bowed in front of the audience. That was embarrassing.
How long have you been working with your current coaches, Karen and Ron Ludington, and how would you describe their respective coaching styles?
I have been working with Karen and Ron Ludington since 1998 and their styles are being positive to help me be a good skater.
What music are you using this season?
”Trisch-Trasch Polka” by Strauss for the short. “Passionata” for the long, but I don't know the composer [Editor note: Melissa’s coach says it is an arrangement based from a collection of Bizet.].
Who choreographed your programs?
How have you improved as a skater since last year, when you placed 10th in the Novice Final at South Atlantic Regionals?
I have learned to keep a more positive, mind over matter, outlook everyday I train.
Was there one competition in which you performed well that helped build your confidence this season? If yes, which one and please explain why.
Really, the thing that helped motivate me most this season was the Liberty Open competition [in Newark, Delaware in July 2004]. I skated poorly and I realized I needed to work harder because I knew I was capable of more.
How would you summarize your performances at South Atlantic Regionals (4th place) and at Eastern Sectionals (4th place)?
From the beginning of the season, my plan was to perform what I was solid and consistent in practice. As I became more consistent in new jumps, I would add them to my program. By doing this I was able to compete, confident that I could do everything in my program.
[Editor’s note: Melissa won the short program at Eastern Sectionals with straight first place ordinals from the judges. Her jumps were: high 2axel, big 3toe-2toe, lots of steps into 2loop. She placed 5th in the free skate, and her jumps were: 2axel(step out), huge 3toe-2toe, 2lutz-2toe, 2flip, another big 3toe, traveling 3-turns into 3loop(fall), and a high 2axel.]
Will you be making any significant changes in your programs for Nationals?
I guess the most significant change I will be making is adding my triple lutz combination.
What are your goals for Nationals in Portland? What are your long-term skating goals?
Skating my best is my goal for Portland. My long-term goal is to be the best skater I can be and to always have skating as a fun sport to me.
What do you consider to be the strongest and weakest aspects of your skating?
I think the strongest aspect of my skating is that I really enjoy working hard and I love to compete. My weakest aspect would be that I always am losing my CDs.
What is your current favorite jump, spin and connecting element to do?
Triple axel is my favorite jump because I can get high in the air and it's exciting. Layback is my favorite spin because I like to see how many times I can rotate. Footwork is my favorite connecting element because I like to make it interesting and difficult.
What person or persons has/have had the greatest influence on your skating?
Michelle Kwan because she is so graceful and she never gives up and she loves to skate.
Who are your favorite skaters and why?
Michelle Kwan (see above).
What is your current schooling arrangement, grade, and favorite subject?
I'm in ninth grade at Newark High School. I go to school from 7:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and my favorite subject is history.
What are your goals beyond skating?
To go to an Ivy League college.
What do you like to do for fun away from the ice?
Going to the mall and spending time with my friends and family.
What is your ethnic heritage and do you speak your parents' language?
Filipino. My parents were born in the Philippines and I have been to the Philippines once but I can't speak the language.
Do you have any similarly athletic siblings?
I have an older brother and he did basketball.
What do you like the most about skating that motivates you to keep going day in and day out?
I like working hard because it's fun.
Name: Melissa Bulanhagui
Date of Birth: August 16, 1990
Place of Birth: Philadelphia, PA
Height: 4' 11"
Hometown: Newark, Delaware
Training Town: Newark, Delaware
Home Club: University of Delaware
Coaches: Karen and Ron Ludington
Choreographer: Karen Ludington
Photographs courtesy of and copyright © Mike T. Skate photograph copyright © Dave Amorde. Unless otherwise noted, all content is copyright © 2000-2005 Unseen Skaters. All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce elsewhere without permission.