Now that's a comeback.
After 10 years away from the sport, Greenbush resident Katie Pagnello returned to figure skating two seasons ago.
Last weekend, in Kamloops, B.C., Pagnello hit the top of the podium in her class at the Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships.
Not only did Pagnello win the gold medal in Women's Silver Freeskate Class I, she did it with a score that was a personal best.
Pagnello said she knew going into her performance that she would need to put up her best-ever performance after seeing the score posted by the woman who skated immediately before her.
“When I heard her score, I knew it was higher than my personal best,” said Pagnello. “I knew at that point I really had to step it up. Not only did I need to have a clean skate, I had to have my best skate.”
In the end, Pagnello's performance netted her a score of 18.69, besting the 16.26 of Coquitlam Skating Club's Jennifer Nam.
The victory caps what has been a meteoric rise for Pagnello since she came back to the sport.
“The first season, it was literally building up the stamina to be able to skate for a full practice,” she said.
But with the support of long-time coach Kim Ferguson and her fellow skaters at the Athens Figure Skating Club, Pagnello didn't take long this season to establish herself as serious competitor.
Ferguson said Pagnello told her last season that she would make the nationals this year.
Then, she set about proving it.
“She just got better and better,” said Ferguson.
The coach credits Pagnello's youthful enthusiasm and positive spirit for much of her success.
She also marvels at Pagnello's hard work, dedication, and ability to quickly build her skillset after such a long time away from skating.
Pagnello has done a remarkable job of honing skills many skaters learn during those formative teen years, said Ferguson.
“That's where the finesse comes in,” she said.
For Pagnello, the return to the ice has provided a new perspective from the one she had as a youth.
“I think the biggest thing now is I'm doing it because it's some that I really want to do,” she said. “It's something I realize I missed.”
Pagnello has one more event on this season's skating calendar, an invitational meet in Gloucester this weekend.
After that, she says, she plans on working hard over the summer and competing again next season.
“This time, I'll keep skating until I can't do it anymore,” she said.