World Champion Figure Skater Applies Her Competitive Edge to Medical Career

Women figure skating. Caption: Army 2nd Lt. Ava Dimmick, a world-class synchronized ice skater, is a member of the Hebert School of Medicine class of 2026 at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).  (Photo credit: Army 2nd Lt. Ava Dimmick and  KR Photos)

By Ian Neligh


World-class figure skater Ava Dimmick traded in her skates for a stethoscope earlier this month as she started medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ (USU) H├ębert School of Medicine.  

The newly-commissioned Army second lieutenant exudes excitement and passion about the new challenge and opportunity for teamwork with fellow classmates. For Dimmick, USU represents the logical next step to give back and help others as a military doctor after years of representing the United States on an international stage.

“I’ve always been interested in medicine… (this is) the next level of representing our country and giving back to it — it was kind of a perfect blend,” Dimmick says.


‘U.S.A’

Army 2nd Lt. Ava Dimmick, a world-class synchronized ice skater, traded in her skates for a stethoscope as a new medical student at USU this year. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
Army 2nd Lt. Ava Dimmick, a world-class synchronized ice skater,
traded in her skates for a stethoscope as a new medical student at
USU this year. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
Dimmick’s parents exposed both her and her sister to a little bit of everything in the sports world from their hometown in Frederick, Md., but ultimately skating took hold.

“When I was three years old, my parents put me in figure skating classes,” Dimmick says. “We always joke that ‘they’re the ones that started this.’ And I stuck with it. I competed in what is called synchronized ice skating.”

Synchronized skating consists of a team of 16 skaters performing intricate maneuvers while on the ice. The sport is lightning fast, and requires a tremendous amount of practice. In 2018, Dimmick accepted an offer to join the famous Haydenettes Synchronized Skating Team, determined to become the best she could be.

“We trained about 20 hours a week together, whether that’s on the ice, doing strength training off the ice, ballet — or even just standing in front of a mirror making sure all of us are in sync with our movements,” recalls Dimmick. “We’re spinning, going backward, doing overhead lifts for girls doing splits up in the air, and we’re traveling down the ice with them over our heads.”

Dimmick's four years performing with the Haydenettes resulted in several national championship victories, competitions on an international level, and a place in the top five at the 2022 World Championships.

“When we’re out there all together, there are so many things that you're thinking of,” she says. “Everyone has to be at the same time, so you are hitting all of your counts, ‘are you getting the timing of your lift?’ Because if one person is off in pushing up a lift too soon, that can completely hinder the rest of the lift. It’s all about timing. It is just as much a mental focus as it is a physically demanding sport.”

Dimmick says a single program can leave her and her team utterly wiped out when they get off the ice.

“You get to the end and you’re so physically gassed, it is very physically demanding.” says Dimmick.

During her time competing, she traveled to Sweden, Austria, Finland, Canada, France, and England, representing the United States. One of the things she enjoyed most was hearing the audience shout “U.S.A.”

“Hearing those words when you take the ice is something I dreamed about when I was younger, so to hear the crowd chanting those three letters ‘U.S.A.’ there’s nothing like it,” Dimmick says.


‘The next challenge’

Stepping away from the sport on a competitive level to pursue military medicine at USU was not an easy decision, but Dimmick says her interest in healthcare and medicine has always gone hand-in-hand with being an athlete, and that her two interests share a lot of commonalities.

“It (the process) was similar to figure skating in that you’re always working toward a goal, there’s always something off on the horizon… it’s the same thing with medicine, whether it’s taking the MCAT, scoring on the MCAT or taking that first interview and getting into a medical school - there’s always been a goal.”

“I’m up for the next challenge and there’s always something to be aiming for or to learn. I’m very excited.” - Army 2nd Lt. Ava Dimmick, first-year medical student.

Dimmick adds that she wants to give back and help others because of the inspirational examples her parents and coaches have been to her, and the encouragement she's received for her step forward.

“I’ve had phenomenal role models.”

At USU, Dimmick once again finds herself pushing her drive, dedication, and perseverance to the limit, learning to become one of the best of the best in military medicine.

“I’m up for the next challenge and there’s always something to be aiming for or to learn. I’m very excited.”