Gesiotto takes lessons from rink to Miss USAMiss Ohio credits her composure in front of crowds to skating training
Injury brought an end to Madison Gesiotto's skating career four years ago, but since then, she has carried her ability to stay calm under pressure and perform for an audience to the pageant world. Last week, Gesiotto took part in the Miss USA pageant, representing Ohio.
"My skating experiences truly shaped my character and ignited an internal drive that continuously pushes me to succeed in all my endeavors," said Gesiotto, 22, who still skates recreationally and coaches part-time.
From the ages of eight to 18, Gesiotto trained at the renowned Winterhurst Figure Skating Club in Lakewood, Ohio. Her main coaches were Carol Heiss Jenkins, an Olympic gold medalist, and Roberta Mitchell. She also worked with Tonia Kwiatkowski, Chip Rossbach and Brian Linc. Frank Singley and Renée Roca were her choreographers. Before injury ended her on-ice career, Gesiotto completed her senior/gold free skating and move-in-the-field tests in 2010.
"Carol Heiss Jenkins had a lasting influence on me as a person," Gesiotto said. "Growing up, she was not only my figure skating coach, but she also served as a wonderful role model. Carol is an intelligent, driven and family-oriented woman who helped shape my personal character throughout my skating career."
Gesiotto was introduced to the pageant world by her younger sister, who also competed. She said skating taught her how to emotionally engage with an audience and draw them into each performance, which she found especially helpful during pageant preparation.
Being crowned Miss Ohio USA brought Gesiotto to Baton Rouge, La., site of the 2014 Miss USA pageant. She said highlights of the two weeks she spent in Baton Rouge leading up to last Sunday's live television broadcast were visiting the USS Kidd, touring several museums and spending time at the Celtic Media Center, where films such as Twilight, Oblivion and Battleship were filmed.
"The Miss USA experience was phenomenal," Gesiotto said. "What I personally enjoyed most were the interview opportunities that I was granted at the competition. Whether I was meeting with the judges as part of the preliminary competition or speaking with reporters and radio hosts, interviews gave me the opportunity to really make a connection with the people I was conversing with, as well as to give them insight into who I am and what is important to me.
"Composure under pressure is something that was not new to me when I entered the Miss USA competition," she added. "I have always been a very competitive person and perform well under pressure. In order to keep my composure, I looked at each day of competition as a new opportunity for me to impress the judges."
At 5-foot-6, Gesiotto was fairly tall for a figure skater, but quite petite in a sea of 5-foot-10 and taller pageant contestants. She viewed it with a sense of humor and went full throttle when strutting her stuff.
"What I love about all of the glitz and glamour that comes along with pageantry would be the evening gown competition," she said. "I absolutely loved designing and wearing my national evening gown."
During her personal interview, figure skating was among the topics. She also answered questions about her political awareness platform, her work with the Wounded Warrior Project, her research at Ohio State University and her thoughts about the political and economic state of the country.
Although not among the finalists, Gesiotto found the whole Miss USA experience inspiring. Sunday night, she celebrated with family and friends at a local restaurant, where she indulged in one of her favorite foods, macaroni and cheese.
This will likely be her final pageant, as higher education awaits. She will begin law school at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law in August.