Meet Isabeau Levito: NJ’s 16-Year-Old Figure-Skating Star Who’s Eyeing 2026 Winter Olympics

Mount Holly resident Isabeau Levito is a force to be reckoned with—in and out of the ice rink.

Isabeau Levito

Skating in the 2026 Olympics is the primary focus for 16-year-old Isabeau Levito, one of the top figure skaters in the U.S. Photo: Ronald Gray; makeup: Andrea Hunter

Many parents have endured the frustration of convincing a cranky toddler to eat dinner. They plead. They beg. Bargain. Cajole.

“If you finish your vegetables, you can watch TV.” “Clean your plate, and you can have dessert.”

It is often a futile effort. 

After Chiara Garberi Levito watched her daughter, Isabeau Levito, pantomime Johnny Weir’s free-skate routine during the 2010 Olympics, she had the ultimate weapon in their dinner wars. Isabeau was transfixed by Weir’s performance, and Chiara decided to enroll her daughter in a weekend skating class. 

“She loved it,” Chiara says of the class. “That’s how I would make her finish her meal. I would say to her, ‘If you finish your meal, we can go to the rink Saturday.’”

Isabeau ate. And she skated. She skated so well that, last January, she became the U.S. women’s champion. Two months later, she finished fourth at the World Championships. The 16-year-old is chasing more success this year and is aiming for a spot on the 2026 U.S. Winter Olympics team that will compete in Milan, her mother’s birthplace. 

Isabeau Levito practices skating in Mount Laurel

Levito practices at her home rink, the Igloo at Mount Laurel. Photo: Ronald Gray; makeup: Andrea Hunter

Levito lives in Mount Holly and trains in Mount Laurel. She thrives on the eight-hour days she spends at the Igloo, her home rink, where a team of coaches, led by Yulia Kuznetsova, prepares her for competition. Though she must sacrifice many ordinary teenage hobbies, Levito is happy. She is homeschooled, but has plenty of friends at the rink. “She can relate to 3-year-olds and 21-year-olds,” Chiara says. She loves to read, crochet and knit. “My hobbies are grandma-esque,” Isabeau admits, laughing.

Some may think Levito has surrendered her youth to pursue gold medals and world championships. But women’s figure skating, at its highest levels, is a young person’s sport. Twenty-one of the 30 female Olympic winners have been 20 years old or younger. If Levito is going to reach the pinnacle, she must devote the next several years to her skating, even if that means postponing things like college. Not that she is leading a cloistered existence. “I do have a social life,” she says, laughing.  

[RELATED: Behind the Scenes of NJM’s Cover Shoot with Figure Skater Isabeau Levito]

January 2024 cover of New Jersey Monthly magazine

Buy our January 2024 issue here. Cover photo: Ronald Gray

Levito also has a maturity that allows her to handle the pressure of competing against the best in the world. While other 16-year-olds are fretting about getting their driver’s licenses, Levito is completing polished routines before large crowds and exacting judges. She says skating’s precise nature and the techniques needed to land jumps are “really satisfying for my perfectionism.” 

Levito has an emotional strength that allows her to relax when competing and an intensity that helps her grind through workouts. “She wants to give all of herself to the sport and the fans,” Kuznetsova says. “Sometimes, I have to calm her down and tell her that it’s okay to make mistakes and that she can learn from them.”

When Levito steps onto the ice to compete, she gains confidence from her extensive training and becomes calm. She thinks only of succeeding. 

Her mother may fret—“I squeeze my purse and have sweat in my hands,” she says—but Levito is composed. 

“In competition, the majority of it is based on [the] mental, because physically, if you’ve been training right, you can do it,” she says. “The only thing that’s keeping you from doing it is handling the nerves. It’s so important, especially when you’re out there on your own and everything’s on you, to be able to handle that and not let that just drown you.”

Isabeau Levito

Levito spends eight-hour days training at the Igloo at Mt. Laurel. Photo: Ronald Gray; makeup: Andrea Hunter

Chiara named her daughter after Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in the 1985 movie Ladyhawke, Isabeau of Anjou, who sometimes takes the form of a red-tailed hawk. Chiara loved Pfeiffer and the name. “It’s different,” she says. Chiara had always liked skating, but she worried because Isabeau’s first few sessions weren’t too smooth.

“She kept falling every two minutes,” Chiara says. But Isabeau kept getting up, and it was easy to see she had talent. Perhaps more importantly, she had a strong drive.

“She’s very intense,” Kuznetsova says. “She will say, ‘I need to do it. I want to do it. I will do it.’”

Kuznetsova skated in her native Russia, but never reached the Olympics. She believes Levito can get there “to realize her dream and my dream” and lists “consistency and confidence in herself” as Levito’s primary strengths. 

Polina Edmunds, a two-time U.S. national silver medalist and the host of Iron Butterfly podcast about figure skating, describes Levito as “an elegant, dainty skater.” She considers the structured, Russian-style training Levito receives crucial to her success. The Russian approach blends artistry—Levito has taken ballet classes— with athleticism and demands extreme mental toughness from an early age.

“The fire to compete is very much present in [Levito] because of the years of childhood hard work,” Edmunds says. “She has such a grit. She comes to win.”

By the time Levito was eight, she was mastering sophisticated techniques and difficult jumps. She trained with a different level of commitment than other young skaters, and Kuznetsova saw tremendous potential. When Isabeau was nine, Chiara removed her from school so that she could devote more time to training. 

In 2018, Levito won the U.S. juvenile championship. The next year, she was a silver medalist in the intermediate division. In 2021, Levito became the U.S. junior champion. A year later, at the World Junior Championships in Estonia, Levito became the first U.S. world junior champion in 14 years. 

Join NJ’s Curling Craze
Quirky Places to Go Ice-Skating
Yes, There’s Dog Sledding in NJ: ‘It’s a Lifestyle’

Where to Cross-Country Ski in NJ
Polar Plunges at the Shore
Beat the Cold with Indoor Activities


Last January, in San Jose, California, she won the U.S. title. After posting the top total in the short program, Levito unfurled a clean free skate that resulted in the best score of her career. NBC commentator Tara Lipinski, a U.S. national champion and Olympic gold medalist, described Levito’s performance as “perfection, precision.” She said Levito was like a “heart surgeon” and that she floated across the ice “like a ballerina.”

“[Winning the title] means the world to me,” Levito says. “It was a milestone in my skating career. It was so important to me.”

Two months later, at the World Championships in Japan, Levito entered the free skate in fourth place. However, she fell during her first jump, a triple lutz-triple loop combination. That error kept her in fourth. 

“It was tragic,” she says. “I went in more confident than I had been all season. I was so ready for that first jump, but it didn’t happen.”

But Levito does not worry about what happened in Japan. “I don’t want to psych myself out,” she says. 

That forward-thinking approach was obvious during the first event of the 2023-24 International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating, when Levito finished second at the Humana Skate America competition in October in Allen, Texas, behind only Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx. In November, she won her first gold at an ISU Grand Prix.

In December, Levito overcame a disappointing short program to finish fifth at the Grand Prix finals in Beijing. Levito had the third-best free-skate score, which was boosted by a triple Lutz-Euler-triple salchow combination.

With her mentality and how she can compete, she’s really strong,” Edmunds says. “She doesn’t fall apart in competition. She comes out and hits it. She definitely has a bright future, barring injury.”

As Levito works toward the keynotes of this season, the 2024 U.S. Championships in Columbus, Ohio, January 22-28, and the World Championship in Montreal, March 18-24, she remains committed to her training. At times, she is stressed about her schoolwork—“My teachers wouldn’t say I’m balancing school and skating so well,” she says with a laugh—and she is always looking for the next book to read. (Taylor Jenkins Reid is a favorite author.) 

When Levito is on the road competing, she brings as many as five books with her. Sometimes, she reads them all. At other times, she only reads 30 pages. “I might be just hanging out with people or actually doing schoolwork,” Levito says. 

Skating in the 2026 Olympics remains Levito’s primary focus. And it would be a family reunion of sorts. Not only did her mother grow up in Milan, but Levito’s grandmother still lives there.

“It’s a crazy coincidence,” she says. “Some would say it’s fate.”

Or just the inevitable by-product of plenty of hard work. 

Michael Bradley is a writer based in suburban Philadelphia and an assistant instructor at Villanova.

No one knows New Jersey like we do. Sign up for one of our free newsletters here. Want a print magazine mailed to you? Purchase an issue from our online store.

Read more Jersey Celebrities, News articles.