BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – It takes a lot of work to fly across the ice.
While other teens are taking vacations or getting part-time jobs, ice skaters all across the state are spending three to four hours a day practicing for summer competition season. The Utah Figure Skating Club, based in the South Davis Recreation Center, helps these skaters identify their talents, refine their routines and, hopefully, work their way up to nationals.
“The skaters are pretty dedicated,” said Joleen Goodfellow, one of the coaches with the Utah Figure Skating Club.
In order to compete in national events, the U.S. Figure Skating Association requires all skaters to be members of an affiliated figure skating club. The Utah Figure Skating Association is one of several groups in the state that qualifies, and all host summer competitions.
Last weekend’s Copper Cup, hosted by the Davis County-based club, serves as the start of competition season for many local skaters. Allison Merges, a 14-year-old who won first place in the Intermediate Ladies category, will head to California for her next competition.
“I’m working on my triple salchaw right now,” said Merges, speaking about a particular kind of jump. “The hardest part of training is getting the confidence to do something. I try to focus on one thing at a time so it’s not overwhelming.”
Merges said she trains three to four hours a day, a common number for serious competition skaters. Some of that training occurs off the ice, usually featuring yoga, pilates or ballet.
“It helps build muscle and increase flexibility,” said Merges.
Most of that training, however, is on the ice. Figure skating clubs often teach group classes for young skaters in order to identify those with the most talent, later pulling them aside for individual training. By the time the skaters start competing, this training can include anything from refining technique to choreographing their routines.
“Some head coaches don’t like to do choreography, and they’ll send the skater to someone else,” said Goodfellow. “Then the head coach will make sure the routine gets polished for competition.”
The club can also help the skaters get costumes. Young skaters bring their music to a seamstress, who will create an original costume by hand to match the music and the planned routine.
“You have to have a story,” said Goodfellow. “The costume needs to fit into that along with everything else.”
The clubs will also hold fundraisers to help skaters pay for things such as competition costumes and new skates. The Utah Figure Skating Club’s most recent fundraiser, “Fairy Tales on the Ice,” was held in May in preparation for summer competitions.
Regional and Sectional competitions begin in the fall, and the national competition is set for this January. Next year’s Olympic team will be chosen at the national competition, and every skater hopes to be on that list.
“Some of our national winners from last year are on track to head back,” said Michelle Thomson, a member of the Utah Figure Skating Club.
Until that happens, the skaters will work to get their wings.
“I love the way I feel like I’m flying through the air during my jumps,” said Merger. She laughed. “I like to fly.”
Davis County Copper Cup winners
Juvenile Girls/Most Inspirational Juvenile Skater
Anna Sophia Rorrer Warren
Ida Tateoka Award