Team Volant off to nationals

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A Steamboat Springs figure skating team has qualified for the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in San Diego with an impressive showing at a regional competition.

Team Volant, the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club's synchronized skate team, placed third in the junior division at the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships held Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 in Salt Lake City.

"We competed against two other teams, but those teams had been in juniors for about five years, and we skipped four levels this year," Carlee McLaughlin said. "It brought us all together, and they welcomed us to their level."

Team Volant moved up five competitive tiers and added four members from last season's squad for this year's competitions.

McLaughlin said the most notable difference between the junior level and the lower levels in which Team Volant competed in the past is the emphasis on technique and difficulty more than on presentation and appearance.

All 16 skaters involved with Team Volant had to pass the U.S. Figure Skating individual requirements to participate on the team.

The current members are McLaughlin, Kelly Ascher, Jessie Cannon, Kelsey Comeau, Carly Earp, Mackenzie Frank, Katie Hansen, Rachel Ivancie, Jamie Jones, Elise Krueger, Katie Krueger, Allison Lewis, Alex Morrison, Sabra Severinghaus, Jenny Spencer and Lauren Ventrudo.

The U.S. championships run March 1 to 7 in San Diego. Team Volant coach Courtney Gill changed parts of both the long and short programs after the Salt Lake competition to boost scoring potential at nationals, so the girls have been busy learning the new routines since early February.

"Our difficulty wasn't as good as some of the other teams," Spencer said.

In addition to team competitions, 16 individual figure skaters of all ages took part in the Colorado Mid-Winter Invitational held Feb. 13 to 15 in Pueblo. It was the first singles competition of the season for the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club, and coach Kim Haggarty said she was pleased with the performances and placements of her skaters.

In the novice division, Spencer and Jones came in fourth and sixth, respectively, in their short programs.

In the intermediate division, Ventrudo finished first in the short program and fourth in her free skate.

Cannon and Frank, both in the open juvenile division, scored well on their compulsory moves and spins. Frank finished second in the spins, while Cannon came in third.

In the open pre-juvenile division, Severinghaus finished first in both her spins and in her short program, while Krueger came in third in her free skate and with her spins. Ivancie finished fourth with her spins in the open pre-juvenile division, as well.

McLaughlin scored a first in her spins in the pre-juvenile division.

Amber Sachs took second in her free skate at the preliminary level, while Camille Sachs, Marilyn Harris and Kasey Brown garnered several fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the compulsory moves and free skate categories.

Sara Pugh finished first with her compulsory moves at the Basic 5 level. Ellese Lupori was third in her free skate.

Cheryl Haberneski finished second in the artistic category and fourth in her free skate in the Adult Silver level.

Nine of Steamboat's singles skaters compete for Team Volant as well, so each girl has been busy preparing for competitions as well as making up school work for the days spent at competitions. Despite the packed schedule, Spencer said she was looking forward to the upcoming trip to San Diego.

"We got a new long program, and our dresses are amazing," she said. "When we put those on, it's exciting to skate."

The next singles competition for the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club is April 2 to 4 at Skate Fest in Fort Collins.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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