Club figure skaters go solo, chill competitors

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— Going solo can be a hard thing to do, but seven skaters from the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club recently ventured onto the ice alone for the first time.

Ayla Loper, Jenna Miller, Caroline Wheeler, Samantha Cretney, Malia Fraioli, Domin--ique Katthain and Heather Nereson competed in the Fort Collins Classic from March 31 to April 2.

Coach Kim Haggarty said the first solo skate is an important event for a young figure skater.

"It's hard," she said. "We tell them to have fun. That's all we are trying to do. Go skate your best and have fun."

Most of the 17 members of the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club left Fort Collins with a medal. They also gained valuable experience.

Steamboat had four girls -- Ellie Bender, Ellese Lupori, Sara Pugh and Jane Spann -- participate in the pre-preliminary level, which included three competitions.

The girls had to skate a compulsory moves program without music, completing five required elements. The girls then had to demonstrate their spin proficiency. Finally, the girls performed a free skate to music.

By that time, Haggarty said, the team had been at the rink for nearly 12 hours, so it was difficult to perform.

Kasey Brown competed at the preliminary level.

The other girls participated at the basic level. They had to skate a compulsory moves program and a free skate. Each girl was in the top five in her division.

In addition to the solo skates, the club's Mini Team Volant performed its synchronized program to music from the film "Polar Express," placing third.

The girls -- ages 6 to 9 -- dressed the part, complete with styled hair, makeup and smiles.

"The production of it all, that's all part of it," Haggarty said.

Also competing in Fort Collins were Kayla Haggarty, Cassie Wilhelm, Amy Flavell, Clare Franklin and Hanna Haggarty.

Mini Team Volant will skate at the "Paradise on Ice" spring ice show, which begins at 7 p.m. today at Howelsen Ice Arena. The cost is $5.

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

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