Steamboat Springs Heather Nereson doesn’t make a big deal of her life as a figure skater.
A Hayden High School senior, she tends to keep the details of her frequent early departures from school, her four-times-per-week 50-mile commutes and the sport that she's been infatuated with for 15 years to herself.
“I don’t like to talk about my skating that much,” she said.
On Sunday, she took to the ice one final time, skating with the Steamboat Springs Figure Skating Club in its Spring Ice Show. She skated to the song "Beethoven’s 5 Secrets" by The Piano Guys, and she let her secrets out.
“It was like holding in all my secrets from skating from the last 15 years, then releasing them to the crowd as I said goodbye,” she said.
Sunday featured all the adorableness one ever could hope to see at a figure skating show that featured participants from all ranges of the spectrum. There were young girls who waddled onto the ice as if they’d learned to skate yesterday, soaking up the cheers as they made their way around the rink to, what else, “Let It Go” from the animated film "Frozen."
Their parents cheered loudly, and the girls waved through their nervous excitement.
Then there were savvy veterans like Nereson, who came away so loaded down with flowers she barely could carry them all and see where she was walking.
Figure skating has meant many different things to Nereson.
It started on a whim, when her parents challenged her to pull out a loose tooth with the promise of a trip to the ice rink. That was 15 years ago. In the time since, she's skated for Craig and, for the past eight years, Steamboat, and she’s gotten better. She spent five years taking it very seriously, competing across the region.
She eventually decided the competitive circuit wasn’t for her, but that didn’t dampen her love for the sport.
“I’m not a very competitive person,” she said. “I just like doing it for myself.”
She’s tried other sports, running track as a freshman and sophomore in high school. Figure skating, though, always has won out.
“It gives me an opportunity to express myself in ways I can’t on the court,” she said. “I get to show my artistic side and dance to music. I get to express my emotions through different moves I learn and the jumps I can land.”
And she’s as much a coach as she is an athlete. She teaches five classes at Howelsen Ice Arena, helping athletes ranging in age from 4 years old to 15.
Those admiring students made for big fans Sunday, when Nereson skated in her final event in Steamboat Springs.
That performance, releasing her secrets, was about the journey she’s taken, from that little girl with the newly lost tooth to the young woman skating off the ice Sunday.
“It was about all the struggles, everything I’ve gone through to get where I am now,” she said.
She hopes to keep up with the sport next year as she attends Colorado State University, skating for the school’s figure skating club.
She won’t be in that for the competition, but instead, she’ll still be skating for the same reason she has for all these years.
“I want the fun,” she said.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9
Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club