Steamboat Skating Club taps Celina Taylor as new skating director | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Skating Club taps Celina Taylor as new skating director

When registration opens in August, the Steamboat Skating Club will have a new director and new direction.

"We've got a new skating director, and this will be a fresh start for a whole new program," Kim Haggarty said.

Haggarty, who was instrumental in starting the Learn to Skate in 1992 and the Steamboat Figure Skating Program in 1994, recently assumed the position of board president. She said she was inspired to get involved again after meeting with Celina Taylor earlier this year and listening to the longtime figure skater’s vision of what the local club could become. Taylor was recently hired as the club’s director of figure skating. 

"Celina has an energy and passion," Haggarty said. "Once I met her, I knew that this is what the programs needed."

For the past several years, the club has been faced with a declining number of participants and has lost valuable ice time to other programs at the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena. The club has also struggled to recruit high-level coaches. Taylor said these factors have led to an increased level of frustration for the athletes in the program and their parents, who are footing the bills.

"This is my baby," Haggarty said. "It's been difficult to sit back and watch. It's time for a change."

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Taylor’s plan calls for drastic changes to the Learn to Skate Program, with hopes of attracting more skaters, as well as to the structure and approach of the programs. To do this, she has already recruited top-level coaches who will take a team approach Taylor said will help athletes progress to higher levels and reach their goals on the ice. She said the club will also take a  creative approach that will include both on-ice and off-ice opportunities designed to develop better ice skaters.

“The Steamboat Skating Club has been restructured to reach more children in the community. Figure skating is an artistic sport, as well as an athletic one, so it will be my goal to marry performance with craftsmanship," Taylor said. "Our spring show will be, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ based on the newly released Broadway musical. The children will have the opportunity to act as well as skate. I want our skaters to experience the creativity that is possible on the ice. This show will be unlike anything ever produced in Steamboat Springs. Auditions will be held in October for principal roles, so we encourage children who are interested in performing to sign up for our free intro Session.”

Taylor's has an extensive background in the sport.

She is a three-time national competitor and sectional gold medalist whose resume includes Junior World selections and training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Taylor holds the highest level of achievement in both freestyle and moves in the field and was offered a principal contract with Disney on Ice at age 17. She is also a member of the Professional Skaters Association and the United States Figure Skating Association.

When Taylor isn't on the ice, she works as the development director the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Colorado — a position she will continue to hold even as she takes on her new role at the club.

She is a mother of four and is active in the Steamboat community, where she serves on the board of directors for the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs. Taylor is married to longtime Steamboat resident and former professional figure skater Jeremiah Jackson.

Taylor has already assembled a top-notch crew, including Courtney Gill as Learn to Skate director, Jackson as jump and technical specialist and club coaches Stacy McAllister and Kelly Ascher. The club will also change its approach, allowing coaches to focus on their specific strengths to benefit athletes’ progress. She will also incorporate Becca Gray as youth development director and bring in Nicole Schulz as an adjunct instructor from time-to-time.

“I feel that this particular team coaching model, which is not often seen in smaller clubs, helps children and families in many ways. It allows skaters to benefit from the particular strengths of each coach, while reducing coaching fees, due, in part, to a high level of group practices,” Taylor said. 

In addition to standard coaching, skaters who commit to lessons twice per week will also receive youth development instruction.

“I want our skaters to become strong individuals, both on and off the ice," she said. "Figure skating is an individualized sport, but we want our team of athletes to support each other and grow to understand that success is measured in more than medals."

Older skaters will also be required to serve as mentors to younger ones, and the team will be required to complete a community service project each season.

The other big change is aimed at bringing more skaters into the fold of the Steamboat Skating Club — something that will be key to finding success. The past few years, the club's numbers have steadily declined, and despite a core group of 17 dedicated members, Taylor knows membership will drive what happens on the ice in the future.

The new Steamboat Skating Club Intro to Skating programming will mirror the successful Intro to Hockey program used by the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association. The first session of fall programming will be completely free, affording parents and children the opportunity to determine if the sport is a good fit. Sessions two and three will have a set fee, and participation in those sessions will allow skaters to perform in both the winter and spring ice shows, an honor formerly reserved for club skaters. 

Haggarty is optimistic the changes will help the club find new footing in the Steamboat sports landscape.

Registration for Intro to Figure Skating will open in August. Athletes interested in registering for any of the programs can get more information and a link to registration forms, when available, at steamboatskatingclub.org.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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