Juneau's skaters take the ice today

Figure skaters to seize the spotlight at Treadwell Arena

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007

Today proves Treadwell Arena in Douglas isn't just for hockey, as the town's figure skaters get their moment in the spotlight.

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The Juneau Skating Club hosts its second annual skills competition today. The skills competition starts at noon, followed by the figure skaters at 2 p.m.

"What's been interesting for us is the number of people in the basic skating has not only increased but they're competing at a higher subset of levels," JSC coach Elizabeth Calvert said. "There are eight levels in basic skating. Last year, we had one kid in basic seven and eight. This year, 10 of the 12 (participating) are in the top two levels, which is great."

Juneau Skating Club

Skills competition

Who: More than 20 skaters set to perform.

When: Basic skills at noon today, followed by figure skating at 2 p.m.

Where: Treadwell Arena.

How much? The competition is free.

Calvert estimated between 12 to 15 skaters will compete in the basic skills competition before 10 figure skaters take the ice. The skaters' ages range from 8 to 16 years old.

The Juneau Skating Club experienced considerable growth since Treadwell Arena opened four years ago.

The club averages 20 skaters on the ice at the same time during practices, which can be a bit crowded.

"In the last two weeks we've added a 6:15 a.m. practice on Tuesday," Calvert said. "The rink is so crowded and busy that that's the only time to add a practice. You can't ask 8-year-olds to come at midnight."

Today's competitions serve as an important stepping stone for Juneau's young skaters.

The basic skills competition allows skaters to progress in the United State Figure Skating skill set. A skater must be able to perform basic turns, jumps and techniques before being allowed to learn more advance moves.

The basic skills competition will feature skaters performing these basic moves without music in an effort to progress to a higher level.

If a skater moves through the eight-level basic skate system, then the athlete can progress to free skate.

The free skate program, which takes place at 2 p.m., features action more commonly seen on television. Skaters will perform a 90-second routine to music and will be judged on technical and artistic criteria.

They'll also be performing on the ice by themselves, which is a rarity at the busy rink.

"We were fortunate to be asked to have some skaters perform at last weekend's high school games at intermission," Calvert said. "So three of the girls have had one other practices. For the others, this is it. They don't often have the ice to themselves. ... They'll be excited and nervous to be the only ones."

There are six levels in the free skate division. After completing those, the skater moves on to the competitive track which goes as high as the Olympics.

Calvert said she may have three skaters earn their badges and qualify into the competitive track in a few weeks.

"It's huge," Calvert said. "We, the coaches, didn't have the badges for free skate five and six because we didn't think we'd need them, and then they pass. They've been moving so fast."

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