Juneau skaters ready for the show

Juneau Skating Club presents 'A Sunday Matinee' recital

Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2006

On Sunday afternoon, fans can enjoy a night at the movies at Treadwell Arena.

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The Juneau Skating Club is holding its third spring recital, "A Sunday Matinee," at 3 p.m. Saturday. The motion-picture-themed recital brings the skating season to a close.

"The kids get more and more excited," JSC coach Elizabeth Calvert said. "The more we do recitals, the more they start to learn what to expect. That keeps them going. It takes a lot of work to put it together but it's worth it because they just love it."

The recital will feature 16 different numbers from skaters of all ages and skill levels. There will also be six soloists. The solo performers are the champions from the Juneau Skating Club's first-ever competition.

Since opening the program three years ago, the club has experienced significant growth.

The club taught about 400 different skaters this year everything from staying upright on skates to how to perform a Salchow.

"They're progressing really quickly," JSC coach Beth Rhoden said of her younger athletes. "We have kids that started with us back when the rink opened that are some of our soloists this year. They're progressing like crazy."

Juneau Skating Club teaches complete novices how to skate and figure skate and holds power and conditioning classes for hockey players.

For skaters aspiring to become the next Sasha Cohen or Michelle Kwan, however, instructors take skaters through a highly-organized system of lessons and tests designed by the United States Figure Skating Association.

Skaters go through eight tests which judge basic skating skills. After completing lessons one through eight, skaters then start going through the battery of figure skating tests.

"Then they go into freestyle skating and more of the choreography and jumps," Rhoden said. "Basically one through eight is the foundation. They're learning the fundamentals of what's going to happen in freestyle."

With the club completing its third year, the JSC boasts a crew of figure skaters who have finished basic training and are ready to compete.

JSC held its first skills competition last February, allowing skaters a chance to perform in front of judges.

"It's fun to be challenged and succeeding and moving up," said 14-year-old Kayla Bishop, who won the competition. "The recitals are fun and we had our first competition this year, which was really cool. We're looking forward to having more and maybe going places."

While the JSC is starting to dip its toes into the competition pool, the coaches want to stress the fun and enjoyment of skating.

Figure skating, particularly at its highest level, can be among the most stressful of sports.

"This year, we focused on it being fun," Calvert said. "So many clubs get out of hand with it being competitive. We did have a competition this year and we focused, even though they competed against each other, on making it fun and they handled it great."

Though there won't be any judges at Sunday's recital, the event represents a big moment for the skaters.

It's a chance for them to show their stuff to the audience. Basic skaters practiced an hour a week while the figure skaters went to Treadwell Arena three to four days a week for an hour-long session.

"It shows everyone what we've been doing and how much better we've gotten," Bishop said. "It's something fun to show the community."

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com

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