“It’s become a part of me”: Snowmass teens talk about love for, dedication to figure skating
As snow flurried around Snowmass on Dec. 14 and the mountain’s lifts began winding down, a group of Aspen-Snowmass figure skaters started warming up.
It was just before 5 p.m. when the young teens began gliding across The Rink in Snowmass Base Village, sporting holiday sweaters and sequined leotards, preparing to perform for dozens of locals and visitors.
“It’s fun to perform when all of the skiers are coming off the mountain and they stop, look and are amazed at what we can do,” said Audrey Solberg, 13, a Snowmass skater with the Revolutions Skating Club in Aspen.
“It’s unique,” added Quynh Solberg, 13, Audrey’s sister. “Not a lot of people do it, and it’s very different from normal sports.”
For about 45 minutes that night, Base Village spectators cheered on the Aspen-Snowmass skaters, and two professionals, as they performed as soloists or in groups during the Snowmassive Celebration.
The Solberg sisters performed a roughly two-minute duet to a Mary Poppins tune, and a host of other young skaters showed off their skills over similar bursts of time to holiday songs like “Where Are You Christmas?” and “Carol of the Bells.”
But while a handful of skaters said they enjoyed the holiday performance, they also acknowledged that it was just a glimpse of what they do daily on ice.
“It’s become a part of me because I’ve been doing it so long,” Quynh said, noting she and her sister started figure skating at 4 years old. “It’s shown me I’m a lot stronger than I think I am and has made me a more independent person.”
About an hour before the Dec. 14 skating show, the Solberg sisters and two Snowmass skaters with the Aspen Skating Club, Corrie Buchanan, 14, and Savannah Kallas, 14, talked about what the artistic yet extremely competitive sport means to them.
All four Snowmass teens said it’s a lot harder than you think, but that the work and dedication they’ve put in so far has resulted in a deep love for figure skating.
“It’s a competitive sport and I’m a really competitive person so I enjoy it, but it’s also a way to express your feelings,” Kallas said. “Some days it can be really stress-relieving, especially after a long day of school. You can just get on the ice and let it all go.”
Both Kallas and Buchanan said they spend a few hours every day on the ice, practicing their footwork, turns and jumps, and also take dance classes to supplement their skating.
But while a lot of time is spent on perfecting each skill, or move on ice, the young skaters said the artistic side of skating comes with choreographing each performance to music they can relate to.
“When you pick your music you have to feel something to skate with it well,” Kallas explained.
Simply put by Teri Hooper, longtime coach and a former high-level skater herself, you don’t get far in figure skating unless you work hard.
It’s a year-round sport that requires an unwavering work ethic, Hooper said, and is both individual- and team-driven.
As a coach with the Aspen Skating Club, Hooper said she hopes her skaters, ranging from age 2 to 70, develop strong time management skills, dedication and self-confidence.
“It’s very rewarding to watch the skaters learn, develop and to share the influence skating has had on me and my life,” Hooper said.
And skating has already had a great influence on the young Snowmass skaters’ lives, too. Moving forward, the Solberg sisters said they aren’t sure where skating will take them, and both Kallas and Buchanan have their sights on performing with Disney on Ice, or maybe even in the Olympics.
All four skaters agreed that they hope to compete and perform on ice for as long as possible.
“I fell in love with skating and it’s just something I want to keep doing for as long as I can,” Buchanan said. “When you first try it, it’s really hard, but if you keep working at it, it’s a lot of fun and you might just fall in love like we did.”
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