Skaters of all ages steal show in San Jose

Skatetown takes World Championship team title
By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
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For a few days this month, the ice at the San Jose Arena replaced the brutal game of Sharks’ hockey with the sparkle and glitter of international figure skating. Skatetown Ice Arena’s skaters won the 2009 ISI Recreational World Team Championships in San Jose, July 27 – Aug. 1. Skaters (1,276 of them) from 64 teams were poised on ice normally reserved for body checks and brawls. Skatetown took 150 athletes, ranging from age two to 69 tested at every level of competition. They earned over 400 individual medals while breaking the all-time team points record. Those 1717.50 points awarded sat Skatetown on the throne of the world stage. “The most memorable part was the whole concept of being together,” said coach Elizabeth Sands. “Because figure skating is thought of as such an individualized sport. It wasn’t just one event that was memorable, but that we represented the true feelings of what it means to be a team by winning together.” Nine skaters were honored to skate in the annual ISI Education Foundation Benefit Show held at the conclusion of the event. The benefit featured guest soloist, 2008 US National Champion and Olympic contender, Mirai Nagasu. Standout performances included Kate Barnett, Valerie Van derLinden, Hannah Mullenix, Kiara Danovaro, Jessica Wernke, Anicia Borerro, Haylie Ferriera and McKenna Tooker. They competed in a variety of competitions including technical, artistic, spotlight, ensemble and synchronized events. The toothless smiles of hockey players were easily replaced by the brightest glint of Skatetown’s talent. Ali Kaye Zimmer performed at the highest level as Skatetown’s only Freestyle 10 participant. Her platinum dramatic program was one of the performances selected. Bella Martinez's Freestyle 9 Rhythmic Hoop program and the Spice Girls Ensemble Spotlight program were also selected. Skatetown had the youngest and oldest ISI competitors in the world. The youngest was two-year-old Megan Sands, daughter of Coach Sands. Shuffling across the ice in a miniature skating outfit, Megan represents the unique opportunity to compete. Her mother (and coach) was impressed at the collective success of the entire team as represented by her daughter’s participation. “Megan is a beginning skater,” said Sands. “Her marching across the ice in this ISI event allows every age and ability to have fun and participate. It was wonderful.” ISI Skaters came across the Pacific from China, Taiwan and the Philippines to compete against teams like Skatetown, but none were more impressive than Jimmy White of Roseville. At 69, White completes the other end of the spectrum as the oldest competitor in ISI World Team competition. ISI sponsors the annual competition each summer. Prior to this year, Skatetown has not been as successful as a team. At the Boston competition in 2006 the team was comprised of only 60 skaters able to make the trip across country. Skating Director Carrie Clarke returned to Skatetown only a year ago from a position as ISI International Skating Director. The coaching at Skatetown has the job of turning tons of local talent into international regard. There are over a dozen coaches involved in the success of world competition and Clarke acknowledges that without them none of program’s success would be possible. “Skatetown is known for being the loudest and most enthusiastic group in competition,” Clarke said. “We definitely made our presence known. “You can usually hear us coming from a block away. They carried that over for their teammates all week long. It brought everyone together in a very positive way.” Next up for Skatetown is an encore Worlds Victory Ice Show on Saturday, August 22. The performance is free to the public and will showcase events that carried them to world team success.