When I received an e-mail from the boss telling me about a skater who had won something or other at a national competition I thought, "That's entertainment." But after receiving the rundown from the skater's mom, I have a new respect for the SPORT of figure skating.
Nine-year-old Stephanie Wagner of Tempe, placed first in the preliminary light division of the United States Figure Skating Association's National Showcase, Aug. 3-6 in Oak Lawn, Ill. She was the only Arizona skater to win in the final rounds. Wagner also competed in two other events: preliminary dramatic and preliminary extemporaneous.
"In a normal competition she will perform three times in three days," her mother Jennifer Wagner said. "Here, she had to perform six times in three days with a lot more kids."
Stephanie skated to a program that was set to the music from Seussical the Musical, "Cat in the Hat," for her light program, which featured 46 skaters divided into three groups.
In the extemporaneous division there were 21 performers in two groups. She placed fourth in her group to advance to the finals and eventually finished eighth overall. She also competed in the dramatic competition (30 girls two groups finishing 10th).
As the winner in her division, Stephanie again performed her "Cat in the Hat" routine in the Parade of Champions to cap off the showcase.
"This is a huge competition and a major accomplishment," Jennifer Wagner said. "Stephanie is very dedicated to her sport, she works very hard and really loves it."
A fourth grader at Ward Traditional Academy in Tempe, Stephanie is a member of the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona, skates at Oceanside Ice Arena and is coached by Holly Harrington.
Stephanie has been taking private lessons for three years and skates an average of 8 to 12 hours a week during the school year. To qualify for the showcase Stephanie had to pass tests and was required to have competed and placed in the top four in an artistic or showcase competition the preceding calendar year at the preliminary level or higher.
Snow Plow Sam, basic 1-8, freeskate 1-6, no-test, pre-preliminary, preliminary, pre-juvenile, juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior and senior (Olympic skaters) are the USFSA's skating levels.
The Chandler-based Arizona Cheetahs track club closed out a very successful 2006 season at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Baltimore, Md., with several outstanding performances last month.
As well as winning a gold medal and breaking a national record in the javelin throw, placing second in the discus and third in the shot put, Mesa Rhodes Junior High student Hannah Carson was part of a girls 400-meter relay team that placed eighth.
Bryanna Smythe (Chandler High School), Chinequa Lee (Chandler High) and Alexis Clay (Chandler's Willis Junior High) ran with Carson.
Chandler High athletes Bryce Lamb (first in the triple jump) and Larissa Matthews (second 100 hurdles) earned medals while schoolmate Dion Jordan (110 hurdles) and Gilbert Highland High School's Cassie DeSalvo (steeplechase) both finished eighth in their respective events.
And not to be outdone by their older teammates, the bantam girls (8 and under) team of Tope Williams, Takerra Waters, Imani Adams and India Broom took 10th in the 400 relay.
Along with the 11 top-10 finishes, the Cheetahs had 14 other athletes place in the top 20 at the national meet, which featured more than 6,000 athletes with approximately 30-40 competitors in each event.