Friday, 27 January 2017 16:24

Figure Skating: The Path to Gold

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lillian Bergbom, 11, of Maple Avenue Middle School, has been ice-skating for 5 years. On Saturday, Jan. 21, she passed her first free skate test and also leveled-up by passing an ice dancing test called the 14 Steps, passing at pre-silver level. “It was a little nerve-wracking,” she said. “I get very nervous the night before a test, but as soon as I get on the ice, and then halfway through the program, I get very relaxed and I usually come off the ice laughing.” Lillian was one of about 25 skaters who participated in Saturday’s skating test sessions hosted by Saratoga Springs Figure Skating Club at the Weibel Avenue Ice Rink. Lillian’s father, Bart Bergbom, is a parent volunteer and treasurer of the skating club. He explained that the testing is similar to earning a black belt in karate. Skaters must achieve certain levels before they can compete with peers at that level. “The tests are all pass or retry,” said Bergbom. “All are shooting for gold medal status. There are four different disciplines to do that in, so you can become a double gold medalist or go up to quadruple. Skaters find the field they are most comfortable with and stay focused there, but some know right off the bat they want to be quads. There’s no requirement; it’s all self-imposed.” According to “All About U.S. Figure Skating Tests” provided by U.S. Figure Skating, the test structure is the “backbone of U.S. Figure Skating.” It is the national standard by which all skaters are measured on their path to become a gold medalist nationally, and even on to the Olympics. “We have had a handful of girls make the U.S. Synchronized Skating Team,” said Bergbom. “We’ve had people qualify and compete on national levels, and one of our dance coaches went up through the ranks to compete at national levels as part of a pair.” Bergbom said usually the testing group is much larger than 25, but that it is currently the peak of the competition season, and most kids are working on their routines right now and focusing on the upcoming Empire State Games in Lake Placid. “I compete in free style and synchronized skating, on a skating team,” said Lillian. “It’s hard at first, but once you figure out how to lean your foot and keep them narrow and parallel, then you don’t have to think about it. You can put on music and just go for it and see what happens. I just started using music from the movie La La Land – well, it was good music!” Lillian said she really appreciates the encouragement that comes from her friends and coaches. “You’ll try something by yourself and you think you just can’t do it, and they help you and you try it again and do it perfect – it makes you feel accomplished.” For more information about skating competitions or lessons, visit saratogalearntoskate.com.
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Norra Reyes

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