Diamonds and Ice


Big skating competition coming to C.R.

Cedar Rapids will be the site of the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s 2010 Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships. The event will be Jan. 28-30, 2010 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Here’s the story:

CEDAR RAPIDS — Zach Huggins is a man among … women.
The 10-year-old from Cedar Rapids is the only member of the Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club’s synchronized skating program who isn’t female. Not that it bothers him.

“I’ve been skating for three years,” Huggins said, sheepishly. “I was skating alone, but I wanted to be a part of a team. It’s OK. (The girls treat) me good.”

Huggins was one of seven EIFSC synchronized skaters to put on a short performance following Tuesday’s announcement that Cedar Rapids will host the United States Figure Skating Association’s 2010 Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships. The sectional encompasses 37 states and will be held Jan. 28-30 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

“Were it not for a facility like the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, an event like this would not be coming to our city,” said Mary Lee Malmberg, the director of sports tourism for the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Synchronized skating involves eight to 20 participants per team. Each team’s program is judged the same way as singles and pairs skating.

According to the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s Web site, there are 15 levels of synchronized skating separated mostly by age and ability — from Beginner 1 to Adult. The Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club has 19 participants in its program, all at the Beginner or Pre-Juvenile levels.

“It is the fastest growing discipline of figure skating there is,” said EIFSC President Tammie Hoover. “The number of clubs in the United States that offer it just keeps growing.”

Hoover said the EIFSC has offered synchronized skating for six years, with members this year ranging in age from third grade to senior in high school. That includes sisters Kelsey and DaLynn Pokorny, who were part of Tuesday’s demonstration.

“At first it was kind of hard to learn,” said Kelsey Pokorny, 12. DaLynn is 6. “But then it gets easier as you go along.”

“As parents, we enjoy the travel and the camaraderie between the team members and parents,” said Mike Pokorny, the girls’ father.

Mike Pokorny said his girls practice twice a week for an hour at a time. Most competitions are out of state, primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

That makes Cedar Rapids hosting the 2010 sectional event that much more important, Hoover said. Approximately 120 to 160 teams, ages 6-24, will compete in the event, with a total of around 2,400 skaters.

Top team sectional finishers will qualify for the 2010 United States Synchronized Championships in Minneapolis. Hoover hopes one of those qualifying teams will come from the Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club.

“We hope to get a quality team set up,” she said. “We hope the more the community sees (synchronized skating), the more it will grow here. This is a team sport like T-ball and soccer.”

Here is a link to the U.S. Figure Skating website.

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