Competition features youths with local ties
Oct. 15, 2009
By Greg Elias
Local figure skaters will compete in regional competition next week that could spin them onto the national stage.
Williston figure skater Emily Young, 18, will compete next week in the New England Regional Figure Skating Championships at Burlington's Leddy Park Arena.
Emily Young of Williston and Rachel Hollander of Charlotte will be among about 250 skaters participating in the New England Regional Figure Skating Championships to be held Oct. 21-25 at Leddy Park Arena in Burlington.
Young, 18, will compete in the top division, senior ladies. She said she looks forward to performing in front of a home crowd.
“I’m so thrilled,” Young said. “I never expected the regionals to be in Vermont. Now my entire family can come and watch me skate.”
Young grew up in Williston but is currently living and training in the Boston area. Her parents, Todd and Elizabeth, and younger sister, Andrea, still live here.
Young won the novice division in the regionals two years ago, then placed fourth in the sectionals and qualified for the national championship, where she finished eighth in the free skate.
She struggled with injuries the following year, including a stress fracture. But Young said she has done well in 2009, including winning a Dallas competition.
Vicki Hildebrand, a Williston resident who chairs the local committee organizing the regional competition, said Young is a “top prospect.”
“Emily is a very graceful skater,” Hildebrand said. “She’s very elegant and has beautiful lines.”
Young started skating when she was 7. She said she practices three to four hours a day, plus spends at least an hour on strength training.
Starting in her sophomore year, Young traveled around the country to work with top coaches and compete against the best skaters. She first moved to Chicago with her mother, then went to boarding school in Minnesota before going to Boston.
Elizabeth Young said the moves were also made because her daughter wanted to attend school with other students rather than be home-schooled, the route taken by many competitive skaters.
Emily Young acknowledged that this season, which culminates with the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Jan. 15-24 and the Olympics the following month, could be her final chance to compete on a full-time basis. She has graduated high school and plans to attend college next year.
Young must be among the top qualifiers at next week’s event, then produce similar results at a sectional competition to make it to the national tournament. Top finishers in the senior division earn a chance to be selected for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Young downplayed her chances of making the team.
“I’d just like to put out a really strong performance and go to the sectionals,” she said.
Hollander, 12, has been skating for four years, said her mother, Kim Dow. Competing in the juvenile girls division, it will be her daughter’s first sanctioned event.
“She’s really excited,” Dow said. “She feels really lucky for her first competition to be on home ice.”
Hollander is a seventh-grader at Charlotte Central School. She practices about 16 hours a week, her mother said, both locally with the Champlain Valley Skating Club and in Lake Placid.
Dow said her daughter’s goal is to make it to the final round of the regional, placing in the top 12. Of three-dozen skaters in her division, only the top four qualify for the national junior championships.
The Champlain Valley Skating Club is hosting the regional competition, which is being held in Vermont for the first time in many years. Hildebrand said more populous areas in New England tend to have an edge on hosting tournaments because of their proximity to judges and skating officials.
“It’s a big deal for us to have it because we’re really pretty remote,” she said.
Tickets for the New England Regional Figure Skating Championships — $5 per person per day or $20 for the entire competition — are available by calling Leddy Park Arena at 865-7558. For more information, visit www.champlainvalleyskatingclub.org.