U.S. Figure Skating’s Senior Director of Athlete Development talks particulars, participation
By Mimi Whetstone
U.S. Figure Skating will host its first senior international competition, the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, in Salt Lake City, Sept.12-16. In conjunction with the senior events, U.S. Figure Skating’s Athlete Development Committee (ADC) will host the inaugural U.S. Challenge Skate, a developmental competition featuring athletes selected by the ADC to compete at the novice and junior levels.
With more than 58 participants already expected to compete, Kelly Vogtner, U.S. Figure Skating’s Senior Director of Athlete Development, took a moment to explain the details of this first-of-its-kind event:
What is U.S. Challenge Skate?
“U.S. Challenge Skate is an event we developed specifically for promising young athletes who are not officially named to Team USA. We want to provide an opportunity for athletes that have competed at the national level in intermediate, novice and junior to experience what an international competition is like. At the same time, they will have the opportunity to compete with other talented athletes from across the country.”
Who can compete at this event?
“Athletes were selected by the ADC, in cooperation with the International Committee, based on a set list of criteria. For the junior events, skaters who competed at the junior level at the 2012 U.S. Championships and had not been assigned a Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event as of August 1 were invited. Additionally, skaters who competed in the novice event at the 2012 U.S. Championships and recently moved up to the junior level were invited to participate.
For the novice events, we invited skaters who competed at the novice level at the 2012 U.S. Championships who are choosing to repeat the novice events in 2013. We also extended an invitation to athletes that placed in the top 18 at the intermediate level at the 2012 U.S. Junior Championships and are moving up to the novice level for the 2013 season.
For new partnerships in ice dancing and pairs, couples where at least one of the partners competed at the 2012 U.S. Championships at the respective level were eligible for an invitation.
Once the athletes were invited, entries were accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Our goal was to include everyone, but obviously, we are limited as to the number of skaters we can accommodate in a single event.”
Why first-come, first-served?
“This competition is new, so not a lot of people know what it is about. It’s going to be a great experience for those who choose to participate. We thought that the ones who wanted the experience the most would ultimately get the most out of it.”
What kind of experience can these athletes expect?
“Competitors at this event are going to experience everything they will eventually encounter at a JGP or other international competition on Team USA. They will be judged by an international panel, be given team jackets, receive their scores in a kiss-and-cry area and even participate in media training.”
Why hold the U.S. Ice Challenge and U.S. International Figure Skating Classic simultaneously?
“By holding U.S. Challenge Skate in conjunction with the Senior B event, we are increasing the international experience for the young, Team USA hopefuls. They will get to feel what it is like to compete among the world’s best at multiple levels. Their practice ice and competition schedule will be structured in the same manner and they will be judged by the same panels. Plus, all of the competitors will get to embrace the true Team USA spirit by cheering on their fellow teammates throughout the week.”
What are some of the other benefits of this unique event?
“In addition to simply being a competition, it will be a fun learning experience. Each discipline will have its own team leader and there will be a team atmosphere, with time set aside to watch the senior international events. Educational meetings, seminars and discussions will also be held for athletes and parents throughout the competition.”
Who are the team leaders going to be?
“The team leader for the men’s event is Ben Miller. Ben lives in the Minneapolis area and is the chair of the ADC, and a former international competitor in men’s singles.
The ladies will be led by Ann Barr. Ann lives in the Detroit metropolitan area and is chair of U.S. Figure Skating’s Singles Development Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the ADC. She is a national technical specialist, and has served on the panels of Regional, Sectional and U.S. Championships.
The team leader for the pairs event will be Amanda Evora. Amanda resides in Ellenton, Fla. and retired from competition last season. With partner Mark Ladwig, she represented the U.S. in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in addition to the 2010 and 2011 World Championships.
The ice dancers will be led by Pilar Bosley. Pilar lives in Maryland, and is the national vice-chair for dance on U.S. Figure Skating’s Athlete Advisory Committee. She is a former international competitor in dance with partner John Corona.
In addition to the team leaders, U.S. Figure Skating Headquarters Athlete Development Coordinator, Kelli Evers, will be on site to facilitate the program and provide assistance and support to team leaders, athletes, coaches and parents.”
Anything else we should know?
“We’re hoping that the debut of this event will advertise itself for the future. We have so many talented young skaters right now and we really want to give them a valuable experience.”