A year's worth of hard work and training culminates next weekend for the Alpena Figure Skating Club, when about 60 members take to the ice March 14-15 for the club's annual ice show. With a theme of Red, Ice and Blue, skaters ranging in age from 4 to 18 will showcase their artistry and skills to a variety of patriotic songs.
"It's their one chance to show off what they've been learning for the year," said Club President Dawn Skerski. "Most of the songs reflect the patriotic theme, and then we tried to match the costumes to the songs as best we could."
In existence for more than 80 years, the club counts on its coaches and volunteers to pull the show together. Fulltime coach Mary Ellen Hansford has been with the club for the past nine years and choreographed many of the selections in this year's show.
Top Left: Five Alpena Figure Skating Club seniors will perform to “The National Anthem.” They include, in the back row, Phoebe Wojciechowski, Lizzie LaFave, Miranda Schalk and Taylor Konczak. Pictured in the front is Elizabeth Skerski.
Joining Hansford on the ice as a professional coach is Patrick Stonehouse, who coached in Alpena for several years before leaving to coach other clubs. He coached in China from 2010 to 2013, and just recently returned to the area.
The club also benefits from the help of assistant coach Megan Plowman, who came up through the Alpena Figure Skating program and recently obtained her Professional Skaters Association membership.
Key volunteers include Stacy Dawson and Staci LeBlanc, who have given many hours of time in teaching the Basic 1 skaters. They have more than 24 years of combined experience teaching on the ice. Another long-time adult volunteer is Cece Bullen, who has taught basic skills for more than 20 years.
Three student volunteers also work with the Basic 1 and Basic 2 skaters. They are Chelsea Smigelski, Elizabeth Skerski and Phoebe Wojciechowski.
"All the volunteers are so important because we have multiple groups on the ice at the same time as the paid coaches," Skerski said. "The paid coaches can't get to every group all at once, so we need volunteer coaches to keep the skaters focused."
Five senior skaters will be performing for the last time as members of the club. Taylor Konczak and Lizzie LaFave will perform a duet. Elizabeth Skerski, Phoebe Wojciechowski and Miranda Schalk will each do a solo number on the ice.
The show is considered the club's largest annual fundraiser and provides money to make participating in the club more affordable for members. Besides proceeds generated through ticket sales, carnations and flowers will be sold at the show. There also will be a Chinese raffle of 25 themed gift baskets. Another cash raffle will be conducted, with three featured prizes of a flat screen television, a grill or a year's worth of oil changes.
The 2014 Alpena Figure Skating Club Ice Show will take place March 14 at 7 p.m. and March 15 at 1 and 7 p.m. at Northern Lights Arena.
Tickets for adults are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. The tickets for students are $4 in advance or $5 at the door. Tickets are available at Perch's IGA, Northern Lights Arena, from any club member or at the door.