September 24, 2014
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Skaters sharpen skills for regional competition
Submitted photos by Karen Hogan
READY TO SKATE: Hailey Weijland, 15, a sophomore at Toll Gate, is looking forward to the competition. She said skating is "a way for me to be who I am."

Eight skaters from Warwick Figure Skaters (WFS) will be in Newington, Conn. this weekend to compete in the 2014 New England Regional Figure Skating Championships, an event that’s sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. They are vying for spots to continue on to the U.S. Figure Skating Eastern Sectional Championships.

One male skater, along with seven female skaters, will be competing individually at various levels, including juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, and senior. The skaters have the potential to continue on to the national competition.

“They pick parts of the Olympic team from Nationals,” said Beth Flanders, president of WFS. “Our skaters work very hard and are so dedicated to their sport. They put so much time and effort into practicing and it’s a fantastic opportunity for them. It’s a great accomplishment for these kids. I’m very proud of them, and I know our club is very proud of them, too.”

Each skater has his or her own professional coach. They will all compete at their respective levels.

Hailey Weijland, 15, and Taylor Spinard, 15, two Warwick residents, are feeling excited and nervous.

“It’s my first time competing,” said Hailey, a sophomore at Toll Gate High School in the Intermediate Level. “I just moved up to this division, so it’s a big step but I’m excited to go for the challenge.”

To prepare for the event, Hailey has been practicing but also getting plenty of rest. She’s taking off-ice classes, or physical training, to help her stay fit and healthy.

Hailey will be skating to music from “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a 2012 American fantasy and action film based on the German fairy tale “Snow White” compiled by the Brothers Grimm.

“My program has a lot of double jumps that I’ve been trying to perfect,” she said.

Taylor, who is set to compete in the Novice Level, will be skating to a version of “A Thousand Years” by singer-songwriter Christina Perri, a program that also includes double jumps, along with combination and solo spins, a footwork sequence, and more. This isn’t her first time participating in the event.

“I know what to expect now, but I’m still a little nervous,” Taylor said.

Taylor, a junior at Toll Gate, has been preparing for the competition for a few months. She has been practicing and fine-tuning it to make it as perfect as possible.

While Taylor said she has been figure skating since she was 3 or 4, Hailey began when she was 6. Both girls have been WFS members the entirety of their skating experience.

“It’s a very nice environment to learn skating,” said Hailey. “It’s made me better. It’s a fantastic club. I love it there.”

Hailey also loves figure skating.

“It’s a way for me to be who I am,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter what I wear; it’s about what I can do and the way I perform.”

To celebrate Hailey, Taylor and the other skaters, WFS held a sendoff party at Thayer Arena on Oct. 5.

“We had each skater skate their program,” Flanders said. “After that, we had snacks and that sort of stuff. All the parents were taking pictures.”

Last year, said Flanders, WFS sent four students to this particular competition.

“I’ve been with Warwick Figure Skaters for nine years, and this is the largest amount that I’ve seen,” she said.

Aside from Hailey and Taylor, skaters include Alizee Ballarin of Warwick; Abigale Reynolds and Anoush Calikyan, both of East Greenwich; Caroline Ferguson of Jamestown; Kayla McCarthy of Ashway; and Daniel Kuyoth of Coventry. While Emma Rademacher, of Warwick, qualified for the competition, she is unable to compete due to an injury.

Learn more about WFS, a non-profit organization that serves skaters, parents and skating-lovers from age 3 through adult, at www.warwickfs.org.


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