Rhode Island figure skaters claim national championship


When Sarah Mirza recently took her Ocean State Ice Theatre figure skating team to Cleveland, Ohio to compete in the 2012 National Theatre on Ice competition, she knew that her team had a chance.

But she also knew that everything had to come together perfectly.

“I thought that they had a chance,” Mirza said. “I knew that they would have to skate really well. I know that they’re a great group of skaters individually. They’re all very talented. When you put them together and they skate their best, they’re very good.”

Mirza was right – and it did come together perfectly.

Ocean State came in first in both the short and long programs to capture the open level national title, their second in the last three years. Ocean State also won the title in 2010.

“They were thrilled,” Mirza said. “They were really rexcited. As soon as we got to nationals they just put forth their best effort and went out there and just wowed us.”

Ocean State is a competitive figure skating team based out of Blackstone Valley Sports Center in Pawtucket. It features girls from all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Warwick’s Katarina Hanely, who is in her first year with the team. One of the team’s coaches – Laura Tashjian – is also from Warwick.

Hanley has embraced being on the team.

“She loves it,” Mirza said. “She really loves it.”

There are 15 total girls on the team, and the idea is that they make a theater type production on the ice, bringing together figure skating and creative theater.

The team has been together for five years, and it has built up a track record of success.

To go with this year’s national championship and the one in 2010, Ocean State also won a competition at the North Shore in Mass. in June.

The ages on the team range from eight years old to 17, and every girl competes.

“It really is a full team effort,” Mirza said. “You really do need the kids of all levels. We have the little ones who are eight years old who are really cute and they have that aspect. And then you have the skaters who are older and more experienced. That really is what makes it great.”

The short program is worth one-third of the total score, while the long program is worth two-thirds.

In the short program, a theme is provided and the team has to create a routine based around that theme.

This year’s theme was “conflict,” and Ocean State elected to build its routine around bullying, which has been a highly-talked about issue as of late.

“It’s such a hot topic right now in schools and the media,” Mirza said. “We did a program where one skater was bullied the whole time. It showed her being picked on and excluded. It had a good message.”

In the long program, which is known as the free skate, the team’s task was to tell a whole story in five and-a-half minutes. Teams made, essentially, mini Disney On Ice productions and performed them.

Ocean State built its program around Red Riding Hood. It used songs from the movie that came out in theaters last year, and it featured props and costumes and backdrops.

Obviously it came out well, because it netted Ocean State a first-place finish.

“The girls just skated really, really well,” Mirza said.

The competition featured 37 total teams, but Ocean State was the one that came out on top when it was all said and done.

Some of those teams feature adult competitors as well, but Ocean State used only girls 17-and-under.

“It was certainly a challenge for me and my assistant coach,” Mirza said.

Next up for Ocean State is a summer camp in August, which will be running Pawtucket at Dennis Lynch Arena from Aug. 6-10.

Then there are tryouts in September as Ocean State will prepare for the upcoming season.

For more information, find them online at www.oceanstateicetheatre.com or on Facebook.


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