Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club lacing up for their annual holiday spectacular
Along with the sugarplums that are certainly dancing in your head with the arrival of cold weather and the holidays, it’s now the season for ice skating.
Lexington’s Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club is preparing for its annual Christmas show, titled “Holiday Classics on Ice,” at 1 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Lexington Ice Center.
Unlike previous years, which have centered around “The Nutcracker,” this year’s show will be more of a variety hour style, featuring familiar Christmas carols, according to club president Lynne Daviet.
Performers in the show are at various levels of the Lexington Ice Center’s Learn to Skate program, which is a standardized program that builds students’ skill sets. Some of them are competitive skaters, and others are recreational members of the club for whom this is their only opportunity to prepare and perform a program all year.
Although figure skating coach Ashley Pekrul says there’s a significant difference in polish from the professional athletes you might see skating on television, the audience should expect the rest to look similar. There will be jumps, although they will be doubles, rather than the triple-rotation movements you see in the Olympics. There will also be spins and ice dance footwork.
“To the untrained eye, you can’t really tell [the difference],” Pekrul said. “A lot of the spins are comparable to what you see on television. There will be a lot of spirals (in which skaters glide on one foot with the other leg stretched out behind or in front of them), big long extensions. Generally what’s showy about the skaters on television are the split jumps (in which the skater leaps into a mid-air split, touching the toes of their skates), and our skaters can do those.
“The only thing that makes our skaters different from the skaters on television, the only visible difference, is that they’re not going to look as composed, that kind of ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time,’ because they haven’t been.”
To prepare for the show, skaters will practice for three days a week for five weeks to learn their choreography. Some larger group numbers will start practice off the ice to work out how they will need to travel around each other, especially younger children. The goal of the show is to exhibit the skills skaters have already mastered for competition, and to give non-competitive skaters a chance to perform a musical program.
Costumes and scenery have been designed or purchased by the club over the years, and are modified by club members or parents as needed. In past years, the show has been more of an acting production and has included large pieces of scenery on the ice, but this year the club decided to focus more on the skating.
The show is great entertainment for children, and at $5 per ticket at the door, strives to be an affordable afternoon for a family. If you’re thinking about attending, Daviet recommends dressing warmly and bringing a blanket since the seating area in the rink is cold. There will also be a public free skate afterward, for those who want to try their hand (or foot) at the sport.
The Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club, which was formed in 1989, exists to foster the educational, competitive, recreational and social components of figure skating to its members, which include both children of all ages and adults.
“It’s an opportunity to be involved with national figure skating, like a passageway,” Pekrul said.
Though not officially affiliated with the Lexington Ice Center (which also operates the United Trust Company Ice Rink in Triangle park), the club holds its activities there in the fall and winter when the rink is open. Club members commute to the center from as far as one to two hours away, and competitive skaters traveled with Pekrul through this summer to find open rinks where they could prepare for regionals. Skaters may not enter the circuit’s local or regional competition without being members of a skating club.
Competitive skaters typically practice three times a week for an hour and a half at a time; national-level skaters will practice five days a week for two to three hours each day.
The Thoroughbred Figure Skating club is an affiliate of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, which is the national governing body for the sport, and is also part of the U.S. Olympic Committee. As part of their affiliation with a national group, the club has access to prominent guest speakers. Recent appearances include members of the “Disney on Ice” skaters, and coaching from an adult competitor who placed third in a national event.
The club has been striving to generate buzz in recent years, as the time commitment has become challenging for parents managing multiple schedules for soccer, baseball, dance, cheerleading and a host of other extra-curricular activities.
“The kids are now multi-tasking, like we all are,” Daviet noted.
The standard age for starting in the club is 5 years old, and there is no age limit. In fact, one of the members started skating in her 30s, and is now part of an adult synchronized skating team that competed at last year’s national competition.
“That’s what we have to promote in the Lexington area,” Daviet said. “So people know it’s not just for the little ones, it’s for the teenagers and adults … it’s a sport, but it’s also a community.”