The Runestone Community Center in Alexandria was home to the Battle of the Blades figure skating competition this past Saturday as 101 skaters took part in the nearly all-day event.
Twenty of those kids were from the Alexandria Figure Skating Club, which hosted the final competition for those who took part in the five-stop Central Minnesota Series this winter season. About half of the 20 who competed in Alexandria skated in the whole competitive series that made stops in different cities around the region.
"I think our skaters worked really hard all season long," Alexandria Figure Skating Club coach Tessa Dutcher said. "Some of them just skate at the Battle of the Blades and some of them do the whole series, so this is the fifth competition. Overall, I think our skaters did very well. They've been working hard and sometimes there's tough competition out there. I think everyone was really satisfied with how they did on Saturday."
The Snowplow Sam category that kids can compete in at an event like the Battle of the Blades features those as young as 3-5 years old.
The Alexandria Figure Skating Club is for kids of almost all ages, from those 3-year-olds to seniors in high school. How seriously they want to take things and how far they want to go into the club depends on the athlete.
"Snowplow Sam level starts at 3, and that is geared to get them familiar with the ice," Dutcher said. "Then they get put into our regular learn-to-skate structure, which starts with Basic 1. That goes through Free Skate 6. Then there is some overlap with the next level, which starts at pre-preliminary to preliminary to junior and up the line through senior."
For those upper-level skaters, there are opportunities to prepare for official US Figure Skating Test sessions. These tests form the structure for athletes who eventually compete in qualifying events that lead to US Nationals and the Olympics.
For the lower level skaters, the Battle of the Blades is the culmination of the competitive season for many, and quite a few took home top honors in different categories.
Aili Schultz had five first-place finishes in categories of compulsory, series compulsory, free skate, series free skate and interpretive at her Excel Pre-Preliminary level.
Elsa Fosso (Snowplow Sam) had a total of four first-place finishes. Paisley Olson did the same at the Basic 4 level.
No matter the outcome of the competition, events like Saturday's in Alexandria provide the kids with a chance to see their progress after working throughout the season.
"A lot of it is just having a goal with their skating," Dutcher said. "If you have a goal where you can put a routine together to music and have fun out there on the ice, that's really what the competition series is all about. It's supposed to be a really non-threatening level for the skaters, just to get a feel for it."
BATTLE OF THE BLADES - AFSC RESULTS (C = Compulsory; SC = Series Compulsory; F = Free Skate; SF = Series Free Skate; I = Interpretive) - Elsa Fosso, Snowplow Sam: C 1st, SC 1st, F 1st, SF 1st; Emily Archer, Basic 4: F 5th; Kilee Arvidson, Basic 4: C 4th, SC 2nd, F 1st; SF 3rd, I 1st; Zoey Garin, Basic 4: F 1st; Emily Larson, Basic 4: F 4th; Paisley Olson, Basic 4: C 1st, SC 1st, F 1st, SF 1st, I 4th; Emma Fosso, Basic 5: C 2nd, SC 1st, F 3rd, SF 1st, I 5th; Makena Sayre, Basic 5: C 4th, F 6th; Daisy Whipkey, Basic 5: F 4th; Alivia Arvidson, Basic 6: C 1st, SC 2nd, F 1st, SF 2nd, I 2nd; Ava Malvin, Basic 6: F 1st; Abbigail Johannes, Pre Freeskate: C 6th, CS 6th, F 3rd, FS 8th; Autumn Pazdernik, Pre Freeskate: F 2nd; Breahanna Osborne, Freeskate 2: C 3rd, F 4th; MaCee Linow, Freeskate 3: C 3rd, F 3rd; Grace Reinke, Freeskate 3: C 2nd, F 1st; Katelyn Henning, Excel Beginner: C 3rd, F 3rd, I 3rd; Abigail Nelson, Excel High Beginner: F 1st, FS 1st; Aili Schultz, Excel Pre-Preliminary: C 1st, CS 1st, F 1st, FS 1st, I 1st; Jaycie Coleman, Excel Preliminary: C 2nd, CS 1st, F 2nd, FS 1st, I 2nd
FERGUS FALLS COMPETE USA COMPETITION RESULTS (From March 8-9)
Alexandria skaters - Elsa Fosso - Snowplow Sam: Compulsories 1st, Free Skate 1st, Interpretive 2nd; Emma Fosso - Basic 5: Compulsories 1st, Free Skate 1st, Interpretive 2nd; Grace Reinke - Freeskate 3: Compulsories 4th, Free Skate 2nd; Abigail Nelson - Excel High Beginner: Free Skate 2nd; Aili Schultz - Excel Pre-Preliminary: Free Skate 3rd; Jaycie Coleman - Excel Preliminary: Compulsories 2nd, Free Skate 4th