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Skating is a whole new world for adults

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkKen Miller was the oldest competitor in last weekends 2004 Ice Skating Institute Adult Skating Championships. The 76-year-old began competing at age 60. This weekend, he won his 50th gold medal in skating competitions.
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BRECKENRIDGE -ne A couple of decades ago, the term “skating moms” was a misnomer because they didn’t skate – they simply sat around and watched their kids practice jumps and spins.But the new millennium has put a new spin on the term “skating moms,” and last weekend’s ISI Ice Skating Institute Adult Skating Championships – held at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge – proved it.More than 150 adults from 16 states competed in freestyle, artistic, spotlight and synchronized events Saturday and Sunday. Competitors ranged in age from 24-76. Costumes ranged from a human-size, stuffed teapot from “Beauty and the Beast” to longer skirts that flowed to the knees and shorter, red-sequined skirts complete with a slit on the side.The sport of retirementFort Collins resident Ken Miller was the oldest competitor. The 76-year-old man began competing at age 60, and since then, he has skated in more than 100 competitive events. This weekend, he won his 50th gold medal.”I’m a competitor,” Miller said. “I’ve kind of lost my other competitors to old age, but I enjoy the competition. Regardless of what level you’re at, it’s a challenge. I’m always trying to improve. It keeps you going.”

Miller began taking figure skating lessons after he retired at age 58. He could do every single-rotation jump until two years ago when he had knee surgery, but lately, he has worked up to landing about half of his single jumps and plans to get all of them back.About 10 years ago, he talked his daughter, Susan Geiser (now 44), into competing in a couples event with him.”It keeps me young,” Miller said. “I’ve got to keep up with her.””It used to be that I had to keep up with him,” Geiser said, laughing.Making up for time lost in childhoodSchubert Huang, the youngest competitor, stood out with his artistic flair. While some adults occasionally look timid on the ice, Huang skated to the center of the ice like a champion – body tall, arms above his head. His artistic presentation – complete with huge smiles – made up for any technical imperfections in his single jumps.Huang’s mother flew in from Taiwan to watch her son compete, and her pride showed as she videoed his every move.

Huang grew up in Taiwan, where ice rinks are a rarity. He first skated three years ago after moving to Houston. “I’m skating my heart out,” Huang said. “It’s a passion. I’ve always loved to be on stage; I used to sing opera in recitals. Skating is a way to release energy. If you have any worries and you get on the ice, you forget any worries because you’re totally focused on skating.”This is the most exciting competition (out of 10) that I’ve ever been in. We get the support from all the adult skaters. We all started late, so we all know how hard it is. Even though we’re adults, the programs are very creative and inspiring. I admire all the of the people here. A lot of them are retired – and they are skating in this elevation.”Rising above elevation challengesSome skaters suffered from headaches, upset stomachs and nosebleeds, said Susan Coates, a judge and coach from Baton Rouge, La. Others had more severe problems, including team members from Tampa Bay, Fla., said Sharon Cook.Skating director Tom Cierniak addressed the elevation problem by talking to more than 100 of the competitors before the competition and making sure medical staff was on hand with oxygen during the event.



A whole new worldDespite the elevation, the ice arena buzzed with excitement and encouragement all weekend.”They have such an incredible attitude,” said Karla Trippe, a Summit Figure Skating Club volunteer. “They’re out there cheering for each other. I wish younger kids could see the way they support and promote each other.”Some skaters, like Susan Evans from Sarasota, Fla., had plenty to celebrate. She rejoiced in her freedom from breast cancer after a year of chemotherapy and surgeries by skating to “Celebrate Good Times.” Even the judges joined the audience in clapping with the music.A couple of hours later, her husband, Bob Evans, joined her on the ice for a character routine. Dressed as Jasmine and Aladdin, they skated to “A Whole New World.” Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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