Over 550 skaters are registered to compete in the ISI World Recreational Team Championships July 28-31 at the NSC Super Rink in Blaine.
Among these, 11 skaters from the Hutchinson Figure Skating Club: Sydney Alberts, Johannah Benner, Ava Forcier, Riana Forcier, Allyson Kopesky, Ava Paulson, Kadi Powell, Emma Schwartz, Emma Staples and Ashley Witte.
“This is an ISI (Ice Sports Industry) sponsored national figure skating event where skaters from all over the world compete against each other,” said Andrea Schwartz, HFSA Coach and Gold Certified ISI Coach. “It’s a four-day competition that will take place on three surfaces of ice.
ISI Worlds is held in Minnesota every four years. It was scheduled for Minnesota in 2020 but has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other locations have included Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Denver.
Much larger in scope and participation than a traditional skating competition, ISI Worlds offers over 25 different skating event categories for individuals, partners, groups and teams. The event is known as the largest annual recreational ice skating competition in the country.
This year’s competition will feature competitors aged 4 to 79 and of all skill levels representing 40 rink teams from 10 states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin ).
“The HFSA enjoys attending many ISI skating competitions because they provide many social and peer group opportunities outside of competing for skating events,” said Amber Erickson, who has coached figure skating for 13 years and is currently a Gold Certified ISI Coach. “Skaters love to meet people who share common interests and look forward to cultivating new friendships from all over the world.”
The ISI Recreational Ice Skating program is based on “participation, not elimination” and features many major recreational competitions each year, with Worlds being the most important. Some of the National Champions and Olympians who started in ISI programs include: Jason Brown, Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold, Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan, Mirai Nagasu, Sasha Cohen, Evan Lysacek, Dorothy Hamill and more.
Allyson Kopesky, 17, soon to be attending Hutchinson High School, is making his second “Worlds” appearance.
“I did very well,” she said of her first “Worlds” appearance. “I placed in the top third of my events.” She hopes to recreate the magic a second time. “I’m excited, but it will be different this year. Without COVID there would be a lot more people.”
Kopesky has been skating since he was 4 years old.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “I met a lot of friends through skating. It’s a good environment with my friends and my coaches.
One of the strengths of “Worlds” for skaters is that they exchange pins with other skaters. So in the end they end up with a lot of different pins from a lot of different states.
“Exchanging pins is a way to make new friends,” Kopesky said. “I have some really cool Hawaiian and Wisconsin pins – that was super cool.”
She is also looking forward to talking about skating and meeting people she has already met.
When it comes to sports, Kopesky highly recommends it. She combines it with the HHS Showstoppers dance line.
“I’ve been in Showstoppers since eighth grade,” she said. “They work very well together.”
This will be Ashley Witte’s first “Worlds” appearance.
“I am competing in three events,” she said. “This is a cool opportunity that I have never done before and (I will have) the opportunity to compete with people from other states. It will be a new experience.”
Witte has been skating for eight years. The 15 year old HHS student stayed with because it’s “really fun and I like it”.
Emma Staples, 15, is participating in her second “World Cup”.
“I like to challenge myself, and skating is a great outlet for me,” said the prospective grade 10 HHS student. “I do a lot of competitions. I love the challenge of overcoming your nerves and developing your mental strength to overcome problems. It is difficult to appear in front of a lot of people.
Staples said she has the support of her coaches.
“They talk to me during the warm-up,” she said. “My coaches are like second moms. They’ve been there for everything.”
Emma Schwartz, 17, can thank her mom for introducing her to skating.
“My mom signed me up when I was 4,” she said. “I never stopped. I just kept going.”
Schwartz, who will be a senior at HHS, called it a “different competition” because “anyone from the world can come, so there is more competition and different people to compete against.” She is looking forward to it.
“It’s fun to compete with people we don’t see,” she said. “You normally see all the same people at a competition.”
Schwartz will miss skating at the end.
“It’s something very different from other sports,” she said. “And you meet a lot of fun people. I got a sure work ethic and built my confidence.”