South Dakota figure skaters pass gold medal tests

RAPID CITY, SD — Joelle Simpson and Hunter Widvey, two figure skaters from the Black Hills Figure Skating Club, recently won gold medals after passing the toughest level of their test track. As skaters progress through training and performance, they can progress through levels by passing tests in categories such as Field Moves, Free Skate, Pairs, and Ice Dance.

Hunter Widveygold medalist in the American figure skating test, explains that “tThe gold medal test is the highest level test you can take, so there are eight different levels. And a lot of skaters have been at it for many, many years, and it’s the highest form you can achieve, and it’s a great honor and accomplishment to get there.

Her trainer, Debbie Minter, is a Figure skating coach certified by the Professional Skaters Association.

She explained that the tests consist of performing “patterns that consist of different skating skills, gliding moves, advanced turns and edges, and they must be exactly as written.

Skaters are judged on every detail, and more than one major error means automatic failure, so the test must be repeated.

Of all the skaters who start the test course, only less than 3% reach this level,” adds Minter.

Joelle and Hunter traveled to Colorado for the test, as there are no skating judges in South Dakota. Although it added pressure to an already lengthy process, the girls were happy to be able to support each other.

“OOne of the things that was really cool about this trip was the fact that they trained together and were sparring buddies,” Minter says. “They fed on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They looked at each other. They learned from each other. They helped each other. They encouraged each other and I just think it’s, in a sport that’s so individual, very rare and very, very cool.

The girls accepted.

“IIt was cool, like seeing what Joel was doing. Like, ‘Oh, I better practice too’…staying on track and also just pushing yourself to be better. And, you know, when we were grappling with things, we could relate to each other,” Widvey explains.

“I was super happy to have Hunter test with me on the same day. I think having someone take the exact same test on similar nerves and just having another person you know and that you’ve known for a long time is there, I think it really helped me perform better,” Joelle Simpson, US Figure Skating Test gold medalist agreed.

Despite these successes, their skating journey and days on the ice are far from over. Joëlle hopes to continue on the test track.

I plan to get two more gold medals, I hope to become a quadruple gold medalist. So I have six tests left, I believe, so I have one more senior free skate left, and then I have five dance tests left until I achieve two more gold medals.

Minter, Widvey and Simpson all agree that it’s never too late to start skating, and Joelle even teaches beginner classes locally.

I’ve been teaching skate lessons for about five years now, and it’s honestly one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I love teaching others and helping to share that joy of skating.

For more information on the Black Hills Figure Skating Club, click here.

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