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Local team advances to figure skating championships

Jan. 27, 2013 @ 09:30 PM

Last year, skaters Caroline Leadmon and Jacob Schedl earned their second trip to the United States Figure Skating Association's Junior National Championships.

While that trip was exciting, it ended with an injury from a blade that sent Schedl to the hospital. Even with Schedl finishing the last program bleeding from a blade cut, the pair strongly represented the state as its only ice dance team at the competition.

The local teens, who compete in the discipline of ice dancing, return this week to the junior nationals competition, which takes place in Omaha, Neb. The team hopes to best their 2012 performance against other top teams in the nation in the intermediate level of ice dancing. They qualified by winning the bronze medal at the Midwestern Sectional Skating Championships in Strongsville, Ohio, in November 2012.

Leadmon, 14, is a freshman at Hurricane High School. Schedl, 17, is a junior at George Washington High School in Charleston.

The two honor students have been skating together since 2010 and have continued to improve and rack up accomplishments in ice dancing, a strong and growing discipline of figure skating often described as "ballroom dancing on ice."

Ice dancing requires skill, timing, consistency and unison in motion, which take years to develop. The close proximity of the skaters as they perform intricate dance patterns, as well as spins and lifts on ice, make it difficult to perform. Figure skating is also somewhat dangerous, as the skaters' razor-sharp blades move rapidly close to each others' bodies.

The team spends 10 to 12 hours per week training under the direction of Victoria Fauver Robb at the South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena in South Charleston. They also frequently skate in Cleveland with coaches Lynne Rimmer and Jackie Miles. In Cleveland, they share the ice with other nationally ranked teams at the Pavillion Skating Club.

At this week's competition, they will compete with two pattern dances: the Rocker Foxtrot to "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and the European Waltz to "Edelweiss" from the movie "The Sound of Music." They also will compete their Free Dance to a medley from the movie soundtrack "Dirty Dancing."

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