Friday, July 21, 2006

Skating trio finds friendship on the ice

Young skaters prepare for national championships in Sun Valley

In the world of competitive figure skating, the desire to win can sometimes overpower all other considerations. The 1994 Tonya Harding scandal, where Harding's ex-husband smacked rival skater Nancy Kerrigan on the knee with a club, showed us that.

But members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club have found something of value in ice skating that goes beyond just the will to win. They've found friendship on the ice.

That quality is exemplified by three young Sun Valley skaters: Devon Sherrard, Telar McClure and Alexandra Harten.

"It's always good to have friends at a competition, because if you lose, you can be happy for your friends if they win," said 9-year-old Alexandra, a fourth grader at Community School in Sun Valley.

The three skaters were practicing Wednesday at the Sun Valley outdoor skating rink in preparation for competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Association Summer Championships that started Thursday at the Sun Valley Skating Center. The four-day event ends Sunday.

The girls are no strangers to competition. Though young, they've been competing on the ice for several years.

"Skating is definitely a good place to have friends from different places," said 10-year-old Devon, a fifth grader at Community School. "Because you meet them and then look forward to seeing them again at competition."

Devon started figure skating lessons at the age of 5, and has skated competitively for four years.

A brief bio, prepared by Andrea Nelson, SVFSC publicity chairman says: "Devon is focused and responsible in her own training, but she always makes time to help her friends when they ask for skating advice. Sweet and patient, Devon makes a great coach in the making."

Devon said she thrives on competition and aspires to be a future Olympian.

"I guess I like the competition," she said. "I enjoy working hard and challenging myself. I don't think there is a worse part about skating. Even when you lose and get disappointed in competition, it's all good learning."

When she's not skating, Devon enjoys horseback riding. "I don't do that much else," she said.

`Somewhat more shy than the other two girls, 11-year-old Telar McClure aspires to be the best skater she can be. She said she enjoys competition, but is focused more on perfecting her own skills than she is on winning events.

"I want to be able to get really good," said Telar, sixth grader at Wood River Middle School.

Telar is also a downhill skier.

A bio provided by Nelson says: "While skating is her primary sport, she's also an avid ski racer and participates in ski team in the winter. Telar is a strong, well-rounded athlete who always has a smile on her face and is a terrific example of good sportsmanship."

Alexandra, who is Nelson's daughter, aspires to make ice skating a career.

"My goal is to win a national title and become a coach," she said. She also likes to swim, enjoys science at school and is having fun this summer building a tree house and rope bridge with her father, Rodney Harten.

She has at least one other goal: "I've always wanted to skate on a frozen pond," she said.

Nelson said she thinks Alexandra got the idea from the movie Sun Valley Serenade.

She said all three of the girls have competed locally and out of state for at least three years. They practice hard at ice skating, spending three or four days each week on the ice.

Nelson said Devon, Telar and Alexandra are mature beyond their ages when it comes to balancing the will to win with the need for friendship.

"What I like about these girls is that they take an individual sport and treat it as a team sport," Nelson said. "They go to each other's events, they clap for each other, they congratulate each other. In fact, I think the whole club is that way -- they're a remarkable group."

Nelson said friendships are invaluable when the girls travel to various events.

"When you go to competition, it is stressful, so it is good to go back to your room and have friends to hang out with, or go swimming with, she said."

Devon, Telar and Alexandra have learned at an early age, that when the competition is over, win or lose, friendship is something that remains.

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