Figure skaters from all over the U.S. including eight from the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club convened Aug. 7-12 at the California’s Pickwick Gardens ice rink to showcase their best light entertainment, dramatic entertainment, duet, interpretative and group programs.
A stone’s throw away from the famed Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, entertainment of a different sort took the spotlight during the 2014 National Showcase Skating Championships.
SVFSC coaches Holly Wheeler and Gia Guddat accompanied the following SVSFC participants:
Antonia Avery competed at the Preliminary level; Alex Stuessi and Blake Letourneau took the ice in Pre-Juvenile events; Emma Stuessi, Katie Peters and Lane Letourneau were in Teen; Isabella Bourret went up against other Intermediates; and Joyce Chan competed at Novice, highest level of Sun Valley’s competitors.
Blake Letourneau took home the overall gold when the competition concluded. She won the Light Entertainment title for the second year in a row.
Her program, a medley of 80s hits performed with the full accouterment of big hair, neon leg warmers, headphones, sweatbands and a Walkman, had her dancing like it was 1989 right to the top of the podium. More than three dozen skaters vied for the honor.
As the overall winner at her level, Blake Letourneau competed in the Parade of Junior Champions. Letourneau took seventh of 16 in this group. She is coached by Wheeler, and her winning program was choreographed by Guddat.
Many Sun Valley skaters made it through the qualifying rounds to continue to compete.
At National Showcase, events exceeding 15 entrants included a final round to determine a champion in that category. The highest-placed skaters from each initial group went on to participate in the final round of competition.
Joyce Chan edged her way to the finals two ways. First was her Light Entertainment program in which she performed as a dancing hippo that wants to make it on the Great White Way. She also made the finals with an evocative program to the song “Mad World.”
Skating in highly competitive groups, Chan’s final placements were a strong fourth and third respectively.
Katie Peters placed first in the qualifying rounds for both her light and dramatic programs and finished strong.
Peters came in fourth overall with her interpretation of a number from the Broadway musical “Newsies” for Light Entertainment and third with her creepy-in-a-good-way doll character from the film “Coraline” for Dramatic.
Blake Letourneau placed second in the qualifying round of her dramatic entertainment program in which she acted out the part of Maleficent. She placed sixth in the finals.
Also qualifying for the final rounds were Isabella Bourret, Lane Letourneau and Antonia Avery.
In the initial groups, Isabella placed third for her hilarious light entertainment program where she skated as the huge snowman Olaf from the hit movie “Frozen.”
Lane Letourneau added a chill to the ice as the Corpse Bride, winning second place in the qualifying round for Dramatic Entertainment. Antonia Avery also took second in the first round with her delightful light program channeling a cleaning lady gone wild.
All the skaters also participated in duet programs, going for gold, during their visit to the Golden State.
Alex Stuessi and Blake Letourneau won second overall in Pre-Juvenile for their laugh-out-loud take on the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding skating scandal of 1994.
Joyce Chan and Antonia Avery, competing at the Novice level placed second with a rollicking “Star Wars” number.
Taking to the ice as Mario and Luigi, Katie Peters and Isabelle Bourret scored fourth place with a high-energy routine and Lane Letourneau and Emma Stuessi skated a fun parody of the “selfie” phenomenon that earned them sixth.
The eight skaters also competed in a group number that took sixth place in a highly competitive field.
Sporting their Idaho finest, the girls skated dressed as Famous Potatoes visiting Hollywood. They acted out a mélange of famous clips from iconic movies, covering silent films, “The Wizard of Oz,” “Jaws,” “The Exorcist,” “Dirty Dancing,” and “E.T.”
The program ended with the group very emotional upon receipt of a blow-up Oscar statuette. The audience roared and the skaters had a great time performing the number choreographed by Gia Guddat.
“We are really proud that we had so many skaters qualify in at least one event this year,” said Wheeler. “It was a huge competition with 400 competitors and close to 700 starts. Our skaters were very competitive bringing original, creative programs and great energy to a tough competition.”
Guddat said, “This was one of the biggest National Showcase competitions that I have ever been to. I was really happy that so many skaters made it to the final rounds of competition and that we came home with so many medals.”
Seven of the skaters train with Wheeler as their primary coach and with Guddat as choreographer. Katie Peters works with Lisa-Marie Allen as her primary coach. Shayna Moellenberg is her choreographer.
National Showcase 2014 was hosted by the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club. Skaters qualified for the event by placing in the top four at any showcase, theatrical or interpretive event during sanctioned, non-qualifying competitions in the past year. Skaters could earn spots by having placed in the top four at National Showcase the previous year.