Juneau Skating Club Forget-Me-Not team featured in last year’s spring event. The team is traveling to Irvine, California to compete in the Glacier Falls Classic on Saturday, Nov. 12. (Courtesy Photo / Kim Hort)

Juneau Skating Club Forget-Me-Not team featured in last year’s spring event. The team is traveling to Irvine, California to compete in the Glacier Falls Classic on Saturday, Nov. 12. (Courtesy Photo / Kim Hort)

Forget-Me-Not skaters return to California

Juneau Skating Club team competes in Glacier Fall Classic.

Juneau Skating Club’s Team Forget-Me-Not hasn’t forgotten just how well they did at last year’s Glacier Falls Classic competition.

“The team is really excited, they skated pretty well last year and they managed to finish second, so I think their expectations are pretty high. I know they have a lot of fun at this competition,” said coach Leah Farzin.

The team heads to Irvine, California, on Thursday to be at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena by Saturday where they’ll compete once more in this U.S. figure skating competition. Team manager Nicchia Leamer, whose daughter also skates for the team, said the extra time on the ice will prove to be valuable as ice tends to vary depending on where you’re at.

“We always leave a few days earlier because we need to practice on the rink ice there because there’s a big difference between the ice that we have here (in Alaska) and the ice that we have down south, usually the ice down there is much softer, it’s more thought of as figure skating ice whereas we have hockey ice up here,” said Leamer. “So we like to get at least a couple skates on the actual competition ice.”

Team Forget-Me-Not has members of varying ages between 14 and 18, which Leamer said largely consists of the same kids from last year with a couple exceptions of skaters not returning. Because of the mixed ages, it pushes their team into a pre-juvenile division, so while the Glacier Falls Classic is a qualifying competition, they’ll be skating as a non-qualifying team. Additionally, the team is the only competitive synchronized skating team in Alaska.

“They can’t compete with other teams in Alaska because there’s no one else to compete against, hence the need to travel out of state,” Leamer said. “This is their third time competing in this particular competition and they’ve won the bronze medal two other times, despite not being at a qualifying level.”

Farzin, who has been teaching ice skating in Juneau for roughly eight years, said 10 teams will be competing from all over the country with each team’s program having two and a half minutes to perform with six different elements they’re judged on.

“Synchronized skating is a discipline of skating that a lot of people might not be familiar with since it’s not in the Olympics, it involves multiple people on the ice together, so our team has 13 skaters,” Farzin said. “Just like skating you see in the Olympics, for each element the technical panel gives a grade for how difficult it was and then the judges, of which there are usually five, will then grade how well it was executed and we get either a plus or minus. Then they add it all up and whoever gets the most points wins.”

Farzin said this year they’ve been doing a lot of fundraising in preparation for sending the team to sectionals in Illinois in January, which they don’t normally do two trips in one year because of funding and the difficulty of getting kids to travel during the school year, but as Farzin explained, going to sectionals will be beneficial for this particular program that’s been together for over a year to see if they’re able to better their scores from the Fall Classic.

“I wanted them to have an experience of going to sectionals with the rest of their team and having the two competitions so that they can compare and also since this team has been together now for a second whole season, I thought it was a good time to give them that challenge, they’ve skated together now for a whole year. Last year we had a lot of new people, so that would have been kind of intimidating cost-wise and as a team,” Farzin said.

One of the team’s bigger fundraising efforts for the year is made through their annual Winter Holiday Exhibition, which is held at 1 p.m. on Dec. 11 at the Treadwell Ice Arena. It’s a free event for the public, however, the team raises money through a bake sale, hot cocoa stand, and other means in which people can give direct contributions.

“People should definitely come to the holiday show if they can because it’s both a great chance to actually see the skating and appreciate it because it’s so much hard work that these kids put into it, both for the individual and synchro, and we’ll also be accepting donations there,” Farzin said.

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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