ESCONDIDO, Calif. - If young Jamestown Skating Club members Morgan Johnson, 14, Mikayla Johnson, 12, and Kirsten DiPierro, 17, have any designs or dreams of becoming professional figure skaters in the very near future, they'll be taking one giant leap in the right direction when they participate in the U.S. Figure Skating National Showcase next week.
Just ask Jamestown Skating Club president Ellen Darrow.
Her daughter, Alexis, took part in the National Showcase a year ago in Strongsville, Ohio, and is now an under-contract member of the touring ice show, "Disney on Ice." Among other things, it was Alexis' participation in the National Showcase that Darrow highlighted as a key experience for the now professional figure skater.
These skaters from the Jamestown Skating Club are competing at U.S. Figure Skating’s National Showcase Aug. 9-11 in Escondido, Calif. From left are Morgan Johnson, who will mimic some of Lucy’s antics in her light entertainment number; Kirsten DiPierro, who will skate to Lady Marmalade as her dramatic entertainment number; and Mikayla Johnson, who will perform a 1950s hula hoop routine to Happy Days. They qualified by placing in showcase competitions throughout the competitive season.
"This is a big deal," Darrow said, "Alexis and Jaylyn (Orwig, another "Disney on Ice" member and Jamestown Skating Club alumna) went last year (to the National Showcase) and it is something that Disney likes to see their performers take part in because it really focuses on the entertainment aspect (of the sport)."
The National Showcase held its first competition in 2004, and is often described as a "Theatrical Figure Skating Competition." It will be held in Escondido - a city of about 150,000 people situated in the hills 30 miles north of San Diego and just 20 miles east of the Pacific Coast - and there the three will be competing under spotlight both in the single and duet (sisters Morgan and Mikayla will be performing "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" with one another) events.
During the showcase, each skater will compete in the light entertainment, dramatic entertainment and extemporaneous improvisational categories.
During each of their programs, which were developed with the Jamestown Skating Club, they will be competing under a spotlight, with all eyes in attendance at the Escondido Iceoplex on them - though this will be nothing new to the veteran skaters.
During her light entertainment program, Morgan, very aptly given the fact that Jamestown is at this moment celebrating "Lucy Fest," will be mimicking some of Lucy's antics, Kirsten will be skating to "Lady Marmalade" during her dramatic entertainment program and Mikayla will be performing a 1950s-style hula hoop routine.
DiPierro left yesterday for California while Mikayla and Morgan will be leaving Wednesday, arriving just a day before the competition is slated to begin.
The trio qualified for the national competition thanks to their solid performances - a top four finish in their respective events - at a local showcase earlier this year.
"They've done quite a few showcases before," Darrow said of the group, "but this will be their first National Showcase."
At the National Showcase, jump and program difficulty are not judged - though errors or falls will result in lower scores - rather, what matters most is how well the skaters play to the audience and the energy with which they perform.
"It's a lot of fun," Darrow said, "and the judges will be looking for them to be having a great time and entertaining the crowd, because that's what the competition is all about."
It's that entertainment factor makes the competition especially enjoyable for the skaters. And while it may not seem like a competition where winning is paramount, that doesn't mean Morgan, Mikayla and Kirsten aren't looking to be considered among the best.
"I know there will be a lot of people there and it will be very competitive," Morgan said. "If you finish in the top four (of your events) you move on to the final, so that's what we'll be trying to do."