Jamestown's renowned summer figure skating competition, Skate Chautauqua, will be kicking off on Friday morning and while the event is just a few short years shy of the two-decade mark, the members of the Jamestown Skating Club taking part are as excited as ever to get out on the ice.
In fact, it's one of the few events that they will circle on their calendars months in advance.
"They look forward to this all year," said Jamestown Skating Club president Aimee Finson, who has twin daughters, Emily and Megan, competing in their third Skate Chautauqua competition this year. "They began working on and developing their programs as early as May, so it's one of the events that these girls live for."
Jamestown Skating Club members Christina Walczak, above, and Tyler Farber get in some practice on Tuesday at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena as they prepare for Skate Chautauqua that will be held on Friday and Saturday. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
That's certainly the case for veteran figure skater Christina Walczak, who's excitement remains despite having taken part in more Skate Chautauqua competitions than she can remember.
"I'm not sure how many times (I've participated) before," she said with a smile, "but I've been (getting ready) for a couple of months and am really excited."
She added, "I think everybody is looking forward to it."
With good reason.
Over the years the event, which has been held every year since 1996 and has welcomed such prominent faces in the figure skating world as - to name just a few - Sarah Hughes, the 2002 Olympic champion, and Miko Ando, the 2007 and 2011 world champion, has proven to be a stepping stone to future national prominence in the sport. Hughes captured a gold medal at Skate Chautauqua in 1997 while Ando took the top spot in her events in 2005.
This year's event will, in addition to the 18 Jamestown Skating Club members taking part, welcome a hefty number competitors from all skill levels, all ages and from all over.
"We have close to 125 skaters coming to participate," Finson said, "so we've got quite a lot this year. They are coming from Ohio, Buffalo, Pennsylvania and even Canada."
Admission to the event, which will be held at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, is free, so Finson encourages anyone with an interest to "just show up" and check out some excellent figure skating. On Friday the competition begins at 9 a.m. with a juvenile short program and will run continuously until the junior ladies short program is finished sometime around 6 p.m. Day two on Saturday is expected to follow the same 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule.
This will be the first Skate Chautauqua with Finson, who has been a board member with the JSC since last year and recently took over for Ellen Darrow, at the helm.
Putting on the show, however, has been a group effort.
"Ellen has been helping quite a bit and we've had two chairpersons (Kathy Geary and Laura Farber) who have been working on this since the first of the year," Finson said. "They've gotten progressively busier since then, but they've been working hard and doing a great job.
"It's been a group effort."
For more information, visit the Jamestown Skating Club's website at jamestownskatingclub.com.