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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tidewater Figure Skating Club: Performing Beyond the Ice

Tidewater Figure Skating Production team recently performed a circus themed show. (Tidewater Figure Skating Club)

YORKTOWN — Figure skating isn’t just a once-every-four-years winter Olympic sport for members of the Tidewater Figure Skating Club, where skaters young and old focus on spins, jumps and the finer nuances of skating year round.

Even those who don’t have a lot of skating experience can still take part, thanks to the club’s production team.

The teams are based out of Chesapeake and Yorktown and call Chilled Ponds home. The groups begin the year picking out a theme for their holiday showcase.

Jill Stewart, Skating Director of Tidewater Figure Skating Club, explains, “With production, you can have anywhere from nine to 30 skaters on the ice. You get to pick a theme and put music that is appropriate for that theme.”

Past themes have included “Grease the Musical,” “Shrek the Musical,” the Grinch, a circus, art, painting, colors, and prince and princesses.

For the holiday themed program in Chesapeake, the production team did a routine to the medley from “Elf the Musical.” In Yorktown, the production team put on a routine to different holiday movie classics.

Two of Tidewater Figure Skating Club’s production team members before the holiday showcase. (Tidewater Figure Skating Club)

“What’s nice about production is that there is no skating requirement or age requirement. You can have a 3-year-old on the ice as the same time as a 72-year-old. We get all ages and it’s fun,” Stewart said.

The production teams fall under the US Figure Skating governing body, which reports to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

“Production is the one event that US Figure Skating offers that doesn’t have an age requirement or a skating ability requirement. It really is for everyone,” Stewart explains.

During the 2023 holiday showcase, production team skaters got out into the community by performing at a Norfolk Admirals intermission. After that performance and a break for the holidays, work has now begun on the 2024 competitive season, which kicks off in April.

Stewart, a former skater herself, started the Chesapeake-based program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Yorktown has had a production team for a long time. In Chesapeake, we started during the pandemic. Through it all, I wanted the skaters to have a purpose. It was an opportunity where skaters could be on the ice together and have a common purpose of choreographing a program and then they could perform it for their parents and friends,” Stewart said.

For Stewart, the incorporation of team-based skating gives more kids the opportunity to be on the ice.

“The production team is a great segue into the world of competitive skating. So much of competitive skating is individual programs. We have a couple of team-based things through Tidewater Figure Skating Club, with our theater on ice program, our production team, and our synchronized skating program. There’s a lot kids out there that want to do something team related. They get to be out there with their peers and the sole focus isn’t on them, it’s really about the team,” Stewart said.

After participating in the production team, many skaters have gone on to become competitive figure skaters, whether that be as a soloist, ice dancer, or partner programs.

The Tidewater Figure Skating Club production team before hitting the ice at the Norfolk Admirals game. (Tidewater Figure Skating Club)

At the end of the day, Stewart and her team of coaches try to make sure that their skaters always understand that falling and failing are all part of the process.

“When we start, I always tell my skaters that this is not an easy sport. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The fear of falling is the biggest fear for many of our adult skaters. I always explain that falling is part of the learning curve. You will fall and you can’t be afraid of it, but you always have to get up,” Stewart said.

The holiday production team is open to all ages, regardless of skating ability. During the competitive season, there is a kids production team and an adults-only production team. For more information on the Tidewater Figure Skating Club and all their offerings, visit skatetidewater.org.

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