Back on the ice: High Sierra Adult Skate Camp returns to South Shore for fifth edition |

Back on the ice: High Sierra Adult Skate Camp returns to South Shore for fifth edition

Anthony Gentile |
The High Sierra Adult Skating camp returned to the South Shore for the fifth straight year, running May 18-22 at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena.
Courtesy / Sharisse Coulter |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Figure skaters and ice dancers took over local ice for five days last week at the fifth annual High Sierra Adult Skate Camp. The camp returned to SLT Ice Arena May 18-22, and featured 44 skaters learning and improving their craft in an intensive yet fun environment.

“I’m always just so amazed — it’s pretty exciting,” camp organizer Karen Viel said. “I keep adding different things to make it more fun.”

Viel lives in Incline Village, and has run the camp since its start a half-decade ago. It debuted in 2012 with 14 skaters. The camp has a 90 percent return rate and this year featured skaters from Incline Village and Truckee, throughout the United States, and across the pond from England.

“It’s such a good group,” Viel said. “Everybody is nice and everybody wants to be here.”

“Adult skating is growing everywhere in leaps and bounds.”La La Van CampHigh Sierra Adult Skate Camp participant

Campers ranged in age from 29 years old to 77-year-old Connie Curry from Saratoga, California, who recently competed at the USFSA Adult Championships. The camp began Wednesday, May 18, with four 10-to-12-hour days featuring clinics and lessons followed by a day of test sessions on Sunday, May 22.

“There are all sorts of different levels for freestyle and dance,” Viel said. “It’s doing different moves and there are levels of elements you have to complete — with three judges in your face.”

Instruction at the camp came from Olympians Charlie Tickner, John Dowding and Lorna Wighton along with Peter Sasmore and Joanie Malarchuk and new coaches Ty Cockrum, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre. Sasmore alone was at the rink for 12 hours on multiple days and taught 61 lessons during the camp outside of clinics.

“There are a lot of adults that want to skate, and the coaches love working with adults because the parents aren’t along, we want to be there and we want to learn,” Viel said. “They thrive on this.”

Lala Van Camp has skated in the South Shore camp for three straight years, and the Glendale, Arizona, native keeps coming back because of the skating, the camaraderie and the scenery. She picked up the sport as an adult 13 years ago and was immediately hooked.

“I used to like to watch skating and always thought I’d like to try it some day,” Van Camp said. “One day I called a rink by my house and went for a private lesson, and I went out and skated — the next week I bought a pair of boots and skated every day since.”

Van Camp began as a freestyle skater before turning to ice dancing. She attends multiple camps during annually, and said the High Sierra Adult Skate Camp is her favorite year in and year out.

“Everybody supports each other and we’re not all competing,” Van Camp said. “Everybody is doing their own thing, there’s great coaches and I’ve learned so much. The people make it feel like family.”

For Van Camp, the ultimate goal is to test at a gold level in pattern dancing — the last level before becoming a U.S. Figure Skating gold medalist. She has appeared in various national competitions and has her sights sets on an objective she believes will require at least a half-decade to achieve.

“Adult skating is growing everywhere in leaps and bounds,” Van Camp said.

For more information about the High Sierra Adult Skate Camp, visit

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