High Sierra Adult Skating Camp hits the ice, fills SLT Ice Arena with figure skating, ice dancing | TahoeDailyTribune.com

High Sierra Adult Skating Camp hits the ice, fills SLT Ice Arena with figure skating, ice dancing

Anthony Gentile
Skaters and coaches at center ice during the fourth-annual High Sierra Adult Skating Camp last Friday at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena. The fcamp featured 32 skaters from 10 different states.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Freestyle skaters from across nation took over South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena last week during the fourth-annual High Sierra Adult Skating Camp. The intensive four-day camp featured adult skaters of all ability levels receiving instruction on the ice from elite coaches in a fun, social environment.

“Figure skating is a huge thing,” said Karen Viel, camp organizer. “It’s so much fun, the skaters are happy, the coaches all are fabulous and they all work well together.”

This year’s camp ran last Wednesday through Saturday at SLT Ice Arena before a USFSA test session on Sunday, and featured 32 skaters from 10 different states. When the camp started four years ago, it had 14 skaters.

“It’s pretty impressive for this little thing to draw that many people — word of mouth has made it grown,” Viel said. “We have a very high return rate, which is very cool.”

“For adults, a lot of (skating) is social — we’re a pretty big social group here.”Karen VielHigh Sierra Adult Skating Camp organizer

Participants in the camp ranged in age from 28 to 76 years old, and came from eight states outside of California and Nevada. This year’s group included skating enthusiasts from Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

“For adults, a lot of it is social — we’re a pretty big social group here,” Viel said. “Some of these adults started at 50 and 60 years old, some skated as kids and took a long break and started back again — it can be a lifelong sport.”

A handful of the camp’s participants hailed from the Tahoe Basin, and Viel said there are a number of skaters around the lake. Unfortunately, a lack of ice time has kept these skaters from creating a strong local community in the sport.

“It could be great, but we need ice time — it’s a huge thing for building programs,” Viel said.

At last week’s camp, ice time wasn’t in short supply — the four days featured morning clinics followed by private lessons in the afternoon. For multiple hours each day, skaters worked on turns, jumps, spins and ice dancing techniques.

“It’s adults at different levels doing different things, and everybody seems to get something out of it,” Viel said. “We try to do it so there’s something for everybody.”

Skaters received instruction from six coaches during the camp, including local coach Joanie Malarchuk. Guest coaches included four-time U.S. national champion, 1980 Olympic bronze medalist and Ice Capades star Charlie Tickner, three-time Canadian dance champions and Ice Capades stars John Dowding and Lorna Wighton Gosvenor, international competitor and coach Peter Sasmore along with Megan Brown.

For more information about the camp, visit highsierraadultskatecamp.wordpress.com.

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