NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - How much work does it take to get to an elite level of competition like at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that ended Sunday at Bridgestone Arena?
Making a jump look easy takes a lot of hard work, both on the ice and off.
It all happens under the watchful eye of elite trainers like Kori Ade.
“We just want to be a warm and inviting place where kids feel safe, supported, and like anything as possible,” Ade said.
Anything includes competing for the national championship like last week in Nashville.
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Most of the people who competed for the national championship in Nashville had been on the ice for 15 years, working for this moment.
“Before puberty is a really good time for athletes to start skating, anywhere between three and I’ll say 10, is ideal,” Ade said.
The idea: get kids hooked on skating when it’s just fun.
“I like ice skating because all my friends are here,” Scarlett Bradley said.
When they start setting goals, they’re prepared to do the hard stuff, like on a spinner where skaters gain strength and skills necessary for fast-paced spins.
“It’s actually, it’s kind of scary, but it’s also anytime you feel like you’re flying and a lot of fun,” Bradley said.
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Or working on those impressive jumps with a pole harness, helping skaters overcome what trainers said is the biggest obstacle – fear.
“I can do different things to convince them they can do things a little beyond where they think they’re at,” Eric Mumper, a pole harness specialist, said.
Ade estimates those wanting to make it to the Olympic spend 40 hours a week either gliding on the ice or pushing their endurance in the gym.
“It’s a lifestyle and there will be a fork in the road where every athlete who wants to be competitive will say, ‘What are the sacrifices that I need to make at this point?’”
Sacrifices that can include moving to train with the right coach.
“I started doing Facetime in New Jersey and it was going really well. I was getting all new jumps, my technique was getting better, my artistry was getting better,” Antonio Monaco said. “I started coming down by myself, and that’s how I’m able to be down here and really make a push for the qualifying season.”
Monaco shares the ice with Ethan and Eliana Teal, a brother and sister ice dancing pair training in Nashville.
They’re amongst the best novice skaters in the country right now and finished third at the junior level during the U.S. Championships.
“We just love the energy of Nashville. Everyone is so nice, and the vibe is great and so I think it’ll be really awesome to feel that at nationals,” Ethan Teal said. “I know we have a lot of family and friends that get to come this year because nationals is usually so far away.”
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It’s training skaters like these and having people experience events in person that Ade hopes will attract more people to the sport in the Music City whether they want to be U.S. Champions or not.
“This concept of high work, you know, married to athleticism and married artistry, and then what we can feel is the energy, the electric energy in the entire arena, when that all starts to come together. It’s pretty amazing,” Ade said.
“That’s one of the coolest aspects of skating is that there is a track for everybody. If you said, ‘Hey, I’m 78. This is my dream. I want to figure skate,’ we will find you an awesome costume. We will make that dream come true.”
The Teals won bronze in last week’s Junior U.S. Figure Skating Championship.