Olympic Fever putting ice skating events at Ice Den forefront
Ice skating is taking center stage at both the Ice Den Scottsdale and Ice Den Chandler this month as the facilities showcase their Olympic Fever program.
And they’re doing it in style with the recent announcement that two-time U.S. champion and 2014 Olympian Gracie Gold has joined the professional figure skating coaching staff.
Gold will now work alongside two Olympians already on staff in Steven Cousins and Naomi Lang, while Lyndsey Fry – a Gilbert native and former Olympian in hockey in 2014 – is hosting a youth skills development clinic on Feb. 25 at the Ice Den Chandler and the Ice Den will also host a free “Learn to Speed Skate” class as well.
Just 22, Gold first started skating at the age of eight and will teach advanced skaters of all ages at both the Ice Den Scottsdale and Ice Den Chandler.
She was the 2012 World Junior silver medalist and a two-time U.S. national champion (2014 and 2016). At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Gold received a bronze medal in the team event and placed fourth in the ladies’ single skating competition. Her highest place at a World Championship is fourth, achieved consecutively in 2015 and 2016.
With Gold’s addition, the Ice Den continues to enhance its nationally-recognized programs by offering Valley skaters the opportunity to train and perform under the guidance of world-class athletes who understand the conditioning, commitment and drive required to compete at the highest level.
“We are honored that Gracie chose the Ice Dens to launch her coaching career,” said Ice Den vice president of skating and programming Julie Patterson. “We have no doubt that her ideas and expertise will have an immediate and positive impact on our programs. She is a role model for many of our skaters and we are thrilled that she will play a role in their development.”
Cousins was the 1993 Skate Canada International bronze medalist and an eight-time British national champion. He finished as high as sixth at the 1998 Olympics, seventh at the 1998 World Championships and fourth at the 1996 European Championships.
With skating partner Peter Tchernyshev, Lang was a two-time Four Continents champion (2000, 2002), a five-time U.S. national champion (1999-2003) and competed at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Lang was also the first Native American female athlete to participate in the Winter Olympics.
“Similar to our hockey programs, our ‘Learn to Skate’ and figure skating programs continue to see tremendous growth each season,” said Ice Den vice president of marketing and communications Marcy Fileccia. “Our ‘Learn to Skate’ program consistently ranks in the top 10 in the country for participant numbers. By offering such a strong entry-level program, we build a foundation and pipeline of future hockey skaters and figure skaters who then transition into those sports.”
Fileccia added that it is quite a bonus to have Olympians on staff to teach and instruct.
“Having experienced coaches who have competed at the highest level in our sport provides unmeasurable value to our program,” Fileccia said. “Much like having a former NHL player coach a hockey team, the Olympians know the commitment and dedication that it takes to achieve that goal. For our skaters to have access to their insight, experiences, successes and struggles is a huge benefit.”
And as the interest and participation in ice skating continues to boom in Arizona as a whole, Fileccia noted that handling that growth can be challenging, but in a good way.
“Recognizing that ice is at a premium in the state, it is sometimes a challenge to balance the growth,” said Fileccia. “Our goal is to continue to provide the highest quality programming for all of our participants.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 23, 2018)