For the first time, the Cube Ice and Entertainment Center in Valencia hosted the U.S. Figure Skating National Qualifying series on Sunday, in which skaters from across the region were able to fight for a chance to go to Nationals.
Skaters had to bring their best stuff in order to stand out among the approximately 180 contestants who’ve trained for months, sometimes years, for their moment. For Lare FitzGibbon and Juliette Nosek, who combined have been skating for over 10 years, finally being able to have all their hard work pay off was rewarding.
“I think [I felt] kind of nervous but right after you’re done, you feel great… like all the training has paid off,” said Nosek.
“I think I did good. I missed one of my combination jumps. But other than that, I did pretty good,” said FitzGibbon.
Organizers said the event lasted three days and incorporated skaters of a variety of ages from both the Ice Sports Industry (a more recreational figure skating league) and the USFS (the internationally recognized and highly competitive league).
The USFS portion of the event is part of a nationwide qualifying series that lasts weeks. The top skaters from these qualifying events will then advance to the USFS national competition.
Jessica Terzian, director of guest services for The Cube, said the event is more than just a competition, however, and that it was a great opportunity for those who skate recreationally, or are at a very young age, to get inspiration from the older or more serious skaters.
“I think it’s super important for younger skaters to watch this, just to know that it’s not impossible. You can become a champion. It’s great to have the discipline and know that it’s not unobtainable,” said Terzian. “You see these Olympic champions on TV but you’re like, ‘I can never get there.’ But little do you know, you have this beautiful, amazing facility right in your hometown that has everything that you need and coming out to this event will show you, I can do it. It’s right here.”
One thing organizers wanted to point out was that almost the entire event was being run by volunteers, many of them former skaters themselves, who dedicated their own time to make this happen.
“The No. 1 thing I want [people] to know is the judges, the people who do the accounting in the back room, all the people feeding them, everyone checking you in, the people playing the music, the people announcing every single one of them, is a volunteer. There are no paid positions,” said Ann Jensen, event organizer and founding president of the Figure Skating Club of Southern California. “And it takes a lot of work, both leading up to the event and holding the event.”
If any of the skaters who participated in Sunday’s competition do well enough, they will be able to participate in the USFS national competition in January in San Jose.