Freshman finds much success in a non-traditional sport

By Megan Bodenschatz — Spinning, twirling and jumping: when thought of, these actions are usually applied to gymnastics or dancing, but for freshman Sarah Hallas they have a completely different meaning.

Sarah became interested in figure skating because of a book report she did on Michelle Quan in the fourth grade.  She is now coached by Stephanie Troyer, Autumn Beddell, Jenna Zavasky and Chris Martin.

“We went to Center Ice during open skate to get pictures of the skating rink and we saw a paper about a Learn to Skate class and I’ve been skating every since,” Sarah said.

In figure skating, there are multiple tests  a skater can take in order to advance to the next level.  For the moves in the field category, the skater shows the judges different patterns of footwork for their level.  There are eight levels of this category; Sarah is in the sixth level: intermediate.

Another category is freestyle.  In this category, the skater skates their program, or choreographed routine, with specific jumps and spins to achieve.  This category also has eight levels; Sarah is in level two: preliminary.

The final category is dance.  The skater skates to the beat and timing of the music and follows a certain pattern.  This category has six levels; Sarah is in the third level: bronze.  As skaters pass these tests and achieve the ranking of higher levels, they are then put into higher levels of competitions in order to compete with individuals at the same level as them.

“The thing that I most admire about Sarah and her skating is that she is always herself,” Sarah’s mom, Genevieve Hallas said.  “She acts crazy, silly, and just plain enjoys herself.  She doesn’t care what others think. She is herself and that is difficult for many teenagers.”

Most recently, Sarah won fifth place at the regional competition on Oct. 7 and 8 in Michigan.  In the first round, there were three groups of 15 girls.  The top four girls from each group moved on to the next round.  Sarah got the third place medal, putting her in the competition for the next day.  In the second round, she tied for fourth place, but ended up being bumped down to fifth place.

“If you have it, you know it.  You go out there and skate your best and then you win,” Sarah said.

This accomplishment does not come easy for Sarah as she goes to practice everyday after school for two hours and there is no off-season.  Sarah attends competitions all year long, her biggest competition being regionals, and attends summer camps to work on strength and flexibility.

“I get a lot of bruises and fall a lot, but I still get up because it’s fun,” Sarah said.

Sarah still has goals to accomplish and more spins and jumps to master.  Currently, she is working on doubles, which is when the skater makes two full spins in the air before landing back on the ice.  Doubles may look graceful, but they take a lot of speed to build up and land successfully.

“It is exciting to see Sarah progress in her levels not only because I like to see her grow as a skater, but because she can use these skills later in life,” Genevieve said.  “If she choses, she can coach during high school, college or even as a career.”

Currently, Sarah does teach the Learn to Skate class to level three skaters.  She plans on skating in college and hopefully coaching and/or teaching after college.