Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Hamill energizes adult skaters

Olympic champ inspires at camp; Evora shoots high in 'Battle of the Blades'
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Dorothy Hamill (left) skating with a camp participant. -courtesy of Dorothy Hamill Figure Skating Fantasy Camp

The fifth annual Dorothy Hamill Figure Skating Fantasy Camp will take place from Oct. 20-25. After four years on Nantucket, Mass., the camp is moving to the Ice Den in Scottsdale, Ariz. Adult skaters of all levels will spend the week training on and off the ice with Hamill, Randy Gardner, JoJo Starbuck, Elin Schran and Richard Dwyer.

"We try to keep it small," Hamill told us. "I haven't decided whether I'm going to hire a choreographer or another coach."

Hamill says the camp is like a retreat for the participants, some of whom return year after year. Skaters come from as far away as Australia to skate with their idols.

"Some of the people have skated before, and some have never skated," Hamill said. "It's all adults; the younger ones can be intimidating."

The campers arrive on Sunday afternoon and meet all the coaches at a welcome reception. They get on the ice each morning and do different classes, like edge classes or improvisational skating.

"A coach or two will teach the class, and other coaches participate," Hamill said. "We break up into smaller groups, and a couple of coaches will teach specific moves. Everyone gets a private lesson from each of the coaches, and we've tried to extend that so the lessons aren't as short as they were in previous years."

Throughout the week, a choreographer puts together an ensemble number, which is performed at the end of the camp. In addition to the skating, there are special dinners on some nights during which the coaches tell stories about their experiences and share insights on competitive and professional skating.

"Every year has a couple of moments you don't forget," Hamill said. "After the first year, one of our campers looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'I've found the place where I belong.' To know that skating can make a difference in someone's life, to give them incentive to get up and go to the rink, that's what it's all about for me."

Registration is open at dorothyhamill.com.

Skating with a hockey player

After a stellar eligible career, 2010 Olympian Amanda Evora is skating into the world of professional reality TV competition. She'll be competing in the fourth season of Battle of the Blades, shown on the CBC network in Canada.

Evora told us that Sandra Bezic contacted her to see if she was interested in appearing on the show. She found out that she had been cast in June.

"I've known all summer, but I couldn't say anything until they announced it today," she told us on Wednesday.

Evora says the show will premiere on Sept. 22, which will be when the partnerships are announced. All eight figure skater-hockey player pairs will perform on the first two shows. Kurt Browning, Jamie Salé and P.J. Stock will be the judges, and the first elimination will be on Oct. 6.

"It's going to be good to have the opportunity to perform again," Evora said. "We've been training for the last two weeks. Next week, we start on production, and get to the rink where the studio is, and get used to the lights."

The figure skaters, who include Jessica Dubé, Marcy Hinzmann and Sinead Kerr, will have to adjust, as they get lifted by hockey players who may never have worn figure skates before.

Evora says she's not worried.

"We have such a great support group," she said. "We have a choreographer, and there are pairs coaches around to assist. They show the lift so that the hockey player can visualize it.

"The hockey players put their trust in us, which allows us to put our trust in them."

Evora also mentioned that Hinzmann and her Battle season three partner, Todd Simpson, have just gotten engaged.

Evora stepped away from competitive skating in April 2012. Her first goal was to finish college, which she did last August. Since then, she has been working part time in Sarasota, Fla., in the mornings and teaching skating in the afternoons. Evora assists pairs coaches Jim Peterson and Lyndon Johnston with their higher-level students, and she has some younger students of her own. She's excited to be back in front of an audience on her own.

"It's been a long time since I've performed, and it's great to be back on my skates and be able to do pairs skating again," she said. "I'm very excited about it. I'm hoping that people can see it. People in the U.S. can watch online, and people in Canada can watch live. Please vote for me!"

Skating in the YAS final

The MK Young Artists' Showcase 4 choreography competition is complete, except for the final. The two finalists in the Champions division are Zabato Bebe and Eliot Halverson. Yebin Mok finished in third pace, and YAS founder Audrey Weisiger says she hopes Mok will also skate in the final.

The two Grassroots division finalists are Izzi Gorowsky and Allison Merges. Grassroots online winner Madeline Stammen got an offer to perform on a cruise ship and will be unable to compete in the show.

The final show will be performed live in front of an audience on Dec. 1 at 2:30 p.m., at the Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Washington, D.C. Michael Buckley will be the master of ceremonies, and Doug Webster, Michael Weiss and Starbuck will judge.

The Champions contestants will each choreograph a piece for Anna Madorsky, Madison Vinci, and Sinead Kerr and John Kerr, who will then perform the piece for the audience and judges without revealing which choreographer did which piece. The Grassroots contestants will work with Adam Blake and Kimmie Meissner. The contestants will also perform a second piece of their own choosing in the show. Ryan Bradley will perform in the show as a special guest.

The show will serve as a benefit for "Kids on Ice," a community skating program which offers free lessons and use of equipment to children aged 5 to 18. Raffle tickets for a "Skate with the Stars" event will raise funds for the program, and Weisiger says any net proceeds from the show will also benefit "Kids on Ice."

"Skating as a competitive sport is out of reach for most inner-city kids, but exposing them to artistry could inspire them to want to skate for fun and create movement to music," Weisiger said.

Beauty pageant

Kristin Korda, who competed in the 2014 Miss America pageant last weekend as Miss Maine, has a figure skating connection: Her brother is former ice dancer Andrew Korda. Andrew was the 2007 U.S. international champion and 2008 U.S. novice bronze medalist with partner Una Donegan. Recently, he was the 2013 U.S. senior gold dance champion with the Boston University collegiate team.

Andrew said his whole family was in Atlantic City to cheer Kristin on.

"It was amazing," he said. "It was the same feeling as going to your first nationals. You're surrounded by the best of the best and all the excitement. It was the same amount of stress and nervousness, and I wasn't even competing."

Kristin, a vocal performance student at the Berklee College of Music, took Basic Skills classes as a child. Although she did not make the semifinals of Miss America, she was recognized during the live TV show Sunday night for winning a talent award.

By the way, Andrew skated with 2004 U.S. dance bronze medalist Loren Galler Rabinowitz in exhibitions after she was crowned Miss Massachusetts in 2011, so he knows all about beauty queens.

Back soon,
Sarah and Drew
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