U.S. Figure Skating Online will feature a different club-related story every couple weeks in the Club Spotlight.
The Skating Club of New Hartford in New Hartford, N.Y. is proud of their January Mohawk Valley Classic Competition, but it is one event in that competition, The Meyda Tiffany Championship Showcase that brings skaters from all over to take part in this annual event.
"The showcase event has always been one of our most popular events with skaters and spectators alike," competition co-chair Rosella Pandolfo said. "We have been extremely fortunate to have our Showcase event sponsored by Meyda Tiffany Lighting. They donate beautiful and unique lamps that are awarded to the overall first place and second place finishers. The unique trophies are in my opinion one of the reasons the event is so popular."
The club also uses local "celebrity" judges for the event instead of U.S. Figure Skating judges. The skaters perform without regard to traditional skating rules. Most of the judges do not have any previous figure skating knowledge. The performances are judged purely on entertainment value.
"This takes the pressure off and allows the skaters to just have fun," Pandolfo said.
The showcase performance can be anything the skater would like it to be. The costumes vary from the most elaborate makeup and props to no makeup and props.
"If you ask a skater what they like about showcase they inevitably say it is all about having fun, but here is a lot of hard work that goes into preparing their showcase," Pandolfo said.
The Skating Club of New Hartford received formal delegation in 1980 starting with 60 members according to board treasurer and U.S. Figure skating judge Liz Hotvedt.
"We currently have 174 basic skills members and 45 freestyle members. We offer three hours of Basic Skills lessons and 12 hours of freestyle ice weekly during the fall/winter session."
The club hosted its first competition in 1983 and held the 21st Skating Club of New Hartford competition in 2004.
"In 2004 we modified the competition, changed the name and introduced the Meyda Tiffany Championship Showcase event and held the first Mohawk Valley Classic that November," Hotvedt said.
The Showcase event also includes three People's Choice Awards sponsored by local businesses.
"This provides the spectator the ability to vote for their favorite showcase performance in three categories, most humorous, most artistic and best costume," Pandolfo said.
Pandolfo said the Mohawk Valley Classic is especially popular with local skaters.
"This is an opportunity for the skater to skate for their families without having to travel," she said. "We do not charge an admissions fee; anyone can come and go as they please throughout the day with no cost involved. A family member, grandparents, aunts and uncles get the chance to see their skater compete without having to travel."
Pandolfo is also grateful for the numerous community donations, especially for the popular concession stand.
"There is no shortage of food and the variety is amazing. There is a lot of local fare."
Making the competition happen is definitely a group effort, according to Pandolfo.
"The many donations from the community, the support of the New Hartford Recreation Center rink staff and of course the volunteers from the Skating Club of New Hartford. Planning starts in the summer and the work continues until the very end of the competition," Pandolfo said.
Skater Jessica Martin performs in Showcase as Tinkerbell (courtesy of the Skating Club of New Hartford)
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