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Lake Placid adult skaters going strong

April 18, 2018
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Activity has continued well into April for Skating Club of Lake Placid members, with several skaters participating in the Adult National Figure Skating Championships and welcoming back Ciana Cerruti, who just competed in the World Synchronized Skating Championships.

Adult skating has been a growing part of figure skating since 1995, and approximately 450 adult skaters compete in the annual National Championships. Adult skaters bring a unique energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun to the sport. This year's Adult Nationals took place over several days in a fun and supportive environment, ending with a party where skaters from throughout the United States celebrated their achievements and met other adult skaters.

The 2018 Nationals was hosted April 10-14 by the Yarmouth Ice Club in Marlborough, Massachusetts and included Skating Club of Lake Placid members Maggie Atkins, James Gan, Karen Kan, Gina Jadwisiak and David Kobe among its competitors.

Article Photos

Skating Club of Lake Placid skaters and coaches gather for a photo during the Adult National Figure Skating Championships in Marlborough, Massachusetts. From left are Maggie Atkins, Robin Miller, Gina Jadwisiak, David Kobe, Mimi Wacholder, Karen Kan and James Gann. 
(Provided photo)

Atkins, 85, was previously a dancer, earning several medals as she rose through the ranks. In 1949, she was a ballet dancer on the stage when she decided to learn to skate after seeing skaters performing in an ice show.

At 18, she rented skates and began learning to skate at home in Blackpool, England. She skated in her first ice show in 1951, and has been skating ever since.

In 1969, Atkins moved from England to Boston so her husband Maxwell could work as a refrigeration engineer, developing Boston University's ice rink. In 1970, he also helped install the ice sheet at the Cape Cod Coliseum (where the South Yarmouth Skating Club, now the Yarmouth Ice Club originated), and Atkins got skating time in as Cubby Bear, the mascot for the Cape Cod Cubs hockey team. It's fitting that Atkins is competing near there at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, and that the competition was hosted by the Yarmouth Ice Club.

Atkins skates primarily with the Skating Club of Lake Placid Coffee Club, an adult skating group that meets weekly during the season for several hours of ice time and lessons.

Atkins placed second in the Silver Light Entertainment V event, where skaters are judged by their ability to "uplift" and "entertain" the audience, and can use props or scenery to convey the story they wish to portray. Wearing a bright red shirt and fascinator and skating to "Enjoy Yourself It's Later than you Think," by Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, Atkins communicated a meaningful message for adult skaters.

"My performance was the best I could do, though one always feels one can do better," Atkins said. "I use a prop umbrella with the words 'It's not the age. It's the attitude.' I think that says it all.

"(I'm) pleased to say I have a silver medal, a Skate Forever Young medal and the Yvonne M Dowling award for being the oldest competitor."

The SCLP's resident pairs and ice dancer couples Gina Jadwisiak and David Kobe, and Karen Kan and James Gann, represented proudly in several events.

Both are couples on and off the ice, and skate together in singles, dance and ice dance. Jadwisiak and Kobe skate singles but also ice dance, while Kan and Gann partake in singles, pairs and ice dance together.

They all came to the sport in different ways, but both Gann and Kobe started skating at the urging of their significant others. Gann was previously an inline skater, and started figure skating in 2005 because of Kan's interest in the sport.

Kobe started skating after marrying Jadwisiak, with her encouragement. He is now also the President of the Skating Club of Lake Placid.

"We had taken dance lessons for our wedding reception and enjoyed it, (so) I said 'if you like this, learn to skate and we can ice dance,'" said Jadwisiak, who started skating in college for extra credits and continued long after. "I was shocked when he did (he also had a love of hockey and wanted to play that too)."

Both Jadwisiak and Kobe are now veterans of Adult National competition, with Jadwisiak participating in 17 prior Championships, which included freestyle and interpretive competition before dance. Jadwisiak and Kobe have competed in 15 Championships together.

Jadwisiak and Kobe finished in second place in the Adult Pre-Gold Dance event, which included two compulsory dances, the Killian and Rocker Foxtrot, and a free dance to "Hallelujah."

"I love our free dance; I chose the Andy Grammar piece of music because it speaks of how I feel about David. It makes me tear up even now," Jadwisiak said. "I finally found my hallelujah, life is good right about now."

Overall, they had mixed feelings about their performance in the event, but felt it went better than previous Championships.

"We skated our free dance well; we won that and the Killian pattern dance round," Jadwisiak said. "Problems with our Rocker foxtrot causes us to lose first place by .52 points, (which was) a little sad. We had a personal best 20.7 on the free dance and David's goal was to pass 20 (points), much better than our performance two years ago."

Jadwisiak and Kobe hope to compete again at next year's Adult Nationals.

Although Kan and Gann did not compete together in an event this year, they supported each other in individual competitions.

Originally from Canada, Kan started skating in 1995 because she was "one of the few Canadians who couldn't skate," and was initially "the worst skater in her class."

She persevered, and after taking a break in 2000 due to health concerns, went on to win several Adult National medals, including the 2008 Adult Nationals in Lake Placid, where she and Gann won first in the Silver Pairs event.

After a 10-year break from Adult National competition, both Kan and Gann met their goals for their events. Gann took gold in the Adult Silver event.

"My goal was to give an awesome performance and focus on my own skate rather than on my competitors," Gann said. "I wanted to win gold but didn't make that my main goal since that makes me too nervous. Still, I accomplished all my goals for this competition."

Kan earned a pewter medal in the Adult Bronze Solo Dance division, skating to "Sway" by the Pussycat Dolls, and a bronze medal in Silver Light Entertainment III. She skated in a straightjacket for the first part of the program to "Crazy" by Patsy Cline, portraying a journey from depression to happiness to end in an illuminated tutu skating to "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld.

"To skate two programs, including one meant to be funny, which I don't usually do, was a big stretch for me," Kan said. "I wanted to entertain, give the audience that 'wow,' and stay present, grateful and in the moment. Overall, I'm really happy with my performances, especially since I ended up on the podium (for Solo Dance) next to someone who is a higher level than me and half my age, that was an awesome accomplishment!"

Both Kan and Gann plan to skate at next year's Adult Nationals and Sectionals and start training for pairs competition again together. Kan hopes to train for freestyle competition and increase their level in ice dance so they are eligible to compete in free dances.

"We always hope Adult Nationals might be in Lake Placid next year to celebrate the 25th anniversary," Kan said.


Ciana Cerruti

While Adult Nationals was going on, Ciana Cerruti returned from the World Synchronized Championships in Stockholm, Sweden after competing with the Skyliners team. Cerruti was happy with the experience to compete on the team and felt good about the results.

"The venue at Ericsson's Globe was outstanding and skating against the best synchro teams in the world was a memorable opportunity," Cerruti said. "My favorite part of the experience was that we reached our goal of being in the top 10. I believe our ninth-place finish was fair. We skated well for our first time at worlds and have much to improve on for the new season."

Cerruti will train with the team this spring, and expects to hear about the 2018-2019 roster within the next month.

"I can't wait till the new season to set new goals, improve skills and travel to many new places," she said.

While the season will conclude at the end of April when the ice in the Olympic Center is removed for rink maintenance, skating will pick up again with the Summer Figure Skating Camp in mid-June.

Originated by famous coaches including Gus Lussi, the summer figure skating program brings excellent coaching, class opportunities, two competitions and plentiful ice time to Lake Placid. The summer also brings Saturday Night Ice Show series, in which camp participants can skate alongside guest star skaters. Past guests have included two-time Olympian and current skating commentator Johnny Weir and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist in the team event and current Dancing with the Stars competitor Mirai Nagasu.

For more information on Lake Placid figure skating programs, including the summer figure skating camp, visit their website at



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