Soldotna figure skater Jessica Turner gets good-luck hug from her mother, Kathy, before Tuesday's short program competition at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Photos by Roy Shapley
Kathy Turner first watched her daughter toddle around on ice skates when she was 3 years old, and over the 11 years since then has watched the young girl evolve into a graceful figure skater with dreams of one day entering the Olympics.
But while Turner wants to see her daughter’s dreams blossom, she does not want her daughter to ever become so set on succeeding that figure skating becomes stressful instead of a good time, she said.
“I just want her to have fun ... just go out there and smile like she always does,” Kathy said.
Her daughter, Jessica Turner, is the only peninsula figure skater on Team Alaska. Jessica and her family live in Soldotna while all of the other members of Team Alaska are from Fairbanks and Anchorage.
When her daughter entered the ice rink for her performance Tuesday, Kathy lifted a nervous hand to her face, but radiated with excitement.
“Yes!” she exclaimed as her daughter completed the first jump in her performance.
Jessica Turner performs her short program Tuesday.
Photos by Roy Shapley
Jessica leapt and spun her way through a nearly two-minute, high-energy performance, choreographed to Irish techno music.
By the time her daughter completed her performance, Kathy was almost as breathless as Jessica.
“Oh, my heart is beating so fast,” she said, holding her hand to her chest as Jessica skated off of the ice.
More than a dozen flowers rained down on the skating rink and a flock of flower girls wearing sparkly blue tops descended on the ice to collect them for the young skater.
“I was really scared to do it, but I did it,” Jessica said referring to the double loop combination, the most difficult maneuver in her performance.
Kathy squeezed her daughter after she left the ice and praised her on her performance.
The energy Kathy is willing to give to support her daughter’s talent appears limitless.
She has sewn many outfits for Jessica’s performances, gone to great lengths to optimize her access to area ice rinks and spent many days taking her to and from Anchorage, as often as twice a week in the summer when local rinks close. With the coming of the Arctic Winter Games, Kathy decided she wanted to dedicate even more energy.
Kathy is the figure skating sport chair for the Games, and as she eagerly awaited Jessica’s performance Tuesday, she also was rushing from one corner of the Soldotna Sports Center to another, making sure everything ran smoothly.
“I wanted everything to be perfect,” she said. “(And) it’s really fun being part of the Games.”
In addition to supporting Jessica and her talent as a figure skater, Kathy has three other children whose talents, such as dancing, she vigorously supports, as well.
“My life is shaped around the kids,” she said. “It’s important that the kids stay busy.”
What is most important to her in promoting Jessica’s skating career is that it brings her daughter happiness, she said.
“Some of the figure skaters’ moms just go off on these skaters and it’s sad,” she said. “Figure skating moms can be a little ornery.”
Kathy said she becomes nervous when she watches Jessica compete, but not because she has success on her mind.
“My stomach just turns because I would feel bad if she made a mistake because I know it would upset her,” she said.
Kathy said one of the biggest challenges for Jessica during the event is working with a new coach. Jessica met the Team Alaska coach for the first time just one day before her first performance in the Games.
“That’s been kind of hard, but she’ll be fine,” Kathy said.
She expressed confidence in her daughter’s abilities, but said she encourages Jessica to have fun with the sport, above all else.
And when her daughter becomes nervous, Kathy reminds her to relax and enjoy herself.
Skating has strengthened the bond between the two, as they share the anticipation and excitement over Jessica’s skating progress, Kathy said.
“She’d always like to make it to the Olympics,” she said. “(And) you never know.”
Kathy has supported Jessica through two regional competitions, the first step in qualifying for junior Olympics. Both of them are anticipating a return to regionals in the near future.
“It’s fun. I love watching her, and she loves it,” Kathy said. “If she didn’t like it so much, we wouldn’t be doing it.”
Jessica skated in the level two competition of the short figure skating even on Tuesday and placed sixth.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.