Central Kenai Peninsula figure skaters set for regional competition

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2002

Three area figure skaters will look to break new ground for the Kenai Peninsula at the Northwest Pacific Regional Championship Oct. 10 through 12 in Great Falls, Mont.

Tory Coursen, 13, of Sterling; Stephanie Bishop, 13, of Sterling; and Jacob Shearer, 12, of Soldotna will skate at regions with the hopes of qualifying for the Junior Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y., in December.

Sherry Eddings, the coach of the three Denali Ice Club skaters, said that in her six years of coaching on the peninsula, skaters have went to regions before. However, those skaters went to regions skating at levels that were not eligible to go to the Junior Olympics.

Coursen skates at intermediate lady, Bishop skates at juvenile lady and Shearer skates at junior men, so all are eligible to go to the Junior Olympics.

"We've been to regions before, my group has, but not with hopes of qualifying for JOs," Eddings said. "This is the group of kids I started with. I call them my 'Batch of Babies.'

"It's taken five or six years to get them to the point where they can qualify for JOs."

The three skate year-round and are home schooled so they can skate often, sometimes up to three hours a day, five times a week.

The trio practices at the Soldotna Sports Center and the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility when those facilities have ice in, and goes to Anchorage to practice in the summer.

"Everybody has been training hard," Eddings said. "I'm really proud of them. It takes a lot of commitment."

In addition to training, the trio traveled to competitions in places like Portland, Ore., San Diego and Hawaii last year. Their performances at those competitions are what has Eddings thinking the three have a shot at the Junior Olympics.

Both Coursen and Bishop will have to get in the top six of their qualifying groups, then get in the top four in the final round to advance to the Junior Olympics.

Meanwhile, Shearer has only six boys at his level, so he must get in the top four to make the Junior Olympics.

At the levels the skaters are at, they currently can't get to the U.S. Nationals, which is the competition seen on television.

In order to have a chance to qualify for U.S. Nationals, skaters must be at the novice, junior or senior level.

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