Revolutions Skating Club Inspires and Trains Local Youth
“Seeing these skaters is inspiring!” says 14 year-old Sage Williams.
There’s nothing more thrilling than watching one of the world’s best athletes perform.
This holiday season brings such an opportunity with the Aspen Ice Spectacular on December 17th, a show that draws world-class figure skaters from around the world. This year’s headliners include Olympian and former Basalt resident Jeremy Abbott along with 2016 World Silver Medalist Ashley Wagner.
The Revolutions Skating Club, based in Aspen, sponsors the show both to entertain and inspire. More than 50 local Revolutions Club skaters will join Olympians and pros to demonstrate their talent through solo performances and in ensemble pieces.
The nonprofit Revolutions Skating Club enables young skaters to train year-round at the Aspen Recreation Center and the Aspen Ice Garden. Revolutions is officially recognized by the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Its four coaches, members of both U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association, are Peggy Behr, Grace Hancock, Michelle Hocknell and Taline Isberian.
Producing an ice skating show was the dream of coach Peggy Behr, who performed for years with Disney on Ice, and who was joined by her former skating student, Olympian Jeremy Abbott. The show was a long time in the making. “When I arrived in Aspen in 1993, I wanted to produce a show with John Denver performing live. Before I could make it a reality, he tragically passed. I then spent time raising my children,” said Behr.
About five years ago, discussions with Jeremy Abbott revived Behr’s dream.
In 2013, Behr and Abbott made the dream a reality by producing the first show, then called Stars on Aspen Ice. Abbott had launched his figure skating career here in the Roaring Fork Valley; his family hails from Basalt and Aspen. Behr coached Abbott from 1993 to 2002. She then choreographed Abbott’s programs through 2006.
Abbott became a four-time U.S. National Champion (2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014). He recently represented the U.S. at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where he placed ninth. Then, in the 2014 Olympics, he won a bronze medal in the team event.
Behr recalls, “In Aspen in 1993, the City funded a Wintersköl skating show that brought in skaters, including Dorothy Hamill and Robin Cousins, which is why Jeremy started skating. With all the budget cuts, the show stopped. But I wanted to bring back that level of skating to inspire the young skaters and for the entire community to enjoy.”
Each year since 2012, Abbott has been instrumental in bringing fellow elite competitors and skating friends to his hometown to celebrate the holidays and to perform. Abbott’s father passed away two years ago from Parkinson’s disease, and Abbott has chosen this show as a way to help fight for a cure. Proceeds from the show and its silent auction support the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation.
This year, 2016 World Silver Medalist Wagner is the featured soloist. She is joined by two-time Japanese Champion, Olympian and World Champion Yuka Sato; Olympic Silver Medalist and World Champion Rosalynn Sumners; Freestyle medalist Kelly Smith, and U.S. Pairs champions Ashley Cain and Timothy Leduc.
Of the young Revolutions Club skaters performing in the show, many hail from the mid-valley. Coaches Michelle Hocknell and Taline Isberian live in Basalt. Young ‘Bonedalians Sage Williams, Lane Erickson will perform. They will be joined by Calla Diemer, Chloe Axelman, and Casey and Maddie Hocknell, who are from Basalt.
Revolutions coach Behr says, “I know that it is an amazing experience for the Revolutions skaters to skate alongside these amazing superstar skaters.”
Coach Michelle Hocknell agrees. “It’s so great for our skaters to realize that they too can accomplish great things with their skating! I think they also realize… how hard these [star] skaters work at their sport. They are great role models for our younger skaters, both as people and as skaters. It is fun for the young skaters to feel connected to the skaters that they will be seeing on television in January at our National Championships.”
Revolutions skater Sage Williams agrees. “Attending the show and meeting the skaters afterward for autographs has motivated me in my own skating.”
Tickets for the December 17th Aspen Ice Spectacular may be purchased online at WheelerOperaHouse.com. This year there will be just one featured performance, so purchasing tickets early is advised.
Anyone interested in pursuing figure skating can contact the Revolutions Skating Club at RevolutionsSC.com or phone coach Michelle Hocknell at 970.618.6140 to get in on the spin!