Sioux Falls Figure Skating Club starts new year with big addition

For two weeks, all eyes were on the Winter Olympics in South Korea and all the athletes who have dedicated their lives to their sport. Every four years, figure skating is one of the most popular sports among spectators.

Nobody knows that more than members and leaders of the Sioux Falls Figure Skating Club.

Thanks to some recent changes and new additions, the Winter Olympics could someday be a reality for skaters from right here at home.

Inside the Scheel's Ice Plex, you can feel the passion these skaters have for hitting the ice.

"I started skating back when I was 5 or 6 with my family at Drake Springs," Michelle Carlson said. She's the Sioux Falls Figure Skating Club President and has been around the program for three decades.

"My daughter skates. I help run the program. It's been fun to see where the skating club has come, back in its infancy to now where we have so many opportunities for skaters in Sioux Falls," Carlson said

At the beginning of 2018, the Sioux Falls club added the official 'United States Figure Skating' (USFS) curriculum to turn up the competition.

"USFS is the governing body of figure skating. The girls who go to the Olympics, that's what they compete under, that's what they test under, that's how they go through the program," Carlson said.

For years. 'Ice Skating Institute' (ISI) was the only governing body setting the rules for competition.

"ISI grabs them, gets them involved. As they learn to skate more, they want to get more serious about it, they want to be a little more challenged. They decide they want to test and work through the levels of USFS and accomplish more things," Carlson said. "Having them both, we can reach so many levels of skaters whether it's recreational or more serious and try to accomplish bigger things."

One of the skaters is 11 year-old Sophia Andersen.

"It's definitely a challenge but it's a lot of fun," Sophia Andersen said.

She has set some pretty big goals.

"I'd like to get all my doubles by the end of next season so I can start working on triples," she said.

Ten year-old Brooklyn Bailey admits she's not afraid to fall.

"I just get back up and start skating," Brooklyn Bailey said.

"When you fall, you have to get back up and try again. Falling is part of the learning process. It means you've tried it and that's a wonderful thing. They'll succeed next time," Group and Private Lesson Coach Katie Luggar said.

Carlson said there's more to skating than working to compete in the Winter Olympic Games.

"They come out here because they love it, expressing themselves, learning the jumps, to spin.They're all self-motivated, such hard workers, out here to be the best skater they can be," Carlson said.

The addition of USFS won't lead to any major changes for three-to-five years. Now, Sioux Falls will be able to hold an official testing session for skaters to advance.

"Any girls who have ever had to test before had to travel to Rochester, Mankato, North Dakota or Minneapolis. We've added that, have judges coming. Skaters to test right here in Sioux Falls which is really exciting," Carlson said.

On or off the ice, the work to build this decades-old Sioux Falls program is only just beginning.

"We have a lot of work to do with our coaches. We have a responsibility to them to help train them, help get them what they need to be best they can be. Baby steps. We're going to make this happen at whatever level we can make it happen. Slowly but surely, It will change skating in the next ten years. It's already changed so much over the last thirty. It seems like the right direction to go," Carlson said.

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