Some of the young skaters from the Ziehnert Skating School were a little nervous about competing against 105 teams from 24 states and three foreign countries.
Coach Glenn Ziehnert brought just 21 students to skate against teams carrying 120, but still, they finished 18th of 105 at the 2014 Ice Skating Institute World Recreational Team Championships in Marlborough, Mass.
The competition stretched from July 28 through Aug. 2, and featured American teams from as far south as Florida and as far west as Hawaii. Eight international teams came from China, the Philippines and Qatar. More than 1,400 skaters took the ice.
Ziehnert said he thought his young students were a little distracted and nervous, especially about facing teams from overseas, until one of the foreign skaters reached out.
“What was nice, though, was there was a little girl from China who went right up to one of my little girls — she didn’t speak English — she just handed her this pin, to trade for our pin,” Ziehnert said. “They were so excited about that kind of thing, that then they were running around saying, ‘I competed against a girl from China,’ or ‘I beat them,’ or ‘I didn’t beat them,’ or whatever happened.”
Each of the 21 Ziehnert Skating School competitors earned at least one of the medals awarded for finishing in the top six of their age and skill division. They hauled in 17 first-place finishes, 13 second-place finishes and six third-place finishes, along with multiple fourths, fifths and sixths.
“We’ve been working so hard since January just to prepare for this competition,” Ziehnert said. “I’ve been working with them on their technique and their programs to get them ready, and it was almost second nature for them. They had been so well-practiced at home that they pretty much all skated their programs the best they could. I kept telling them to just focus on what they do at home, to pretend it’s a practice session.”
The skaters competing for Ziehnert Skating School at the competition, ranging in age from 6 to 16, were Akshi Patil, Allison Hong, Emma Burick, Emily Carlson, Cynthia Zhang, Christina Cheng, Catherine Cheng, Michelle Puzulis, Minji Kim, Ashlyn Chartier, Bethany Hayes, Sierra Susko, Elena Kaplan and Olivia Russell.
Ziehnert and assistants Jeanne Cousineau and Justin Morrow had guided the school through a good year of competitions, placing third at another ISI event in Lake Placid in January and winning a competition in Saratoga Springs. They have a couple of shows left this year, and they will use those to prepare for next year’s competition.
“I told everybody how pleased I was with them, and that all the hard work pays off,” Ziehnert said. “We had a little party at The Hockey Hut, and now we’re like, ‘OK, that’s over. Now, let’s start working for this next year.’ I want the kids to enjoy their skating, but also to look ahead to what’s next.”