CEDAR PARK, Texas – They come in different shapes, sizes and skill levels, but they all have a similar dream.
“I want to go to the Olympics someday, ” said skater Natalie Stead.
To get there, she traveled from her home in Denver to Cedar Park to compete in the U. S. Figure Skating National Qualifying event.
The Crossover sports complex is hosting among the last qualifiers of the season with 300 skaters signed up to take the ice over the weekend.
“They are all trying to make it to Sectionals, which is the next step before you make it to Nationals, ” said Cindy Chapa, with the Austin Figure Skating Club.
Chapa believes this event is also a big moment for the sport in Central Texas. “We didn’t expect it to be this big. So , we are very happy, ” she stated
Chapa’s son Michael is among the notable competitors as he is the reigning National Junior Collegiate Champion. The Cedar Park Qualifier is a critical skate on his journey to Nationals.
“We’ve just got to put out everything we can, every day, and so it’s pretty important. But I try to bring it back down and not get too nervous, ” said Michael Chapa.
The competition at The Crossover wraps up Sunday afternoon. It’s open to the public and admission is free. Nationals is scheduled for January.
The skaters are not the only ones being judged, the spotlight is also on the venue.
“It is, we really have a big opportunity to put Austin on the map for figure skating competitions, ” said Peter Biver, the Figure Skating Director at The Crossover.
Biver believes the site, with the HEB Center across the highway, makes for a competitive venue.
“We are being looked at plus being considered for future and national level events and possibly even international, inch said Biver.
Surya Bonaly knows her ice, and not just because she is a skate coach. “Usually, we like to stick to the West Coast, and now I think it’s great, ” she said.
Bonaly is the 9-time national champion of France, has three World silver medals, and is a 5-time European Champion. She is also the only Olympic figure skater in order to land a backflip on one blade.
“The complex is perfect for practices, it is really, really, good and next door with the Big Arena for National Championships, it will be wonderful, inches said Bonaly.
Like the dream of each skater, turning this ice into gold still requires some work.