Theater on Ice team places fourth in nationals

What do you get the first time you invite figure skaters of varying skill levels and ages to team up for a national competition?

Theater on ice.jpg
Members of the Rochester Figure Skating Club's Theatre on Ice team perform at the national championships in Pelham, Ala., in early July. The group finished fourth out of 22 teams.

What do you get the first time you invite figure skaters of varying skill levels and ages to team up for a national competition?

If you're coaches Jamie Santee and Kristina Orlova of the Rochester Figure Skating Club, you get a fourth-place finish — and a desire to do even better next year.

Santee, who grew up on skates, performed for Disney on Ice and has coached in Rochester for 10 years, took 20 skaters to the ninth annual Theatre on Ice nationals in Pelham, Ala., from June 30 through July 3. Out of 22 teams in their division, the Rochester squad placed third in the choreographic exercise, then followed that up by finishing sixth in the freeskate competition, for a fourth-place finish overall.

"That was shocking to us," Santee said. "We had no expectations going in, given that we had never been to an event like this before. We had an amazing group of kids, and the trip couldn't have gone better."

The age range on the Rochester team was 10-18, and the skill levels varied just as widely.


"It was an open event, so it didn't matter whether you could do a single jump or a triple jump," Santee said. "We have kids who have been skating for just a few years and are just starting to come into the whole competitive scene, and also veterans who have been at it for 15 years, so we wanted to show off the strengths of each skater while minimizing their weaknesses."

As first-timers, Santee said one aspect of the competition caught the team by surprise. "The other teams' costumes were very elaborate," she said. "We didn't know what to expect, and we went in with a very low, manageable budget, with parents sewing the dresses. It was kind of a team effort to make the signs and everything. I was very proud of the collective effort, and we skated great in both programs, but we were 'outflashed' in our second program."

All of the teams that finished ahead of Rochester had competed previously in the national competition.

"One team flies people in from different states, with hundreds of kids auditioning, and only a select few get to be on their team," Santee said. "We're definitely not in that position here in Rochester."

In total, 71 teams and 1,260 skaters participated in the event, which is a qualifier for the international Nation's Cup, which typically is held in Europe.

"We had such a great time, and now I know what direction we need to go and what we need to go to continue to move forward," Santee said. "I'm excited about it. "

The skaters on this year's team were Madelaine Hugo, Bridgid Hugo, Anastasia Griggs, Alexarae Sackett, Tori Kulack, Sarah Santee, Jessie Santee, Phyllis Schram, Taylor Haun, Hannah Engle, Soni Shah, Kendra Johnson, Hanna Krabbenhoft, Alaina Rietmann, Malory Studor, Maggie Anderson, Sophia McPherson, Isabelle Desens, Payton Kappler, Isabella Malugani, Maddie Freetly and Emma Luo.

What To Read Next
Get Local