The first Pan American Championship of Figure Clubs was held at Skate Reflections in Kissimmee, Florida from January 19th through the 22nd. This was a successful event as well a great learning and social experience for any skater, coach, judge or club that participated. This contest provided a World Championship-like training and competitive environment for roller figure, dance and freestyle skaters of all ages. Participating countries included the United States, Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Guatamala, the Dominican Republic, Peurto Rico, Cuba and Paraguay.
Most USA Roller Sports coaches found that requirements were much higher than the content levels that our skaters are used to at domestic events - especially the younger kids. I asked Danny Brown, one of the official organizers and owner of the Rollhaven Skating Centers, about the content levels when we were considering the trip, and he explained that some requirements were actually lowered to get them closer to our domestic event requirements. My Juvenile Boy, Jayanthesh Kalmat, and my Freshman Girl, Kaylee Brogan, both needed to extend their freestyle program lengths and did extra lessons to add short programs for their singles events. The Cadet (like Freshman) singles requirements were exactly the same as those for our Junior World Class skaters. And the Mini-Infantile (similar to Primary and Juvenile) had Axel requirements, not options. All figure events (except our domestic adult events) had a real loop (not circle loop) included in the figure mix. Leaving out loop training was not an option for any compulsory figure participants at this event.
Training segments were nice and long, like at a world championship. I could see my skaters developing right in front of my eyes under the influence of the hardworking skaters from the South American countries. Everyone practiced aggressively, but each skater and coach was fair about sharing the floor, the circles and the loops, depending on the training segment. All of the coaches worked together during these sessions to make sure that every skater's workout time was maximized.
The quality of skating in all of the competitions was good. The little kids were fun to watch, because they skated as seriously and as aggressively as the big kids. The teams were strong and loud, and their cheers of support - for everyone, not just their own - kept adrenaline levels high during each skating performance. The bleachers were filled, and there was barely standing room for most events. I think the youngest skaters, especially the girls freestyle and figures, impressed me the most. But my guess is that our domestic adult dance events caught the eye of many of the skaters from other countries.
There was fun built in, too. The athletes enjoyed a social skate before training and events began. It is amazing how much you can communicate with someone whose language you don't speak. The opening ceremony and show included a parade of clubs/countries with all participating national flags on display along with many of the skaters who represented them. The national anthem for each Gold Medalist was played during each award ceremony, too. Watching the families and coaches networking between training sessions and events was great. My kids and parents came home with new friends from other countries in the Americas, and so did I. This event was inspiring for many young skaters.
The first Pan American Championships of Clubs of figure skating was organized by the Confederacion Panamericana de Roller Sports (CPRS), USA Roller Sports (USARS) and sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS), CPRS and USARS.