Laci Skifter
Laci Skifter
"I started skating because it looked fun when I watched it," said figure skater Laci Skifter, daughter of Tim and Sue Skifter of Spring Valley, who will be skating at the Braemer skating competition in Edina, Minn., June 21 and 22 and also at the State Games of America National Championship in Hershey, Pa., a national competition held July 31 through Aug. 4.

Until then, she's busy practicing her glide, glide, swizzle, glide, accompanied by the music of Kevin Mongelli, a college acquaintance of her mother's from Tampa, Fla., whose compositions and arrangements suit the young skater's flowing routines well.

Laci attends Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) and is entering the fourth grade in the fall, so her parents encourage her to explore any extracurricular activities in which she takes an interest since she has a flexible school schedule. Having seen a performance at an area ice rink, she was so fascinated by figure skating that Sue and Tim took the leap into a "whole different world," Sue noted, one of grace, discipline and practice, practice, practice.

She started skating in the fall of 2011, when she was 7. "We're learning the ins and outs of it, the rules and more," said Sue. "We had to find a skating coach because if she wanted to compete, you can't compete without a coach, and the coach recommended that she take ballet, so then, she started taking dance."

Laci started dancing that same fall at Dance Connection Dance Studio in Rochester under the direction of Tanya Williams, beginning with tap and ballet and adding jazz to her repertoire just this past year. She performed in two major recitals, building skills that she incorporates into her figure skating coached by professional U.S. figure skating coach Mandy Wagner, who specializes in figure skating, moves in the field, off-ice classes and power skating.

Laci is a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) and is learning as part of basic skills program of the Rochester Figure Skating Club (RFSC). She's performed in the last two annual figure skating shows held at the Rochester Rec Center, and also competed locally at the Hiawathaland Open Figure Skating Competition, taking first place for her basic program with music in February 2012.

Sue related that her daughter takes group and private lessons once a week each and also skates in both private and group practice sessions, keeping the family car on the road to and from Rochester and the family ensconced in skating culture. "If we can make it, we're at the rink...unless the weather's so bad that we can't get there. It's a whole other culture, very specific. They're in groups but doing their own thing. Laci has a diagram of her routine that she brings to her coach each practice, and the coach adds something at each practice date. She's on the ice for a minute and 10 seconds when she performs...it all happens so fast. She practices for weeks and weeks, and it culminates in one minute and 10 seconds on the ice."

Hours of practice led Laci to compete at the Braemer competition in Edina and to earn second place in short program while competing at the Star of the North Games last June, medaling in the event and qualifying to compete at the 2013 State Games of America National Championship. For both performances, she'll be entered in the Basic 3 program event with music, and judged on "a number of factors, including technical merit and presentation" by judges certified by the USFSA.

Fear and nervousness don't register with her during the few moments she's on the ice - in front of hundreds of spectators - as, Sue stated, "She's the performer in the family. She's kind of fearless, spinning and jumping. She's starting to get into jumping, and it scares me, but she's a lot more resilient."

The skater agreed, "I'm not nervous. I'm excited about the State Games...I like watching the other skaters, seeing stuff I can't do but things I can try when I see it."

Of course, that's Laci. No qualms about anything. Not only does she dance and figure skate, she's also very busy taking piano lessons, bowling on the youth league at Striker's Lanes in Stewartville, shooting on the Fillmore County 4-H Shooting Sports and Wildlife Program's team - shooting her Daisy competition BB gun and bow and arrow, and has taken golf and tennis as well. Sue observed, "She's always ready to dance, skate, bowl, run, draw, you name it."

And she's ready to hit the road with her mom -traveling just with her mom - to see Lake Michigan, Hershey, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, national parks of West Virginia, and finally, her grandma and grandpa's house in Tennessee. And at the State Games of America, she gets to do one thing "that's a no-no at home...wear makeup."

The 9-year-old has her dreams before her as she laces her skates and prepares to compete at the State Games of America. "I want to be a skater or a skating coach. It feels cool when my blades are on the ice."

For more information on the Rochester Figure Skating Club, log onto the RFSC website at www.rochesterfsc.org.