Ellenton-trained skaters Detroit-bound dreaming of '18 Olympics

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 15, 2013 

ELLENTON -- If their dreams come true, five 11- to 14-year-old girls, now ice skating just about every waking moment at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They say they envision ascending the podium in South Korea with the national anthem playing as medals are draped around their necks.

Those dreams are about to be tested in reality.

The five young athletes are going to the Skate Detroit competition beginning July 22 to test their skills against some of the best skaters in the United States and Canada. The local five include Lakewood Ranch's Kylie Beyer, 14; Myakka City's Tambra Wenger, 12; Waterlefe's Kathryn Currie, 12; Parrish's Dallas Ward, 12; and Sarasota's Ariel Gillett, 11,

"No one knows what is inside them," said Ellenton ice skating co-Coach Lyndon Johnston. "So, they all have the chance to do great things. It depends on how they grow and improve over the coming years. The 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is too soon, but after that, we shall see."

Best friends on and off the ice, the young athletes cheer for each other as hard as they compete against each other. Besides training from 7:15 a.m. to about 2 p.m. just about every day, all are ambitious students, articulate about their sport and willing to sacrifice for it, which means limited pizza, cola and candy.

They also nurse the bruises that come from learning new ice-skating jumps, which

include triples, doubles, toe loops, loops, flips, Salchows, Axels and Lutzs.

Triple, double and quad jumps refer to how many times the skater turns in the air during the jump.

Kylie, who began skating at age 3, will be a ninth-grader at Lakewood Ranch High School in the fall.

"I see myself at the top of the podium, I hear the national anthem and I am thinking, 'I have really done it,'" Kylie said of her Olympic dream.

"Kylie is a fighter," Johnston said. "This is her first year at the intermediate level after being a juvenile. Kylie is starting to learn how to do two different triple jumps and a double Axel, which the top girls in this class are doing."

Kylie likes to read and draw and her favorite TV show is "Supernatural." Her most recent read is "Warriors" by Erin Hunter.

"Kylie's spins and footwork have gotten good with the help of her spin Coach Dianne Kakeuchi," said Kylie's father, Mark Beyer.

The charismatic Dallas, who started skating at age 2, is the official comedienne and actress of the group. She likes to wear neon colors.

"Skating is wonderfuluntil you fall, then you feellike a hard rock," Dallas said.

Her father, Brad, is a Dallas Cowboys fan, which explains the skater's first name. Her middle name, Haley, is in honor of former Cowboys star Charles Haley.

Dallas loves the TV show "Pretty Little Liars," and her favorite food is steak.

Kathryn, of Waterlefe Golf and Country Club, began skating at age 8, and will attend Haile Middle School in the fall. She is known for her poise and grace, according to her coaches.

"When we skate, we are kind of in our own world," Kathryn said.

"Kathryn is a juvenile lady who could have a very, very good season," Johnson said.

Tambra, coached by Johnston's co-coach Jim Peterson, began skating at age 4. She is a home-schooled student entering the seventh grade. Her jumps and intelligence when it comes to the art and science of her sport are strong points, her coaches said.

"Figure skating makes me feel graceful," Tambra said. "I like the feeling when my skate blade touches the ice."

When not skating, Tambra likes to watch "Pretty Little Liars," and, for comfort food, it's definitely "mac and cheese," said her mom, Lisa Wegner.

"When she does get to the Olympic podium we will be extremely proud," Lisa Wegner said. "She has worked so hard to get where she is now."

Ariel, a Sarasota home schooler who began skating at age 6, is going into the sixth grade. She said figure skating has given her a super power.

"It makes me feel as if I am flying," Ariel said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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