For the first time since they began skating together, there was no gold medal at the end of the winter for Jonah Barrett and Elli Kopmar.
Their first season together ended with pairs gold in the intermediate division of the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Their second ended with gold in the novice division at the 2016 U.S. Championships. But the silver medals Barrett and Kopmar earned in January at the 2017 Championships weighed heavier than any of those awards for finishing first.
They had moved up to the junior level without much of a hitch. Success, they learned, wouldn’t be fleeting.
“That’s the biggest accomplishment to date,” Barrett said. “Novice to junior is known for being a really big jump in terms of elements you need to perform and difficulty of the programs.”
Barrett and Kopmar will wrap up their 2016-17 figure skating season this weekend at their home rink in Ellenton when they take to the ice for the first time since the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex will play host to the figure skating portion of the Sunshine State Games spring festival from Friday through Sunday with divisions ranging from pre-juvenile all the way through adult masters. Barrett and Kopmar will first take the ice Friday at 5:05 p.m. for the junior pairs short program.
I think that’s the biggest accomplishment to date. Novice to junior is known for being a really big jump.
Jonah Barrett, Ellenton figure skater
As the pair nears the beginning of their fourth season together and final one before Barrett will turn 21 and force the team to make the leap to the senior circuit, Friday will serve as a tune-up for Barrett and Kopmar’s second and final pass through a junior season.
They’ve learned they have the ability to compete at the highest level. The 2017-18 season, which officially begins July 1, will become about polish.
“We have pretty much all the elements from last year,” Kopmar said. “This year is just focusing on crossovers and the component side.”
Barrett and Kopmar’s status as one of the best non-senior teams in the nation happened quickly. Neither Barrett, who is 20, nor Kopmar, 13, had skated as part of a pairs team before they came to the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club ahead of the 2014-15 season. Kopmar was a young, promising singles skater in Seattle with no idea she wanted to pursue doubles. Barrett, who is originally from Maryland, had been skating at the intermediate level and wanted a change of pace.
Barrett was the first to come to Florida, knowing Ellenton Ice and Sports is one of the best places to go to transition from singles to pairs. About a year later, Kopmar had done a single tryout for a pairs team in Seattle and realized skating with a partner actually intrigued her more. A coach suggested she look into Ellenton.
11Gold medals Jonah Barrett and Elli Kopmar have won since pairing together for the 2014-15 figure skating season. They’ve won novice and intermediate titles at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
By the end of their first season together, Kopmar and Barrett had become the best intermediate team in the country.
“We partnered up with that experience under our belt and I think that that’s another thing that really helped us to succeed in the pairs discipline,” Barrett said. “We have a really good relationship together.”
The timing for the Sunshine State Games works well for Kopmar and Barrett, sliding in as almost a preseason event before they make a run at another national gold medal.
This weekend will be a chance to get a sense of where they stand entering their final season as a junior pair. During the next few months, the true grind will begin.
“We’re excited to get our programs out there — or one of our programs out there. Get some feedback from the judges,” Barrett said. “We’ve been pretty busy.”
Sunshine State Games schedule
Figure Skating, Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Figure Skating, Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Canoe/Kayak Marathon, Fort Hamer Rowing Facility, Parrish, 9:30 a.m.
Rugby, G.T. Bray Recreation Center, Bradenton, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Figure Skating, Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 8:45 a.m. to 3:15