The public address announcer made the call for the one-minute warning during warmups at the Sunshine State Games, and all but one pair cleared the ice.
Elli Kopmar and Jonah Barrett, a junior pair with the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club in Ellenton, used the warning to take one last pass.
Friday was the first time the pair was back on the ice for competition since taking home a silver medal from the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January and they wanted as much time as possible to prepare. They glided to the far end of the ice, away from the entrance, and Barrett lifted Kopmar, but only temporarily. The pair tumbled off balance, catching themselves just before a serious wipeout could occur.
“People always forget there’s a lot of nerves, especially when you’ve been off from competing for a while and you’re getting back into it,” Barrett said. “We got that out on the warmup.”
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Barrett reached his hand out to Kopmar as they skated off the ice and she shook her head. They’d have a few minutes to regroup before skating their short program at Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, which they call home throughout the year.
Not even 10 minutes later, Kopmar and Barrett took the same loop around the ice and this time there was no slip. Kopmar and Barrett won the junior pairs short program with a score of 47.55 points. Their only competition was from Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club (SWFFSC) teammates Sarah Rose and Ian Meyh, who scored a 31.28. So Kopmar and Barrett’s lone event of the weekend was a chance to get re-acclimated to live action as they seek a national gold medal in their final pass through the junior circuit.
The opening day of the figure skating competition at the Sunshine State Games, which runs through Sunday at Ellenton Ice and Sports, was filled with championships for SWFFSC. William Hubbart won the junior men division at 60.91, edging teammate Mark Sadusky’s 45.25. Dallas Ward won the junior ladies division, which had the deepest field of any junior division, with a score of 35.01. The club’s dominance even extended to the novice age groups, where Nicholas Hubbart won the men’s division with 32.11 points.
The 2017-18 season doesn’t officially begin until July, so the state games serve as a mid-offseason tune-up for most the most competitive skaters in the competition, including Kopmar and Barrett. Their season will begin July 6 at the Orange Blossom Open Competition, another small early season event in Oldsmar.
“For this early in the season, we were really happy with how it went,” Barrett said. “Little things that we need to improve, but in general I thought it was a good showing.”
For the next month and a half until their season truly begins, Kopmar and Barrett now have a baseline to work with.
They’ve gotten early season jitters out of the way, they hope, and can start to pinpoint the specifics of where they can improve. It’s going to take some flash over the next year to become a national champion.
“We want to improve the throw,” Kopmar said. “I think it could be a lot bigger.”
Sunshine State Games schedule
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