Figure skaters readying for club’s spring show

Skating out onto the ice, the arena is silent. Alone in the middle of the arena, English teacher Kristen Bettle takes a deep breath, calming her. All attention is on her as “Today was a Fairytale” by Taylor Swift blasts through the speakers, and her routine begins.

This wasn’t like any other competition. She was against two skaters who practiced at a boarding school in Minnesota, and it seemed that all odds were against her. She convinced herself that she was not going to place very well. She knew these skaters spent every day practicing. This was one of her first competitions in high school compared to the tens that her competitors had done.

Gliding across the ice in a pink princess skating dress handmade by her grandmother, she carefully executed every jump, spin and turn, leaving her with cold air in her lungs and first place around her neck.

Seventeen year old Bettle not only proved to her coach that she could compete at a higher level, she proved it to herself.

Since fourth grade English teacher Kristen Bettle has practiced figure skating. Despite her mother’s worries of the dangers of the sport, she soon became consumed with the world of figure skating and never looked back.

“It is something that I have always done, and I don’t think I could give it up. It has been part of my life since fourth grade, so I want to keep doing it as long as I can, which is why I am really glad you can compete as an adult,” Bettle said.

Through many falls, a concussion and a broken foot, she has continued to compete and learn as she got older — her love for the sport never fading.

“Coaching is similar to teaching. In order to explain something to students, you need to make sure you have done it first, which is why I want to keep skating,” Bettle said.

With age comes knowledge, but with knowledge follows fear.

“There is a lot of little kids that still skate, and I find that they are fearless when it comes to jumping.They just throw themselves in the air, and that is something that terrifies me,” Bettle said.

Since her high school days, Bettle has continued to coach and competitively skate.

“I still coach. I think it is really good to show my skaters that I am still skating and that I am still learning, so I still want to continue coaching higher and higher levels. I have to be able to do the things at those levels,” Bettle said.

Through her coaching, she has helped sophomore Anna Taft grow in just two years as a competitive skater.

“My friend took me to open skate two years ago and introduced me to skating,” Taft said.

From there she grew in her skating skills, attending every open skate possible and signing up for learn to skate lessons.

“I started at basic level five and have grown out of the basic levels. I just got done learning my first jumps and spins and am moving to a more intermediate level,” Taft said.

With just two short years under her belt, Taft has had a lot of catching up to do compared to her peers who have skated from a young age. However, this motivates her more to continue with the sport and perfect her skills.

“Just between these two years, they have said I have been the most improved skater and just the fact that I can click so easily to it. They show me a move and within the first few tries, I can pretty much get it. I’m not realizing it and always pushing myself to get skills better,” Taft said.

Now these skaters are preparing to showcase their skills at the Cedar Valley Skating Club Spring Show. Followed by the show, Taft said she hopes to compete this coming fall in her first skating competition.

“I didn’t want to start competing until I felt prepared,” she said, “but no matter what, I still plan on getting judged and moving up in levels.”

Both Taft and Bettle have spent countless hours on the sport, freeing their minds on the ice. Their biggest tip for people who are interested: “Go for it.”

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