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Teen ice skating pair prepares for first national competition

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SAN DIEGO -- Aiden Elswick and Ashley Stark were paired together for a holiday ice show eight years ago and have been skating together ever since.

The teens, who are both members of the San Diego Figure Skating Club, have earned a spot to compete at the national level for the first time.

"We know each other's weaknesses, we know each other's strong points because we've known each other so long that we're like brother and sister," said Stark.

The two practice anywhere from 12 to 17 hours a week on the ice. Just like those in any close relationship, they say they disagree and challenge each other often.

"Once we're off the ice, we're out of it, we're fine," said Elswick. "All the conflicts that happen on the ice usually stay on the ice and it doesn't really affect us afterwards."

In November, Elwisk and Stark took gold at sectionals, marking a first-time accomplishment for the two. The two have since qualified for nationals, where they will compete against 12 other ice skating duos.

"We're just training and getting as much ice time as possible," said Stark. "There are limited sessions so it's kind of hard and private ice is really expensive."

The juvenile pair will perform a combination of choreographed dance moves and ice skating skills at nationals. They say no matter the outcome, the thrill of performing on the ice is enough.

"I think it's just the fact of getting away," said Stark. "It's like a vacation. For instance, you're just away from everything, you can block everything out, you're just there and it's your moment."

Elswick and Stark will compete at nationals on Dec. 29 in San Jose but need the community's help to get there. They set up a GoFundMe page to help cover travel costs.

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