SAN DIEGO - A pair of local figure skaters went to Detroit two weeks ago and brought home silver medals from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Fourteen-year-old Ashley Stark and 16-year-old Kevin Ponceau have nearly 20 years of combined ice-skating experience but have only skated as a pair for nine months.
"It's definitely been a challenge," said Stark. "I think trying to coordinate speed and spins has been an object in the road. I think the best thing about it, that really helped a lot, is that we have a really good friendship.''
"Once we realized we have to get this connection to get more points, to have a better connection, it just kind of clicked," said Ponceau. "We'd always make eye contact, just delicate those details and then kind of just raise up that performance grid."
Unlike Stark, this is Ponceau's first season competing in pairs so naturally he had a lot of catching up to do. He said all the hard work and long morning practice sessions continue to pay off.
"After learning a little bit, I was like, ‘wow these are really hard elements.’ Over time, just like anything in life, you just keep pushing through it and you get those elements and you perfect them," said Ponceau.
The duo nearly did just that at the U.S. Figure Skating Associations National Championship where they beat out 10 other juvenile pairs to earn silver.
"It was amazing," said Stark. "We didn't really expect to win. We were just going trying to do our best and beat our personal best scores."
"I just proved to myself that anything is possible and if you work hard and practice, sometimes goals do get done," said Ponceau.
Their next goal means advancing to intermediate pairs.
"It's a completely different ball game in my opinion," said Ponceau. "There's new elements, there's overhead lifts that you don't really have to do in this juvenile level so there's new things that I'm eager to try."
"It's definitely going to be new for us but it's a challenge," said Stark. "This year was a challenge and we're just going to keep on going and persevering like we have."