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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Veterans Return and Rookies Set for Debut

There was style and there was grace on Saturday at Islanders Iceworks -- the site of the 2006 Syosset Ford Ice Girls tryouts.

A large turnout of young women between the ages of 18 and 24 made their way to Syosset with hopes of becoming a member of the 2006-07 Islanders Ice Girl squad.

It's great to see so many enthusiastic and well-qualified girls this year, said Ice Girls coach, choreographer and performance director Linda Lester. This was one of the toughest years.

Of the 11 Ice Girls selected, seven are returning and four will make their debut this year. Among the returning members is five-year veteran Lauren, who has been an Ice Girl since its inception in 2001. Lauren works as a recreational therapist, but uses her opportunity with the Ice Girls as an outlet to perform.

This will be my sixth year as an ice girl, but it feels like a new experience each year, explained Lauren. There are new people, new fans and I just love being able to entertain the crowd.

Two of the four newest members include identical twins Kristy and Kelly, who will be starting their freshmen years in the fall at schools on Long Island.

It's really exciting to be chosen, said Kristy. I always knew the Ice Girls were something I wanted to be a part of.

I talk to so many people who said the Ice Girls are great, added Kelly. I look forward to performing and being all dolled up.

Before Lauren, Kristy, Kelly and the rest of this season's Ice Girls were chosen, their skating skills were put to the test during two sessions. The first tested their fundamental skating abilities: forward and backwards skating, as well as crossovers. Following the preliminary cuts, the second skating session tested the skaters' style and form.

We look for strong skaters, who have good edges and have strong basic skating skills, said Lester.

Once the skating was complete, the young women were interviewed to discover more about their personality and aspirations.

Said Vice President of Game Operations and Events Tim Beach: After their skating, we look for strong personalities and for girls with a confident outlook. The girls we choose are expected to be positive role models.

After a long discussion, the final decisions were made.

It was such a relief, said newcomer Sasha. I know a couple of people who have been on the team and they've told me what a wonderful experience it's been. It's going to be exciting to skate on the Coliseum ice.

And the fans should be excited too about the new outfits, too. They are sexier and sportier, described production director Vickie Miller of Angela King Designs. With two tops, pants and a skirt, the Ice Girls will have a chance to change their attire from game-to-game.

The Ice Girls will make their 2006-07 debut at the September 29 preseason game at the Coliseum versus the Rangers.


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