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Local Skaters Attend National Event

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
By: Brent Baburich

Twice a year, athletes of all ages and skill levels are given the chance to showcase their talents on a national stage in the State Games of America.  The multi-sport event features medal winners from 45 states competing against each other in a format similar to the Olympics or the Pan-American Games.  Over 400,000 athletes compete at the state level of this competition, and this year 10,000 of those athletes will be traveling to San Diego, CA to compete in 23 sports at the national level.

The Pittsburgh area will be well represented with five girls from the region traveling to compete in the figure skating competitions.  These skaters qualified for the State Games of America during competition at the Keystone State Games/Pennsylvania Skating Championships which were held in York, PA during January of this year.  Among hundreds of competitors, these five girls placed in the top three finishers of their respective events to receive an invitation to the event.

The Pittsburgh skaters train and practice at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island under the supervision of the Island Sports Center’s skating director, Beth Sutton, as well as other area instructors.  The five girls traveling to San Diego are:

Elspeth Cunningham
•    12 years old from Marshall Township
•    Entering the 7th grade at Marshall Middle School (North Allegheny School District)
•    Has been skating for 7 years
•    Coached by Beth Sutton
•    Plays hockey for the North Pittsburgh Wildcats U14 Girls Team

Kiana Geiger
•    16 years old from Franklin Park
•    Entering the 11th grade at North Allegheny Senior High School
•    Has been skating for 5 years
•    Coached by Beth Sutton

Libby McGrosky
•    10 years old from Clinton, PA
•    Entering the 5th grade in the Southside Area School District in Beaver County
•    Has been skating for 6 years
•    Coached by Jessica Harman-Wasik and Heidi Krueger
•    Skates with the Steel City Blades Synchronized Skating Team

Emma Ross
•    12 years old from Franklin Park
•    Entering the 7th grade at Ingomar Middle School (North Allegheny School District)
•    Has been skating from 7 years
•    Coached by Beth Sutton and Jennie Vicinie

Megan Tierney
•    16 years old from Shaler
•    A Junior at Shaler Area High School
•    Has been skating for 5 years
•    Coached by Beth Sutton

The girls will travel to San Diego for the event which runs August 4-7, 2011.  Once on the West Coast, the skaters will be treated to a world-class experience. On August 5th, the event will be kicked off by an Opening Ceremony much like that of an Olympic Opening Ceremony.  There will be a parade of athletes, flag bearers for each state, and a torch lighting ceremony.  The ceremony will be held in Qualcomm Stadium and a crowd of 20,000 people is expected to attend.

On Saturday the 6th, the girls will get the chance to have some fun at a competitors’ party hosted by the State Games at Coronado Tidelands Beach Park.  When it is time to get down to business, the figure skating competitions will be held at the Iceoplex in Escondido, CA.  In each event, a gold, silver, and bronze medal will be awarded.

Beth Sutton describes figure skating as “a sport of athletic skill and delicate beauty, it is a sport which is challenging, demanding and rewarding!”  Youth skaters of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to give figure skating a chance.  The Island Sports Center offers a Learn to Skate program where a skater can learn the basics and fundamentals of skating for hockey, figure skating, or speed skating. 

Ms. Sutton goes on to say, “Figure skating teaches the skaters about discipline, determination and self reliance.”  Once completing a Learn to Skate program, skaters may begin to enter more advance levels of instruction and even private lessons where skills become more advanced.  At this point, skaters may decide whether to pursue the sport competitively or just as a form of recreation.  For the girls attending the State Games of America, they pursued figure skating competitively and will now be competing on a national stage.

For more information on the 2011 State Games of America, please visit

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