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    September 23, 2021 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    A strong incoming class and one alumna returning for graduate school have combined with a solid foundation of veteran skaters to form a talented mix within Liberty University’s figure skating team this fall.

    “We’ve got a great group of girls coming in, which is very exciting,” Lady Flames Head Coach Dawn Harter said, noting she kept a total of 22 skaters, including seven who will also be competing on Liberty’s synchronized skating team. “The majority of the newcomers have some background in skating and will be able to carry the team forward in the direction of (U.S. Figure Skating Collegiate) Nationals (in April).”

    Two junior exercise science majors, Claire Rivas — one of Liberty’s three Senior-level skaters — and Marissa Harter (Pre-Juvenile) have been designated as the team’s captains.

    Sophomore Jamie Gordon and freshman Courtney Kirschke are the Lady Flames’ other two Senior-level skaters and freshman Sophie Flatt is the only one to have tested at the Junior level.

    Liberty has four Intermediate skaters — freshmen Greta Snukis, Emma Richards, and Rachel Berger and sophomore Rebekah McBrayer. Juvenile-level skaters include freshmen Emma Rietveld and Kamden Carrera and sophomore Emma Marnik, with sophomore Kristine Neumeyer and junior Sarah Hicks joining Marissa Harter at Pre-Juvenile. Juniors Alecia Bernau and Hailey Jordan are joined by freshmen Hannah Bruckner and Kylie Strong in the Preliminary division while Sarah Embry returns as a graduate skating up a class in Pre-Preliminary. Junior Olivia Epperson, who came to the team from the Learn to Skate program, will debut as a High Beginner skater.

    Skaters geared up for a high ropes course at Camp Outpost.

    The team will have its first opportunity to perform in a mock competition set for Oct. 22 from 4-6 p.m. at the LaHaye Ice Center, which will be free and open to the public. The Lady Flames have three Eastern Sectional competitions scheduled in the spring semester — Feb. 5-6 at Princeton (N.J.), Feb. 12-13 at Liberty, and March 12-13 at Delaware, with bids to the April 1-3 U.S. Figure Skating Collegiate National Championships in Adrian, Mich., on the line.

    “We plan on having three team maneuvers teams, at the low, intermediate, and high levels, and to have about 10 dance starts per competition,” said Harter, who is having the Charlottesville-based dance coach Sue Tuck conduct an edge clinic on Friday in advance of Sunday’s dance tryouts.

    To promote team-bonding, Coach Harter took the Lady Flames on a team retreat to Thomas Road Baptist Church’s Camp Outpost this past Saturday near the Peaks of Otter.

    “One of our team members led worship and another led devotions before we had breakfast and went to the low-ropes course, which helped build a lot of team communication,” Harter said, noting they then tackled a high-ropes course and zip lines before ending the day with a late lunch and ATV four-wheeling. “We wanted to do something different and it was nice to get away from campus and build relationships. Some of them had a fear of heights and got over it and attempted things they thought they would never do.”

    Harter said 11 of her skaters also serve as instructors to help to lead Wednesday “Learn to Skate” sessions, developing skills and serving as mentors for a total of 55 youth skaters from the community.


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer