A Skate of Mind

Hoover athletes compete at national level

Isabella Rosette, Staff Writer

Center Ice Sports Complex in Canton, Ohio is home to many Hoover ice skaters. This year, three of Hoover’s skaters competed at the national level. Hosted by Greater Cleveland Figure Skating Council and the Strongsville OBM Arena, juniors Hanna Kiko, Rhiley Paskoff and Alexa Hapstak competed in the 2021 Excel National Festival. The competition took place Aug. 12-15.
The Greater Cleveland Figure Skating Council describes the Excel National Festival as “an opportunity for skaters from Compete USA levels through the Excel senior level to participate and compete at a national event.”
Kiko competed in the Excel Pre-Juvenile Plus level against 20 other skaters at the competition. Paskoff also competed at the Pre-Juvenile Plus level, stating that “you had to place top 6 in one of the 3 sections or top 2 overall.”
Hapstak competed at the Excel Intermediate Plus level and placed 11/20 in the competition. Only 20 out of 45 skaters qualified at this level across the country.
For Kiko, competing during the national level was special to her. While she states that she was under a lot of pressure at the competition, it was a great experience and opportunity for her.
Starting out at just the age seven, Kiko has come a long way from being the little girl with beat-up skates. Despite not placing as high as she intended, Kiko hopes to make it to the national level again next year so she can place higher.
Paskoff placed 10th out of 20 girls in the Pre-Juvenile Plus level, stating that she was “really nervous to compete there” since the competitors were the best of the best.
“There were tons of people there,” she said, “whether it be in the stands or waiting to get competition merchandise.”
Hapstak said that when the competition arrived, she was very excited to compete at the national level, despite all of the hard work and attention to detail the competition required.
However, competing at the national level doesn’t come easy. Each of the skaters put countless hours and effort into their practices to prepare for the competition.
Every weekday over the summer, Paskoff could be found at Center Ice completing two-hour practices, both on and off the ice, training for the competition.
“I would run my program multiple times a day and drill sections that seemed to lag in previous competitions to make myself feel more comfortable,” Paskoff said.
She goes on to say that at the beginning of every practice, she would run five-minute warm-ups — the same amount of time she would receive for warm-ups at the competition.
Kiko prepared for the competition by training most days of the week in both Canton and Cleveland two-three hours a day.
“I would come into the rink and train with my coaches and try to get as much done as I could in the time that I had,” Kiko said.
Paskoff spoke regarding being able to compete at the national level this year.
“It was amazing,” she said. “The rink even set up a Kiss and Cry booth to sit in while we wait for results to be announced.”
Paskoff went on to say that scores were announced right after a skater competed to keep the amount of skaters in the lobby to a minimum.
The Center Ice Skating Club will be presenting Spooktacular, an annual competition hosted by Center Ice Sports Complex Oct. 22-24. While Paskoff and Kiko will not be competing at the event, Hapstak will be performing one program at the show.
If you see any of the girls in the hall, make sure to congratulate them on making it to nationals.