Figure skating club hosts 28th annual invitational
By Jason Gabak
Most weekends at the Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center are busy with numerous events and activities.
From swimming to ice skating to exercise programs, the facility is well used.
But this past weekend was particularly busy as the ice rink hosted the 28th Annual Skaneateles Figure Skating Club’s Invitational
For more than 20 years Betsy Ernyey has served as competition chair.
She said the idea of hosting a local invitational was born out of a certain amount of necessity.
“We wanted to host a competition and do something our kids didn’t have to travel for,” Ernyey said.
While Skaneateles figure skaters to travel for events and competitions, it was an exciting idea to host an event, one which has garnered a great deal of attention from skaters, teams and clubs from across the northeast.
For much of its early history, Ernyey said the invitational was held at the Allyn Arena ice rink, but since the community center came to be and with the addition of the Duke Schneider ice rink, the community center has been a great supporter of the invitational, offering more ice for skaters to practice while competition is taking place.
“The Y has been very generous,” Ernyey said. “A lot of people like having access to the ice and we are fortunate to have a great facility here in our community.”
Ernyey said some years competitors travel from as far as Canada and the southern United States.
“We will have at least 198 skaters,” Ernyey said. “We have to cap it at 250 so we can get to everyone.”
Ernyey said skaters will travel for a number of reasons, with some coming from Pennsylvania, Florida, Western New York State and beyond year after year.
“We get clubs from Buffalo and Rochester, Niagara University, the Skating Club of Western New York,” Ernyey said. “We also get more local clubs from Ithaca, Geneva. Some come from Florida and out of state. Some of them grew up in the area but moved away and their families still bring them back to take part in this each year. It is exciting to see how interested people are in our invitational.”
According to the Skaneateles Figure Skating Club website, the club has a mission to encourage and promote participation in figure skating.
The club provides instruction, practice and skill development in the sport of figure skating and all that it encompasses for boys and girls of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
This includes moves in the field, free skating, pair skating, ice dancing and synchronized team skating.
The club also strives to celebrate those that wish to compete on the ice and those that enjoy skating as recreation.
In addition the club encourages and promotes teamwork among its skaters, as well as self-discipline and personal responsibility on and off the ice, while striving to promote habits that encourage health and lifelong fitness.
The club is governed by U.S. Figure Skating, and adheres to all its rules and regulations of that organization.
These rules and regulations play a role in the response to the invitational.
Ernyey said there are events open from beginner to experienced skaters.
“We get kids as young as four,” Ernyey said. “We have one lady in her 60s that is here every year to compete. We get a wide variety of people.”
Whether taking part in a competition or hosting one, Ernyey said it is a good experience for Skaneatles skaters to test their skills and see what other skaters are doing, helping all involved to push themselves and find new ways to enhance their skills on the ice.
Ernyey said with the invitational coinciding with Dickens Christmas and the facilities at the community center, it has helped the invitational be successful and well attended year after year.
But there is also something else.
“We want to have a good event,” Ernyey said. “We try to take good care of everyone who comes. We try to make it welcoming here and people can go see Dickens when they aren’t competing. People appreciate that and I think it helps make this a good event and people come here and have a good time.”