By Tom Williams
Jackson-Milton High School senior Tiffany Voland loves entertaining on the ice. She has been skating with the Skating Club of Greater Youngstown (SCGY) since she was 11.
“I love skating,” Voland said. “It’s so much fun and I love performing, getting dressed up. It’s awesome.”
Last month, Voland finished first in eight categories as the Skating Club of Greater Youngstown won the Robert Unger Trophy as overall team champion at the 32nd annual Ice Skating Institute Winter Classic Championship.
The competition was in Oxford at Miami University’s Goggin Ice Center. Voland also had five second-place finishes.
Twice before, SCGY finished second (in 2013 in Oxford) and 2015 (in Orlando).
The Youngstown club had 52 competitors of all ages in 220 individual events and 13 team events. Youngstown earned 97 firsts, 59 seconds, 29 thirds, 14 fourths, 10 fifths and 11 sixths to record 1410.5 points.
Maria Koman, SCGY director, said the three-day event consisted of more than 72 hours of competition in two rinks over three days, with 599 competitors performing in 2,506 events.
Competition categories included: artistic, couples, couples spotlight, ice dance, figures, free dance, family spotlight, footwork, freestyle, hockey, interpretive, jump and spin, “kaleidoskate,” pattern team, pre-alpha through delta, production team, solo compulsories, special skater, solo spotlight, stroking, synchronized teams, tots, team surprise and theater production.
“Synchro is really fun being on the team with everybody,” Voland said. “Spotlights are purely entertainment based. My favorite event is probably spotlight because I can be really expressive and funny.
“I love all of it.”
Two of Voland’s firsts came in couples categories with her partner Nicole French, also from North Jackson. She also did well using a rhythmic ribbon and ball as well as in synchronized routines and a production routine.
French finished with four firsts and two seconds.
Many of the routines are planned well in advance. Others require improvisation. Take interpretative, which could be subtitled “Whose Skate Is It Anyway”?
“They pick a song and they play it for you three times,” Voland said. “And then you go out and make up a routine on the spot.”
Koman said the club’s team excelled at several age levels. Electric Edge in the Senior Youth Division earned two first-place finishes. Electric Edges 2, the Youth Division team, earned one first place and one fourth place. Sophisticated Company, the adult team, took two first places.
Voland said some of the events are unscripted.
“In Team Surprise, they give you some random [task],” she said. “We had to carry an egg on a spoon and skate through cones, then pass it [to teammates].”
One of the younger competitors was Lizzie Pfeffer, a fourth grader at Austintown Intermediate School. She scored six firsts and one second.
Lizzie was 2 when she first skated, said her mother, Maggie, who scored 12 firsts.
Lizzie’s favorite event?
“Spotlight because of the props,” she said.
Skating to “The Rainbow Connection” from “The Muppet Movie,” Lizzie moved around a rainbow prop on the ice.
Koman said SCGY’s Kaleidoskate team placed first with a Harry Potter routine.
The final event was a theater productions showdown from the top-scoring teams. SCGY secured its championship with a “Lion King” tribute.
The Mahoning Valley was well-represented at the Classic. Among those skating were: Michelle Pfeffer, Austintown, two firsts; Teresa Santilli, Boardman, nine firsts and two seconds; Pam Ripple, Youngstown, 11 firsts and four seconds; Anngel Benson, Youngstown, fours first; Jenna Benson, Youngstown, four firsts; Shirley Neher, Boardman, four firsts; Ross Phipps, Youngstown, five firsts; Kathy Voland (Tiffany’s mother), North Jackson, six firsts; and John Trobek, Masury, one first and one second.
The club also has skaters from Pennsylvania and Michigan. The skaters practice at the Covelli Centre as well as Hess Ice Rink in New Castle, Pa.
On April 9 at 2 p.m. at the Covelli Centre, SCGY’s spring show “Classics on Ice” will be staged featuring the synchro teams and competition productions,
For more information about the club, call Koman at 330-501-6251 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.