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Adult skaters prepare for their moment

August 9, 2019
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The last time Lake Placid hosted a major adult skating event, it was the Adult National Championships in April 2008. Over a decade later, the village will host an even more prestigious adult skating event, when the International Adult Figure Skating Competition, also being called the 2019 ISU North American Competition, will take place Oct. 14-19 in the Olympic Center.

Adult skating has experienced a renaissance in the past several decades. While previously considered the domain of children or teenagers, figure skating has become very popular with people over age 21.

US Figure Skating was the earliest skating governing body to codify a skating competition test structure for adult skaters, with adult freestyle and moves in the field tests being introduced in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, respectively.

Article Photos

David Kobe and Gina Jadwisiak, of the Skating Club of Lake Placid, dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible skate in the Saturday Night Ice Show at the 1932 Jack Shea Arena in Lake Placid on July 20.
News photo — Elizabeth Izzo

The 1990s were also when the Adult Figure Skating Championships began, with the first in Wilmington, Delaware in 1995. Lake Placid subsequently hosted five times - in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2008 - and quickly became a treasured adult skating destination.

It took a little while longer for the adult skating events to start being hosted internationally. In 2005, the first ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition took place in Oberstdorf, Germany and almost every year since. Considering that Oberstdorf and Lake Placid are often favorably compared to each other, perhaps it's not surprising that an International adult skating competition hosted by the ISU (International Skating Union) would eventually find its way to Lake Placid.

Past chair of the ISU Adult Figure Skating Group Rhea Schwartz, one of the adult skaters who was involved in the event bid and negotiation process, felt the time was right.

"Lake Placid is one of the most historic and iconic skating venues in the world, and adult skaters know that Lake Placid has been a wonderful host for the US Adult Nationals several times," Schwartz said. "So it was a natural to try to place the ISU competition there.

"Of course I hope that the event is a huge success, but I will be especially happy to see lots of international skaters participate."

The North American competition will include freestyle, pairs, ice dance, artistic and synchronized categories. In accordance with ISU age categories, the minimum allowed age is 28, as opposed to the US Figure Skating definition of adult skater which begins at age 21.

For Skating Club of Lake Placid adult skaters, the competition is an opportunity to compete in their home rink in an international capacity.

Married ice dancers Gina Jadwisiak and David Kobe will compete in the gold free dance event with their entertaining program to music from Disney's The Incredibles in which they perform as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible. Splitting their time between Maryland and Lake Placid, both are proud members of the SCLP, and Kobe is former president of the Club and remains active as an ex-officio member on the SCLP board. Both work with local ice dance coach Mimi Wacholder Franz and are excited about the experience.

"(Our goal is) skate a smooth program and perform as well, if not better, than we do in practice, and we are also working on a new lift just for this competition," Kobe said. "Based on scores we have seen in previous ISU adult competitions, we are not really expecting to medal.

"It is nice that we are going to have competitors and we won't have to travel to compete."

Karen Kan and James Gann are another pair of local adult skaters who are competing at the North American championships. Kan, a retired medical doctor and spiritual teacher, recruited Gann, a Kung-Fu instructor, African drummer and former skateboarder, in 2005 as a pairs skating partner. Neither had ice skated as children. Kan started at age 29 with the Skating Club of Lake Placid and Gann started at age 32 under the tutelage of local Hall of Famer Jack Devitt.

The on and off ice couple have won two national gold medals in pairs, multiple gold medals in singles and now are eyeing the gold in their ice dance debut in October. They will compete in the bronze level free ice dance and intermediate pairs artistic events together.

Kan will also compete in an artistic freestyle event, while Gann will compete in the intermediate men's freestyle event. Kan and Gann now work with Former international competitor and national medalists Mimi Wacholder Frantz and Marc Fenczak.

"We're excited to skate in Lake Placid because it's our home turf," Gann said. "It should be a fun event."

Carly Brox, a long-time member of the Skating Club of Lake Placid originally from Canada, will compete for her home country of Canada, but will of course be supporting fellow SCLP skaters as she competes in the silver free skate event.

"This will be my first time competing at an ISU adult competition," Brox said. "I'm excited and a bit nervous but look forward to competing with skaters from other countries."

Schwartz acknowledges that Lake Placid is a bit more remote, but feels the event will be worth the trip.

"I know that Lake Placid is a bit of a challenge to get to ... but so is Oberstdorf and people seem to recognize that it is worth it, and I hope that will be true of Lake Placid," Schwartz said. "I know that everyone who participates will be glad they did."

For more information on the Lake Placid International Adult Figure Skating Competition, including sign up, visit the Lake Placid Skating website at



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