Sunday, June 26, 2016

Joel Heads Off to Japan! 6-24-16

Today, June 24, 2016, my son Joel left for his 3rd year touring with Disney On Ice Frozen! They will perform all over Japan for the next three months. He returns home to Colorado for a short time (before going to Europe and England and Australia and New Zealand) on September 27. I gave my son a huge hug good-bye. I'm so proud of him. What an adventure he has ahead!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Annabelle Schneider-Farris - US Figure Skating SEXTUPLE GOLD MEDALIST! June 19, 2016

On Sunday, June 19, 2016, Annabelle Schneider-Farris passed her Senior Free Dance! My daughter is now a SEXTUPLE US Figure Skating Gold Medalist!

She has passed Senor Moves, Senior Solo Free Dance, Senior Free Skate, Senior Pair, Gold Dance and Senior Free Dance! And..she's only 16 years old! I'm "one proud mom!"
  • Senior Moves in the Field: Passed March 8, 2015 
  • Senior Solo Free Dance: Passed May 17, 2015 
  • Senior Free Skate: Passed August 9, 2015 
  • Senior Pairs: Passed August 23, 2015 
  • Gold Dance: Passed May 29, 2016 
  • Senior Free Dance: Passed June 19, 2016

Here's the story of Annabelle's Skating Adventure:

Annabelle began skating as soon as she could walk!

Every Sunday, when Annabelle was a baby and toddler, we'd go roller skating as a family and my husband Dan and I would push her around the roller rink in a stroller while we skated. Annabelle wanted to join in the fun, so she climbed out of her stroller and tried to skate.

The roller skating rink made these little skates for toddlers and pre-schoolers using sneakers and locked wheels, so soon, Annabelle "skated" with the rest of the family in her cute little sneaker-skates!

As she gained confidence, the roller rink's owner loosened the wheels and Annabelle was rolling and skating. Ice skating was easy for Annabelle since roller skaters seem to be able to "magically" ice skate.  As soon as she stepped onto the ice, she could skate!

Anyway, we spent every weekend at both the ice skating rink and the roller skating rink and seemed to skate all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

Annabelle Won Her First Basic Skills Skatng Competition When She Was About Four Years Old

Annabelle "the face" on the US Figure Skating Basic Skills Brochure

Annabelle would choreograph complete programs (with props) when she went roller skating and ice skating! I carefully put her hair in a cute braid-ponytail, and she dressed up every time she skated. It was so fun to watch her enjoy being creative and watch her play on the ice during those early skating days!

Annabelle Won 1st Place When She Skated to "I Enjoy Being a Girl" - Which She Choreographed Herself!

I taught all three of my children skating, but when Annabelle was six years old, in 2006, shortly after the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, I decided to expose my children to the Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall (now called the Ice Hall at the Broadmoor World Arena) which just happened to be only a few minutes from our house. (We are one of the few families that didn't relocate from some far away place to skate there...we already lived there!)

Annabelle and her siblings, Joel and Rebekah, were so inspired by the wonderful and accomplished skaters and coaches who trained at the World Arena Ice Hall. I enrolled Annabelle in the World Arena Ice Hall's Saturday Learn-to-Skate program and she took ballet for figure skating off-ice classes on Saturday.

Janet Champion's daughter, Katrina, taught the Saturday ballet classes. Annabelle did basic skills competitions with Katrina as her teacher, and eventually her coach became Janet Champion. Joel and Rebekah were doing both pair and ice dancing at the time, and also doing singles.

Below is a video of one of Annabelle's first "official" competitions!


Here's her Pre-Juvenile Free Skate test:


Rebekah and Joel's first pair coach at the World Arena was 1981 World Pair Skating Champion Irina Vorobieva when they competed at the Pre-Juvenile pair level, but when they moved on to Juvenile, they made a coaching change to Dalilah Sappenfield.


One Saturday morning while she was teaching Joel and Rebekah pairs, Dalilah noticed how creative and artistic Annabelle was on the ice, and suggested that Annabelle do pair skating lessons with Rockne Brubaker, who at the time, was the US Junior World Pair Skating Champion. (Rockne went on to win the US Championship title twice with Keauna McLaughlin.)

Annabelle passed her Preliminary Pair Skating test on July 13, 2008 and Rockne partnered her through that test. She looked adorable and it was awesome to have Dalilah's pair skaters cheer for her on that day!


As time went on, Dalilah became my three children's prinary coach. 

Through Dalilah's great organizational skills, all three of my children got to work with almost all the coaches at the World Arena Ice Hall.

Eddie Shipstad taught Annabelle on the pole harness, helped her master her jumps, but also taught her on moves and free skating. Dalilah taught her free skating, pair skating, and  moves in the field and Annabelle also spent some time learning from Becky Calvin when she worked on her junior moves test.

Annabelle earned her first US Figure Skating Gold Medal and Senior Moves in the Field test on March 8, 2015 under Dalilah's great coaching! Then on May 17, 2015, Dalilah got Annabelle through the Senior Solo Free Dance test and a 2nd Gold Medal!


Dalilah's son, Larry, skated with and took Annabelle through her Juvenile pair skating test, but as time passed, Dalilah matched up Joel and Annabelle as a pair, so became Joel's pair skating partner. Together Joel and Annabelle passed the Intermediate, Novice, and Junior pair tests.

Joel and Annabelle competed at the Interneidate level at "Junior Nationals," and when they moved up to Novice, they competed at Skate Detroit and Indy Challenge and at Midwesterns and Pacific Coast and at Skate Challenge in Salt Lake City. They were alternates for Nationals for both the 2014 competition season.


Joel and Annabelle passed the Junior Pair test together on June 22, 2014. I was so proud of them!


Then, after Joel joined the cast of Disney On Ice Frozen a month later on July 21, 2014,  Annabelle continued to skate pairs with Dalilah's son Larry and worked towards passing the Senior Pair test.

Also, I taught Annabelle and Sam Anderson ice dancing and pairs when they were little kids, and when Annabelle was in the Learn-to-Skate program at the World Arena Ice Hall,

I recall Sam and Annabelle taking Trina Pratt's ice dancing class. Sam and Annabelle also had some lessons at Sertich Ice Center, Colorado Springs city rink, with the great Doreeen Denny (Olympic ice dancing coach and world ice dancing champion), who coached me and my ice dancing partner, Richard Griffin, at the old Broadmoor World Arena in the 1970s.

Sam Anderson and Annabele Schneider-Farris In  Dee Knierim-Couch's Cats On Ice 2005 

In early 2010, Annabelle and Val Katsman became ice dance partners and began to work towards competing at the Juvenile Dance level.  They were coached by Patti Gottwein and Trina Pratt.  I recall that they also had some lessons with Todd Gilles.  Trina choreographed the cutest free dance to the music "Lolipop, Lolipop!"


In order to compete at the Juvenile ice dance level, Annabelle had to pass the Preliminary and Pre-Bronze Dance tests, so once a week, for 20 minutes, I taught 2003 world singles competitor Ryan Jahnke how to do those dances with Annabelle. (Ryan ended up partnering Annabelle through her Bronze dance test.)


Beginning somewhere in 2011, Annabelle and Joel really concentrated on skating pairs and not on dance, but Joel did take Annabelle through her 14-Step in 2012.

In January 2013, she took the Foxtrot with Denis Pethukov (with Sandy Hess, Melissa Gregory Pethukov and Denis teaching) when Melissa and Denis came to Colorado especially to teach Annabelle's sister Rebekah on the Quickstep, and our friend Jessica Mancini on Internationals.

Annabelle took the European Waltz, and completed the Pre-Silver Dance test in early August, 2013. (Dalilah arranged for Yuriy Kocherzhenko, who taught at the World Arena Ice Hall for a brief time, to take Annabelle through that dance.)


Annabelle competed in singles, and won the Southwestern Juvenile Test Track level at Southwesterns when it was hosted by the Broadmoor Skating Club in 2011 and she competed in Intermediate at the Broadmoor Open and at other local competitions.

(Linda Kola Alexander, the manager of Honnen Ice Rink at Colorado College coached Anabelle for a time on moves and free skating, and was the coach that was there when she won the regional Juvenile test track event.  Linda also coached Annabelle on her Intermediate Moves in the Field test.)

When pairs became her priority, Dalilah helped Annabelle set goals, and as time passed, she progressed steadily through the free skating tests.

Annabelle passed the Novice free skating test on July 20, 2014 and the Junior free skating test at the Denver Figure Skating Club and the South Suburban Ice Arena on June 13, 2015.

 Annabelle went off to camp for most of the summer 2015, but when she returned, during our family vacation in southern California during the summer of 2015, Dalilah arranged for her to work with Naomi Nari Nam, and at the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club, Annabelle passed the Senior Free Skate test on August 9, 2015!

(Note: That was really exciting since Annabelle's home club is now the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club because when she competed in pairs with her brother Joel, one of them represented Broadmoor Skating Club and the other represented the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club so they'd have the option of competing in Pacific Coast or Midwesterns.)

As soon as our 2015 family summer vacation ended and when we returned to Colorado, Annabelle passed the Senior Pair test a two weeks later (with coach-partner Larry Ibarra) on August 23, 2015!


After she passed the Senior Pair Test, Annabelle set the goal of concentrating on ice dancing and passing the Gold Dance test and Senior Free Dance test by mid-June, 2016, and she achieved that goal!

Thank you so much to coach Logan Giulietti-Schmitt who got her through the Pre-Golds before the December 2015 holiday season, and to both Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck (at Monument's 7k Skating Academy) and Logan for co-teaching her in the spring of 2016 and getting her through the Golds, (with a little "help" from US National Ice Dancing Champion and Olympic ice dancing competitor Russ Witherby, who skated with her for her 2nd try on the Westminster Waltz which completed her Gold Dance test at a Los Angeles Figure Skating Club test session on May 29, 2016). Also, it was "so cool" to have my coach, Darlene Gilbert work with Annabelle on that dance a few times before the test).

When we returned to Colorado on May 30, 2016, her ice dancing coach, Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, reviewed sections of the Senior free dance he choreographed during the school year with Annabelle, and a week later, Logan texted me and asked if Annabelle wanted to take the Senior Free Dance test at Broadmoor Skating Club's test session on June 19, 2016 and the rest is history since she passed the Senior Free Dance and became a US Figure Skating SEXTUPLE Gold Medalist!

There are so many people to thank for helping Annabelle reach this increible goal:

First, I need to praise the World Arena Ice Hall at the Broadmoor World Arena for providing such a wonderful training atmosphere and providing such incredible figure skating coaches.

Next, I need to thank Broadmoor Skating Club's test chairman Janna Blanter for being so dedicated and working so hard. We've counted how many figure skating tests Annabelle has taken (which is about 50!) and Janna has been there for about 45 of her tests!

I also need to thank Dr. Les Cramer who has judged Ananbelle on about every test she took at the Broadmoor Skating Club!

I also need to thank every single person who has taught Annabelle at some point of her skating career. I'm not sure I can remember everyone, so excuse me if I forgot to list you...

Thank you to my dear friend Larisa Gendernalik who was one of Annabelle's first skating teachers, and thank you to DeeDee Knierim-Couch, Katrina Schlom, Trina Pratt, Janet Champion, Eddie Shipstad, Becky Bradley, Patti Gottwein, Irina Vorobieva, Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck, Ryan Jahnke, Becky Calvin, Naomi Nari Nam, Themi Leftheris, Trudy Oltmanns, Linda Kola Alexander, Doreen Denny, Larry Ibarra, John Coughlin, Sandy Hess, Melissa Gregory, Denis Pethukov, Rockne Brubaker,  Catarina Lindgren, Vikki de Vries, Amber Kole, Rich Griffin, Becky Bradley, Bruce Hurd, Yuriy Kocherzhenko, Russ Witherby, Darlene Gilbert, The Wheaton Skating Academy, Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, and there has to be others....

....And a HUGE THANK YOU to Dalilah Sappenfield for believing in Annabelle (and my other two kids Joel and Rebekah) and for teaching her since she was a very little girl and helping her reach her goal of becoming at US Fgiure Skating SEXTUPLE Gold Medalist!