MV Figure Skating Club turns 30

Bridge program skaters, from left, Aedan Coogan, Isabella Webster and Lilli Claussen. —Louisa Gould

Unmarked ice glistened before a flow of families as they found their seats at the newly restored Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena Sunday afternoon. The still chilled April air called for hats, gloves, and parkas, especially inside the Oak Bluffs ice area, but the hundreds of figure skaters performing didn’t seem fazed by the cold. They were doing what they love, and that was clear throughout the two-hour 30th anniversary performance.

The Martha’s Vineyard Figure Skating Club turned 30 this year, and they celebrated over the weekend with two shows. On Saturday, April 7, at 6 pm, and Sunday, April 8, at 1 pm, there were flowers, crowds, and ’80s music pouring out from the MV Ice Arena. The anniversary show was called “30 Rocks: On Ice.”

“The club was founded in the mid-’80s, and our first ice show was in 1988,” MVFSC president Jane Taylor said. “Since the club is turning 30, we figured we’d use music that’s also turning 30.”

“Faith” by George Michaels opened the Sunday afternoon performance, and 10 skaters wearing jean jackets glided together in smooth and continuous motion. Eighteen routines followed the opening act, showcasing soloists, groups, alumni, and a full-cast performance to George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set on You.”

The MVFSC is broken up into four age groups. “Tots” is an entry-level skating program for ages 3 to 6 in a group setting. “Learn to Skate” is group instruction program for kids 5 and up that focuses on the fundamentals of skating for both hockey and figure skating. “Bridge Program” is a small instruction group for skaters that are getting ready to transition into “Freestyle,” which is the club’s most dedicated group of skaters. They take private lessons with coaches, and compete and test within the U.S. Figure Skating test structure.

Hundreds of kids enroll in the MVFSC each year. According to Taylor, the club has 10 in “Freestyle,” 11 in “Bridge,” 65 in “Learn to Skate” and a couple hundred in “Tots.” Taylor and Beth O’Connor orchestrate it all. “It takes a lot of time, but it’s good. We have a lot of fun,” Taylor said.

There were five soloists in the 30th anniversary show: Maia Donnelly, Ryan Giordano, Molly Carroll, Megan Zeilinger, and Sally Caron. Solos are earned, and skaters have to achieve certain tests within the skating association in order to be featured. Trisha Roonan was the guest skater, and performed two solo routines. She’s an 18-year-old seasonal Islander, and international competitor.

“All of our skaters look up to her skate-wise, but they also have her as a peer,” Taylor said. “It’s really nice to see. She’s skated with us for four years and has been a great role model.”

Soloists sent the audience into mid-performance applause during their routines. Donnelly charmed the crowd to “Let the River Run,” Giordano wore a black-and-white striped suit and covered all corners of the ice to “Beetlejuice,” and Roonan commanded the entire arena to “Fever.” After intermission, Carroll skated to “Cherish,” Zeilinger to “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and Caron to “The Way You Make Me Feel.”

Another highlight was the Bridge and Freestyle combination routine that skated to the theme song of “Full House” and “Fuller House.”

“Skating together in one number is something we’ve never done with our Bridge and Freestyle skaters. It’s been a great opportunity to see the younger kids connect with the older ones, and vice versa. They share the great understanding and passion for what skating is,” Taylor said.

The skate club presents weekend performances every year, but they’re small and don’t feature MVFSC alumni. The big shows, like last weekend’s, are put on every five years and include guest skaters and alumni.

Taylor took on the role of full-time coach for the MVFSC in 2004. She coaches figure skating and hockey, and was a skater herself for 28 years.

“It’s a very independent and self-motivated sport, and I’m always impressed with everyone’s dedication,” Taylor said.