Learning from the best

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Ashley Wagner, 2014 U.S. Olympian and Olympic bronze medalist, visited the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena and taught two classes to figure skaters, according to an email from Jane Taylor. There were 25 skaters who participated and worked on edges, turns, and improving their overall skating skills. The class was called “Skate & Sculpt,” which is an on-ice group instruction class that Wagner created for skaters of all ages, levels, and abilities to access the ice and share their love of figure skating. 

 Using music as motivation, Wagner encouraged skaters to work harder on their skills and dig deeper into the meaning and the “why” behind their skating, Taylor wrote. She shared her experiences as a high-level skater, and how it shaped her into the person she is today. Wagner strongly emphasized that each individual’s skating matters and is important. 

This resonated with figure skating club member Sally Caron. Caron is a senior at Fairfield University, and is a U.S. Figure Skating double gold medalist and silver medalist across three skating disciplines. 

 “Unfortunately, skating often centers around competition, and dismisses the idea of building one another up. Our club is lucky to be one of the few that encourages a positive atmosphere with healthy competition,” Caron said. “To have a U.S. Olympian, someone who’s competed on the world’s largest stage, emphasize that everyone’s skating matters left me feeling uplifted and positive about my entire skating experience.” 

Sisters Laila and Allie Branca both said they had a lot of fun skating with a U.S. Olympian, Taylor wrote. “It was really fun learning with Ashley, but it was also very hard work,” Laila said. 

Figure Skating Club coaches Jane Elizabeth Taylor and Beth Blankenship-O’Connor also participated in the class. 

“We rarely get an opportunity to skate with our athletes,” Taylor wrote. “This was an exciting moment for all of us to inhabit the ice as equals.” 

As the summer training program ends, the skaters will prepare for their first competition of the season: the Vineyard Open and Basic Skills Competition, held on-Island on Saturday, Nov. 5.