Spreading their wings

  • Jennifer Aaby<br>For the Enterprise
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 11:32am

LYNNWOOD — What sport involves elements of hip-hop, jazz, cheerleading and stunting all while skating on ice? Cheer dance skating.

Haven’t heard of it? That will soon change, with the help of Puyallup resident Lisa Clinton, who founded the sport in 1998 while living in Michigan and is now instructing a pilot program called Learn to Cheer Dance Skate at the Lynnwood Ice Center.

The camp, which had two separate six-week sessions, teaches the basics of skating and cheering.

At the end of the camp, athletes will perform a routine and could possibly move on to join performance groups, which entertain at hockey halftime shows.

“They’re learning all the basic skills of skating along with jazz and hip-hop movements and cheering and stunting basics,” Clinton said.

Clinton described the sport as being similar to the cheerleading, pom pom and dance team competitions shown on ESPN2.

The Seattle Ice Angels, which Clinton founded, is a team of girls who performed at Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips ice hockey halftime shows this past season. Clinton also founded ensembles in Michigan and New York City.

“It’s another team sport in skating,” Clinton said.

Synchronized skating is catching on within the U.S. Figure Skating Association, and Clinton said she hopes the USFSA will be able to promote cheer dance skating as well.

For the second camp session, members of the Ice Angels will instruct the enrolled campers. Clinton had six campers for the first summer session, and two signed up for the second session, although people can drop in on the camp and attend for just one day.

The camp is held from 4-5:30 p.m. on Saturdays through Aug. 7 at the Lynnwood Ice Center.

Four of the nine members of the Seattle Ice Angels, which formed in December, attended the first lesson on July 10. They were on hand to work with the campers and show parts of a routine they performed last season during halftime shows for the local high school hockey league.

Kayla Preston, 17, of Mukilteo; Brianna Hudson, 17, of Lynnwood; Stacy Lindbloom, 18, of Mountlake Terrace; and Stephanie Smith, 20, of Mill Creek, all began figure skating years ago.

For Lindbloom, joining the Ice Angels was an opportunity that satisfied her interests in cheerleading and skating. She had little time to commit to other sports in high school since she was skating so much, but this opportunity was a perfect fit, she said.

“It’s fun to show off your skills in front of a large group of people,” she said.

The Ice Angels performed at high school hockey games from the end of April through June.

The performers all said that cheer dance skating provided them with an opportunity to utilize their skating experience, but that the focus was not on competitive skating. This was an opportunity to have fun, regardless of skill level.

“You do some jumps and tricks, but it’s more dance,” Preston said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve had much experience.”

The skaters said they also enjoyed working as a team to collaborate on routines. Preston said the halftime performances in front of large groups help her individual skating as well.

“It gives you performance confidence,” Preston said.

Ana Borsan, of Lynnwood, enrolled her daughters, Andra, 11, and Christina, 9, in both Learn to Cheer Dance Skate sessions. Borsan’s daughters first stepped on an ice skating rink earlier this year, and she heard about the camp while they were skating one day at the Lynnwood rink.

Borsan said the camp has been an opportunity for her daughters to learn something new, and they have enjoyed themselves and made progress throughout the sessions.

“This class is really good for them,” Borsan said. “It’s something other than playing in the park.”

For more information about the summer program or the Ice Angels, contact Lisa Clinton via e-mail at NSCA2004@aol.com or call 646-594-0391.

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