By Neil Geoghegan
ASTON >>’Have you ever been tired of skating? ‘
It’s a problem that Meghan Huffman frequently joins the field these days. But for Downingtown preteens, it’s not difficult to answer.
“Not so,” she says.
A budding 7th grader at Villa Maria Academy, Megan is one of the top young female figure skaters in the United States. Very advanced at the age of 12, she skipped the entire competitive level (intermediate girls) and went directly from boy girls to novice women. And despite playing against older, experienced skaters, she’s already thriving.
“Whenever I ask her if she wants to take a break (from training), she says’no’,” said her mother, Shannon Patton Huffman.
Self-motivation wasn’t an issue, but it’s not always the case for emerging young geniuses like Megan. And few people, like their mother Shannon, a skate instructor, can fully understand the uniqueness of the situation.
“Meghan loves everything on skates,” Shannon said. “She is very motivated and she wants to go to the people someday.”
This kind of dedication and motivation was exhibited when Megan made great strides, even when it was closed in 2020 in the aftermath of a pandemic. All home workouts and zoom meetings with her coach at Aston’s IceWorks skate complex have come to fruition this spring when Megan began landing various triple jumps.
Triple jump at the age of 12?
“It’s very impressive,” admitted Shannon. “You need to be very accurate and have the right skills to make these jumps.”
“She loves to compete”
It’s not surprising that Megan started skating when he was young. Her mom was a figure skater when she was young (she added, “not as much as Megan”). She has been an instructor since 1996 and she is a coaching staff member of Premier Orthopedics / Ice Works.
“I was a coach and she always wanted to be with me. I put her in a group lesson, and she really liked it,” Shannon recalled.
Megan, who was only four years old at the time, clearly remembers that day.
“It was a public session with my mother, and I loved it,” she said. “In group lessons, most of the time, everyone else was on the ice and I was the only one who could move around a bit.”
Things went well and by the age of seven Megan had taken private lessons. But by choice — Shannon wasn’t her coach.
“(Meghan) was pretty shy, and she’s still so,” Shannon said. “I got her into her competition, so she made eye contact with people and came out of her shell a bit, and she just loves to compete.”
And now, in many competitions five years from now, Megan plays in front of the crowd, making it much more comfortable to interact with people in a one-on-one situation.
“I was more nervous when I was young,” she said. “Now it’s much easier.”
Megan’s breakthrough happened shortly before the pandemic when a team of four coaches guided the way and made their first appearance at Juvenile Girls in the South Atlantic region in 2020. Her IceWorks-based head coach is Leif Gislason and Jeff Di Gregorio, a renowned technical specialist who coached former Olympic gold medalists Tara Lipinsky and Sara Hughes. In addition, Megan Williams Stewart is her spin coach and Michael Solonoski is her choreographer.
“I can’t say good enough about IceWorks. It’s a great training facility,” Shannon said.
“Meghan loves to jump and don’t have to worry about falling. She is competitive and loves to be on the ice. She drives it herself.”
“It feels almost like flying.”
The average week during the summer includes five days of work on ice. While at school, Meghan raises it up to 6 days a week.
“It’s a big commitment,” Shannon pointed out. “Villa Maria was great. She graduates early every day for training. She is a straight A student.”
In the 2021-22 season, Megan won her first big national praise. In the US Figure Skating National Championship Qualifying Series held in Leesburg, Virginia and Norwood, Massachusetts last fall, she ended up second on the East Coast and sixth in the Boys and Girls category.
Shortly thereafter, she formed the US National Development Team. She traveled to Nashville for training last winter and attended Jump On It in May! Camped in Colorado Springs and attended by many world and Olympic coaches.
It all led to a series of triple jump attempts and landings. Her first was a triple salchow. Then came the Triple Toe Loop, Triple Loop, Triple Flip and Triple Lutz.
“It’s really fun. It feels like it’s flying,” Megan said. “It can take several months to land a single triple jump. It felt very cool after landing.”
Shannon added: “From mid-May she started landing these jumps, and her current goal is to make them consistent.”
Even if Megan jumps to a novice woman, it’s really rewarding to add more difficult elements to her routine every week. Earlier this month she won the rule trophy. This is given to the novice female winner of the Skate Wilmington 2022 Tournament. In addition, Megan won the Dodson Trophy, the event’s most prestigious award for her excellence in free skating events.
IceWorks will host the next big competition, the Philadelphia Skating Championships, which is part of the National Qualifying Series, from August 3rd to 7th. In the second half of August, there will be another qualifying event in Norwood, Massachusetts.
“The goal is to create a section (in the South Atlantic region) in November,” Shannon said.
“Her story about having fun in focus”
As you can imagine, figure skating is often talked about between Megan and Shannon, but not for his 10-year-old brother Zachary.
“He doesn’t want anything to do with Link,” Shannon laughed.
When asked about the best advice she received from her mother, Megan said, “I’ll talk about staying focused and having fun.”
Megan’s interest in international skating reached a new level at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Shortly thereafter, Megan joined the National Development High Performance Team. This means she is eligible to compete internationally in the Advanced Beginners Ladies category.
When asked about her favorite skater, Megan doesn’t hesitate. Among the women, Russia’s Alexandra Trusova won the silver medal in Beijing. On the male side, it’s American gold medalist Nathan Chen. Both are proficient in quad jump landings.
She’s probably far from her peak year as a performer, but Megan has many goals she wants to achieve, both short-term and long-term.
“The first is to go to the people,” she said. “My ultra-long-term goal is to win a gold medal at the Olympics.”
Huffman in Downingtown has blossomed the top young female figure skater in the United States – Daily Local
Source link Huffman in Downingtown has blossomed the top young female figure skater in the United States – Daily Local