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Taking time to enjoy winter's bounty

February 26, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Spring fever takes a back burner to winter festivities this weekend during Winterfest 2004 at the Hagers-town Ice & Sports Complex.

The three-day celebration from Friday, Feb. 27, through Sunday, Feb. 29, will feature figure skating and synchronized skating exhibitions, public skating sessions and ice hockey games - including a match-up between former Philadelphia Flyers hockey players and local adult hockey team all-stars.

"This is a chance for people to quit shoveling snow and ice and enjoy it," said Ginger Pembroke, marketing director at the ice rink. "It's a popular event for us. And it seems like if the weather is colder, our turnout is better."

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The fifth annual WinterFest kicks off Friday with a public skating session to raise money for cystic fibrosis research. The group raising funds to fight the disease, Tessa's Angels, will receive a cut of the $7 admission fee for the event. In addition to skating, participants can take part in raffles and other activities, Pembroke said.

A figure skating exhibition will headline an activity-packed Saturday. Organized by Erin Benedum, the show will open and close with choreographed group numbers. Nearly 30 skaters of all ages have been practicing on their routines - all of which will be set to winter-themed music - for the past month to prepare for the show.

"I think you're going to see a lot of their personalities come out because they'll be more relaxed than at competitions," Pembroke said.

Her daughter, 13-year-old Victoria Pembroke of Hagerstown, has been honing her routine to the tune of "Carol of the Bells," she said. Victoria's routine will include such moves as spins and a jump in which she rotates twice in the air.

Merrick Jensen, 11, of Hancock, will execute lutz and loop jumps during her upbeat routine to a song called "Sleigh Ride," she said. Markia Walk, 15, of Greencastle, Pa., has been trying to nail a tough back spiral into lutz jump to crown the flying camel, flip jump and sit spin moves that also comprise her performance to "It Happened in Sun Valley," she said.

Gracie Jones has smaller aspirations - completing a successful turn - but then she's only 4 years old. The youngster and a friend will perform their routine to "One Little Candle."

"I'm wearing my purple dress," said Gracie of Hagerstown.

In contrast to Amelia Carte's fast routine to the tune of "Tomorrow's My Dancing Day," Ellen Burke's slow and graceful performance to "Winter" will resemble ballet on ice, she said. Amelia, 12, of the Martinsburg, W.Va., area, hopes to hone her camel spin for her rockin' routine. Ellen, 14, of Mercersburg, Pa., has been practicing back-to-back jumps in preparation for the exhibition, she said.

Frederick Fire on Ice synchronized skating teams - the Flames, Blaze, Sparks and Red Hots - will perform after the figure skating exhibition. Coaches Carrie Hess-Bollino, Cary Summerlin and Debby Jones train their troupes to "move as one" on the ice, Ginger Pembroke said. Synchronized skating is the fastest-growing ice sport in the United States, she said.

All skating enthusiasts will have the opportunity to cut their blades into the ice during three planned public skating sessions throughout the weekend. The large ice rink will be divided in half for Saturday night's public skate to accommodate a game of broomball. Players split into teams and arm themselves with sticks to push a soccer-sized ball into the opposing team's goal.

"You don't have to wear skates to play," Ginger Pembroke said. "That's part of the attraction."

Hard-hitting hockey action - and likely a few laughs - will attract spectators to the game between alumni of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team and members of the Hagerstown Adult Bulldog Allstars. Former Flyers players - including Bob Kelly, Joe Watson, Reggie Leach, Frank Bialowas, Dave Schultz, Larry Goodenough, Dave Parro, Ray Allison, Mark Freer, Joe Spinelli, Mike Black and Rob Meiness - are expected to play purely to win until they get a comfortable lead, said Carl Langford, general manager of the ice rink.

"It'll be serious until they get their cushion, then it'll be fun for all," he said. "They'll probably kill us again."

Flyers alumni have been part of WinterFest for the past three years. This year's alumni team was part of the first National Hockey League expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, and some of the players were members of the Broadstreet Brawlers, Langford said.

"They're hockey history," he said.

Flyers alumni will be on hand to sign autographs following the game.

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