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WinterFest continues

February 29, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Winter was the theme at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex Saturday, but Scott Powell was by the sea.

"Stranger on the Shore" by Kenny G. poured from the public address system as Powell's gliding skates carved tracks in the ice.

A crowd of about 120 clapped after the most complicated moves.

Dozens of other skaters - all of whom practice at the rink - followed with brief, but graceful routines of leaps and twirls.

Saturday was day two of the three-day WinterFest 2004. The event continues today with youth hockey games and a game featuring former members of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers.

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Saturday's skating exhibition started with a group performance - a prelude to the individual routines.

Skaters had about two minutes apiece. Some had more, some had less, depending on their skill level.

Ginger Pembroke, the ice rink's marketing director, said the skaters were asked to have winter music. Some went with song titles that weren't cold at all, but they were welcomed, too.

"As winter sets in, we often long for warm sunny days, relaxing by the seashore, or exploring the music and dance of exotic lands," the exhibition program read. "Join these skaters as they recall the warmth of Summers Past."

Sami Nelson, 12, of Chambersburg, Pa., picked "Somewhere In My Memory" from the "Home Alone" movie soundtrack. It counted as a "Winter Holidays" tune.

It was slower music than the upbeat pieces she usually likes, but Sami said she wanted to mix up the pace.

She said she has reached skill level 5 on the freestyle scale, which has 10 levels.

The best part of ice skating, she said, is competing against friends, but "in a friendly way."

Baleigh Neill-Shepherd, 10, of Martinsburg, W.Va., started her segment by popping from a snowflake-covered box. Her song was "Softly Falls the Snow."

Pembroke said the skaters ranged in age from 4 to 18.

The exception was Delsie McCoy, the senior member of the group at 32.

Usually, being an adult among children has no effect - unless there are so many of them, McCoy said, smiling as she surveyed all the youngsters surrounding her.

McCoy, a health educator for Valley Health System in Winchester, Va., who takes individual lessons at the rink, skated to a song called "Snowfall." She said her coach picked it for her.

Pembroke said all of the skaters put in many hours perfecting their pastime. For Sami, it's three days a week, two hours at a time.

Powell, 18, a senior in South Hagerstown High School's Academy of Finance, estimated his practice time to be 25 hours per week. Getting out of school at 12:30 p.m. each weekday helps.

Powell said he has been accepted to Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., where he plans to study accounting.

But he expects to try out for Disney on Ice, which could put his college career on ice for a while if he makes it.

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