Written by Helena Mazzarella
Arrington Ice Arena glistened with the sparkle of Swarovski crystals on the morning of Sunday, September 19, as a group of twelve eager skaters took the ice to debut their new competitive programs for the 2021-2022 season.
The Homecoming Exhibition also served as an extension of the figure skating teams’ pre-season simulation, which took place a week prior. As skaters entered the arena, Beats placed delicately over gelled back buns, blasting pump-up music, it is already evident that this will be a good season for the Bulldogs.
Starting the event was freshman Fiona Conway, who skated her emotional Senior Short Program. Conway says, “In a normal figure skating competition, the environment is very serious and tense. Everyone is waiting for you to fail. However, at my first Homecoming Exhibition, I felt nothing but love, support and positive energy. It was an incredible feeling to be skating alongside my teammates.” Conway went on to execute an incredible double-double combination jump.
Despite the freezing cold temperature inside the rink, things quickly heated up— especially when junior Alyssa Dunn skated her Junior Short Program to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).” In addition to skating a technically clean program, Dunn hit every beat of the high-energy music, and the audience joined in on the fun, cheering and dancing rinkside.
The exhibition showcased various events, including short programs, free skates, and solo free dances. Freshman, Gia Swanson, performed her powerful Senior Solo Free Dance.
Swanson says, “Skating in the Homecoming Exhibition was an amazing experience! I haven’t skated solo in a very long time, and it was incredible to have the support of my teammates as I went on the ice. Having the exhibition was also a fun way to celebrate the start of the new season, and it made me excited about campus skating opportunities.”
For many first-year students, this was their very first time performing as a Bulldog, which brought a whole new level of excitement. However, the exhibition was a way for senior Michaela Sumner to round out her homecoming experience. Despite being a senior, Sumner says, “I was excited to skate in the homecoming exhibition because I never had the opportunity to do it!”
With their entire competitive season being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic last season, the Homecoming Exhibition, for many, was their first time performing under “normal” circumstances in front of a crowd in a very long time. While this in itself may have been a bit nerve-wracking, the energy within the arena radiated only positivity, excitement and support.
Emphasizing the strong team culture within the Adrian College Varsity Figure Skating Team, Sumner comments on her teammates’ performances, saying, “Congratulations to the rest of my teammates who also took part in the event. Everyone did a great job!”
Finishing off the event with her Senior Solo Free Dance, junior Sophia Colon says, “Being able to have friends, family, and students see how hard we’ve been working and cheering us on was awesome. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store!”
The support was not limited to those within the figure skating team. The exhibition directly backed up to the Adrian College Learn To Skate session. As young skaters filed in for their ice skating lessons taught by AC Skating team members, they watched, with complete amazement, their coaches executing difficult fast spins, huge jumps, and beautiful skating.
Concluding the skaters’ performance, Head Figure Skating Coach Nikki Czuhajewski says, “It was truly an honor to be able to watch members of the figure skating team debut their new programs after the tumultuous season the athletes endured last year. I am looking forward to watching the team’s continued progress throughout the season as we gear up for our first competitive event in early November.”