By MARGARET DWIGGINS
Another season of the Silver Blades figure skating club ends this weekend, when the club will present “Extra, Extra!” its 39th annual Ice Classics show. For the club’s 88 skaters, the show is the crowning achievement of their hours and hours spent on the ice, learning new skills, choreographing routines and sacrificing so much of their before- and after-school time.
And they will see, this weekend, how that hard work can pay off when one of Silver Blades’ own will return to Findlay and prove that ice skating can be a career.
Matthew Blackmer, a former Findlay resident who began his figure skating career while a member of Silver Blades 10 years ago, is the male half of the reigning U.S. National champion pairs team.
Blackmer, 22, learned to skate as a hockey player and joined the Findlay Amateur Hockey Association when he was 6. His younger sister, Margaret, asked him to try figure skating with her one year, so he joined Silver Blades.
“I took to it right away,” Blackmer said. Blackmer and his sister skated with the club for two years before their mother took a new job and the family moved to Michigan. There, Blackmer joined the Detroit Skating Club. At 19, he left home and moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., home of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, so he could pursue his career.
Blackmer skates in pairs competition, although he is looking for a new partner at this time. He will perform in a group number at this weekend’s shows.
Since moving to Colorado he has earned three international medals and had a top 20 ranking in addition to the national championship.
This year’s Ice Classics feature performers are Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian and four-time U.S. Figure Skating Championships medalist, and Adam Rippon, a silver medalist at the U.S. national competition and the world junior champion in 2009.
Nagasu placed fourth in the ladies’ figure skating event at the 2010 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She placed third in the ladies’ event at this year’s U.S. national competition. Usually, in an Olympic year, the top three medalists earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. However, the U.S. Figure Skating Association selected skater Ashley Wagner for the team, who placed fourth, as the association felt that Wagner was a more consistent skater at the international level. Nagasu filed a protest with the association but later accepted the decision.
In a People magazine story earlier this year, Nagasu said she will continue her quest to compete at the Olympics.
Blackmer has trained with Nagasu and calls her a “thrilling skater.”
“She’s probably one of the biggest names Findlay has seen,” Blackmer said. “Of course they’ve had some really great show skaters, but I would say she’s one of the most prestigious.”
Rippon, Blackmer said, is also “extraordinary.”
“He’s one of the most artistic male skaters in the U.S.,” he said.
Recently added to the show line up is the pairs team of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who also train with the Detroit Skating Club and won the junior world championship just this past weekend.
Blackmer said only a few American pairs teams have won the world championship.
Silver Blades’ skating professional and show director is Christy Wronkowicz .
Performances are slated at 7 p.m. today and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at The Cube. Reserved chair seats are $16 and are available by calling 419-299-3503. General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors and will be available at the door.
The show is sponsored by Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Wal-mart.