Over the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, Great Neck's Ice Skating Institute Skating (ISI) Team competed in Lake Placid, New York. The team of 46 skaters was able to experience Olympic-style figure skating events in a scenic, wintry location.
What added to the excitement was waking up to a fresh snowfall and watching the frozen lake being cleared of the white blanket of snow that was left each day. It was storybook beautiful.
The skaters competed individually and as part of a team. The events included a wide variety of categories such as Spotlight, Artistic, Technical, Ice Dancing, Ensemble, Production Team, Synchronized Skating, Spin & Jump, Stroking and Solo Compulsories.
Competing at the Alpha level, 6-year-old Brooke Cenneme began the competition Friday morning. Brooke's skating ability, not to mention her genuine smile, earned her a bronze medal. That evening, six Spin & Jump teams entered three different level competitions. The Ferster sisters, Rachel, Shaindy and Meira and skating teammate Hannah Bella came in second place.
Coaches Audra Smith and Melissa Brengal, both Great Neck residents, were ecstatic that the Synchronized Skating Team placed 4th with an extraordinary routine to Pat Benatar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot as background music. Seventh graders Maya Ginor and Karishma Mansukahani led the team and pulled together a terrific four-arm pinwheel with complicated changes. Synchronized Skate Team members also include: Ilana Sedaka, Erica Scheblein, Kim Mishra, Emily Baklajian, Samantha Greben, Rachel Coons, Danielle O'Hara, Rachel, Meira and Shaindy Ferster and Mollie and Emily Blank.
The Ice Theatre of Great Neck took home gold with their spectacular production number interpretation of High School Musical 2 on Ice. There was an abundance of pressure when the rival team from Essex Hunt Club competed in a number from the same production. But with the remarkable mix of choreography and the spectacular skating ability of Chelsey Larkin (who played "Sharpey"), the Great Neck Team prevailed. Coaches Shannon Lenihan, Erica Starkman and Christina Tache were more than proud watching the team take home the gold medal, while getting a standing ovation from the spectators. Needless to say, the other coaches who attended, Milada Stasny, Lauren O'Rourke and Tara Modlin were just as pleased.
Emily Blank, who entered events events, brought 29 points to the Great Neck team including three gold medals and three bronze. The youngest to skate were five-year-old Guilia DeRaimo, Isabella Lok, Jordan Peiser and Caroline Peiser. The oldest team members are skate Moms Cindy Cassiere and Leslie Blank, who competed in the production event.
The competition ended on Sunday, Jan. 20 with Great Neck's last competitor, Marissa Cassiere, gliding her way to a gold medal in the Stroke event. Marissa's additional six points gave Team Great Neck the points needed to put them ahead in a solid, well-deserved 4th place standing overall. The skaters, coaches and parents were truly a team, working together and enjoying every minute. Congratulations to all involved!