Competitors carve out their talents at skating championships

JOEY LAFRANCA/STAFF PHOTOHeather Zarisky carves out one of her designs for practice prior to the finals of the World Figure & Fancy Skating Championships at Ameri-Can North Sports Center in Plattsburgh.


PLATTSBURGH — The field of competitors at this year’s World Figure & Fancy Skating Championships was smaller than usual due to travel restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the skaters who did take part in the event at Ameri-Can North Sports Center showcased their fine talents.

Unofficial results featured Heather Zarisky and Shepard Clark of the United States winning the female and male titles, respectively.


Prepping for competition during a pandemic certainly presented challenges, but Zarisky said she as well as other competitors did their best to stay ready.

The World Figure & Fancy Skating Championships were originally slated for September but rescheduled and wrapped around the New Year’s holiday from Wednesday to Saturday.

“Finding ice time at home was a challenge, so I was outside just to get some ice time with a mask on any chance I could get,” Zarisky said. “I think skaters are just so driven to do something positive. The whole year has been negative. We just wanted to all be doing something positive.”

The event coming to Plattsburgh was a bit different but not an unfamiliar location to Zarisky who has competed in various skating events in Lake Placid and Montreal.

“The area has been really nice,” Zarisky said. “When we come to events, we just concentrate on them, but we have taken some time to drive by Lake Champlain and see how beautiful that is.”


Zarisky’s grand total of 57 secured first place, while Anne Bennett (110), Meghan Germain (137) and Stephaine Theobald (257) took second, third and fourth, respectively.

In the men’s competition, Clark’s final score of 50 was plenty low enough to capture first. Marc Fenczak (96) and Matthew Snyder (159) placed second and third.

Skaters made their designs on the freshly painted sheet of black ice that had sectors marked off so each competitor could have their own space, which conveniently went along with social-distancing concepts.

“This really is the safest sport in terms of social distancing because we are separated by our quadrants,” Zarisky said with a laugh.


As the sport continues to catch on and the talents of these athletes are brought to the forefront, their training regimens are consistent.

An even amount of lower- and upper-body strength is needed to have success on the ice, Zarisky said.

“You really have to do a lot of different things to stay fit and be able to do all these tracings we do on the ice,” she said.

The mental side of competition is also crucial since nerves can sometimes play a role.

“I just get myself into my little box when I am out here,” Zarisky said.

“When I am standing out there and hear the first whistle, I am just telling myself to relax and bend my legs. But once I get going, a bomb could go off and I would not notice. I just get so locked in.”

Email Joey LaFranca:

Twitter: @JoeyLaFranca

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