Nurse jumps into figure skating
Post Independent Staff
Elaine Hallett loves to skate.
During her working hours she’s a nurse at Valley View Hospital. But her life is built around figure skating.
Hallett, who lives in Glenwood Springs with husband Steve DiCampo and dogs Ruby and Rascal, spends long nights at the hospital and days at the Aspen Ice Arena carving simple geometric forms on the ice. She also has a few spins and jumps in her repertoire.
Hallett grew up in Phoenixville, a town in eastern Pennsylvania near Valley Forge. After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a degree in biology, she chose nursing as a career.
“I wanted to live where I wanted and I thought nursing would be the ticket,” she said, alluding to the chronic nationwide shortage of nurses.
She enrolled in the University of Northern Colorado’s nursing program and graduated in1985.
But her timing was not the best.
“No one in any of the fun places was looking for nurses,” she said.
She landed in Sterling – not her ideal place to live, but she made some good friends there. Among them was a nurse who moved to Glenwood Springs, who got Hallett connected with Valley View. Then things fell into place.
“I found this house, my friend fixed me up with the guy I married,” she laughed. “I’ve been here for 15 years with the same job, the same house and the same guy.”
Skating came as something of an afterthought. She’d done all the usual outdoor things with Steve: mountain biking, skiing, biking.
“Then I got into Rollerblading,” she said. “Then I got the urge to start jumping.”
Aspen Ice Arena offered beginner ice skating lessons and Hallett signed up.
After the first class she signed up for private lessons with her present coach, Lisa Warner, taking two freestyle lessons per week.
Hallett took to skating like a skater to ice.
“I’ve always had dance and gymnastics in my background. I like to be on the ice, it’s really challenging,” she said.
Hallett is now in training for the various levels of proficiency in figure and freestyle skating that a competitive skater must pass. It involves learning the complex but simple-looking school figures, the threes and eights skaters must learn to describe with the blade of a skate.
She is on both the standard and adult testing track, which involves skating disciplines such as freestyle, with jumps and spins “like you see on TV,” Hallett said. She’s also learning the requirements for “moves in the field,” which involved edging sequences using the entire rink and moving at good speed.
Traditional figures are completed in a “patch” or small area of the ice.
“You have to learn to check your body. There is a lot of counter-rotation,” she said.
In both the moves in the field and figures, the idea is to achieve balance, control and edge quality. In the moves across the rink, Hallett strives for power and speed.
Both disciplines are a challenge.
“They’re just wonderful to work on,” she said.
Hallett has been competing for two years and scoring her share of gold. In fact, her competitive track began in the Special Olympics.
“Special Olympics pairs competitors with non-Special Olympians,” Hallett said. She was paired with a Special Olympian in Unified Dance in which she and her partner performed the Fiesta Tango in Vail and Denver. “It was a good way to get in front of the judges,” she said.
She also competed in the 2000 Adult National Championships in Lake Placid, which also happens to be where her coach trained.
“I took home the gold for artistic program,” she said.
Since then she scored a third at the Denver Invitational last year and a gold medal at the Vail Invitational.
Her latest artistic program, choreographed by Warner, is set to the music of Cheeseballs in Cowtown, a Bela Fleck piece. In the program she slips a set of faux skis over her skates and skates some ski ballet moves.
But the fun and the finished product come at the cost of hours of practice.
“It takes a lot of patience and practice,” she said.
Although Hallett finds the skating keeps her in good shape, she also takes a Pilates class to maintain her flexibility.
She also spends a good deal of time on the road traveling to Aspen to skate. Although Glenwood Springs has a competition-quality ice rink at the new Community Center, it is not open to free skating, which needs the entire arena, Hallett said.
“If it’s a community rink, it should offer something to different groups,” she said. “Freestyle doesn’t pull in the numbers of people, but there are skaters here who are interested” in using the rink for practice, she said.
Despite the extra effort of driving upvalley for two two-hour lessons each week, the payoff is very rewarding for Hallett. “I don’t understand why it’s not more popular,” she added.
For the near future, Hallett plans to train for testing to advance through figure skating levels of competence. For the long run, she just wants to keep skating.
“I’d like to be skating when I’m 60,” she said.
Contact Donna Daniels: 945-8515, ext 520
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