Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Skating Club of Amherst hosts ‘Gold’ figure skating show at Mullins Center

The skating performance included two UMass students

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(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

By Kathrine Esten, Assistant News Editor

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Over 100 local skaters performed in the Skating Club of Amherst’s 50th anniversary figure skating show, “Gold” in the Mullins Center Arena on March 25.

The skating club first began in 1968 as “American figure skating was undergoing a renaissance with Peggy Fleming’s gold medal win at the Winter Olympics in France,” according to the program guide handed out at the show. While only a few dozen Amherst College faculty, staff and students practiced together at Amherst College’s Orr Rink in the first few years, the club now boasts approximately 150 members and is one of 750 member clubs in the United States Figure Skating, the national governing body for the sport of figure skating.

In the early years of the club’s existence, their annual ice show doubled as a charity benefit. While the practice faded over time, the club decided to renew the tradition in honor of the 50th anniversary. In the fall, the group voted to support the Dakin Humane Society, which operates animal adoption centers in Springfield and Leverett. While the original fundraising goal was $1,500, Master of Ceremonies Timothy Barker announced that more than $3,000 had been raised by the start of the show.

Barker began the show with an announcement from the Town of Amherst Select Board which issued a proclamation of congratulations to the Skating Club of Amherst for providing “a safe and positive environment for members’ physical, emotional and social development.”

Many skaters at the event were children and young adults from the Pioneer Valley, including students from Amherst Regional High School, Belchertown High School, Northampton High School, The Williston Northampton School, Hartsbrook School, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion School, Amherst Regional Middle School and Fort River Elementary School.

Songs used in performances came from a variety of eras and genres and many referenced pop culture icons. The Beatles, Michael Jackson and the Black Eyed Peas each had tribute medleys performed and tracks from films such as Mary Poppins, Wonder Woman and Star Wars were also featured. Broadway hits “You’ll Be Back,” from the musical Hamilton and “We Go Together” from Grease inspired segments of the show.

Costumes also played a major part in performances, often themed around the song title. A Learn-to-Skate youth group performed Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” dressed as postal workers and a show group performed Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” as featured in the 2013 comedy Despicable Me 2, dressed as the yellow minions from the film.

The skating show also featured three special guest performers. Team Excel Adult, a group of skaters both in college and working as young professionals, performed their “Wonder Woman” routine from their Adult National Gold Medalist performance from the 2018 Eastern Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships in Portland, Oregon. Ross Miner, a two-time U.S. Figure Skating National Silver medalist from Boston, performed to Ed Sheeran’s “Sing.”

UMass freshman psychology major and international level medalist Maisy Ma was the third special performer. Her self-choreographed routine to the Beatles’ “Yesterday” served as a tribute to the legacy of all the figure skaters of yesterday that performed with the Skating Club of Amherst over the past 50 years.

“It was great skating here, especially here in the Mullins Arena at UMass,” Ma said. “I had a great time with the crowd — they were amazing!”

Erin Regan-Ladd, a comparative literature freshman at UMass, has been a member of the skating club since 2004, with this being her 14th show. She performed as a soloist to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

“The skating club of Amherst has been a huge part of my life,” Regan-Ladd said after the show. “To be able to help celebrate the anniversary of an organization that has done so much for me has been such a great experience.”

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @KathrineEsten.

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