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Thursday, March 17, 2016 12:11 am

Spotlight on Ice turns 40

Bigger and better than ever

Paige Zolnierek as Peter Pan and Hallie Griffin as Captain Hook.


This weekend, take a break from the taxes, leave the yard work, gather up the family and head to Nelson Center for the 40th anniversary Springfield Figure Skating Club celebration “Spotlight on Ice.” This year’s show promises to be bigger and better than ever.

“When people think about going to Spotlight on Ice, they’re not expecting all the lights and costumes and huge props,” says 17-year-old skater Bailey Manuel. “So they’re kind of in awe of what they’re seeing.”

The show is closer in feel to the Ice Capades than the hometown exhibition or dance recital people might be expecting, says Vicki Thomas, who has directed every Spotlight on Ice since the beginning. “In 40 years, we have developed a very professional performance. A professional contractor provides lights and sound, we have special costumes, and the set pieces are outstanding. Every year, we bring in a very credentialed guest performer and, year after year, they say it’s the best amateur show they’ve ever seen.” This year’s sets will include a western town, pirate ship, Cinderella’s carriage, and more.

Jennifer Paoni as Esmerelda, Bailey Manuel as Cinderella and MiaBella Polistina as Griselda.


Manuel has skated for nearly 10 years, competes, plans to skate and coach in college, and earned the role of Cinderella in this year’s Spotlight on Ice. “I feel at home on the ice. It’s a great feeling nothing else can give. Sometimes you feel like you can fly when you’re jumping and skating fast.” And for this anniversary show, she’ll feel like royalty. “For me, it’s like getting to be a princess for 20 minutes of my day. I never get that experience anywhere else, but I really do get to be a princess.”

Through the years, more than 2,000 different skaters, supported by approximately 50 volunteers each year, have trained and performed in the annual fundraiser for the Springfield Figure Skating Club. Many local skaters have competed successfully to earn regional ranking and national titles. Olympic medalist Gracie Gold, for one, trained in Springfield.

More than 75 skaters from ages three through adult will perform production numbers and stories this year, along with special guest and past U.S. Men’s Champion Ryan Bradley. It’s all about variety, lots of participation, and fun, says Thomas. “Skating is an individual sport, but a show provides the opportunity to work together with other skaters, teaches them how to present to an audience, and shows them what makes an audience happy – which helps them in their competitive careers. Competition is more strenuous. A show is more relaxed. What’s most important is that everyone is having fun,” says Thomas.

Everything Old Is New Again featuring from left to right, Jasmine Campbell, Jennifer Paoni, Grace Rogers, Delanie Yates-Aldrich, Bailey Manuel, MiaBella Polistina, Lauren Resch, Chauntea Mason, Emily Resch, Hallie Griffin, Alaina Ford and Aly Yociss.


Skater and performer 13-year-old Paige Zolnierek, who is this year’s Peter Pan, is an ambassador for the sport she loves. “I hope the audience feels happy and enjoys the show, and I hope some of them will want to skate after watching it.”

Contributor DiAnne Crown loves the enthusiasm, heart and courage of this year’s performers. Congratulations all!

Lexi Yociss as Adelaide Adams, Jessica Hunter as Bill Hickok and Madelyn Harris as Calamity Jane.


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