by Liz Leamy
(3 February) The Ice House, the renowned East Coast training center based in the busy industrial metropolis of Hackensack, New Jersey, honored 11 skaters, all of who train there on a full-time basis and are headed to the 2018 Olympics, with a memorable send-off show.
This sold-out event, held Saturday January 27th, marked the 20th anniversary of the Ice House and featured performances by those Olympic contenders who call the Ice House a home training base.
The show roster featured Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, the Canadian two-time World medalists and 2015 and 2016 Canadian titlists, Alexei Bychenko, the Israeli champion who was fifth at the 2018 Europeans, Nicole Rajikova of Slovakia who placed sixth at the 2018 Europeans, Alexia Paganini, the reigning Swiss champion who ranked sixth at the 2018 Europeans, Paige Conners & Evgeny Krasnopolski of Israel who were ninth at Europeans, Daniel Samohin, a lead singles contender from Israel and Adel Tankova & Ronald Zilberberg, a top dance team from Israel. Brendan Kerry, the six-time Australian titlist who also trains at the Ice House and is competing in PyeongChang was unable to be there since he was away competing at the 2018 Four Continents Championships.
Days prior to the show, a press conference was held which featured all of the 11 skaters headed to the 2018 Olympics from the Ice House, except for Kerry.
This convivial and close-knit group of athletes was accompanied by their coaches, who included Craig Maurizi, Figure Skating Director of the Ice House, Nikolai Morozov, Anton Nimenko, Roman Serov, Galit Chait and Igor Krokavec, all of who teach full time at this Manhattan area-based facility.
They were also accompanied by John P. Labrosse Jr., the Mayor of Hackensack, and David Sims, the city’s Deputy Mayor, who wished them well heading into the Olympics and congratulated them on their ability to reach such a high level of competition.
“We love the fact that you’re training here and when you’re over there [PyeongChang], embrace and enjoy the moment,” said Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr. “We wish you nothing but the best.”
During the press conference, the skaters and their coaches discussed their thoughts and feelings in regard to competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Collectively, this group expressed their gratitude, excitement and delight at having reached this point in their competitive careers and seemed particularly thrilled about heading over there as a ‘team’ hailing from this main U.S. international training destination.
“What I love is this sense of family [here],” said Kaitlyn Weaver about training at the Ice House. “There is such incredible energy and camaraderie.”
Paige Connors agreed.
“You get the opportunity to train with so many amazing athletes,” said Connors, a top Junior Grand Prix singles skater who remarkably, just began skating pairs last April. “So many Olympians have trained here.”
Daniel Samohin of Israel shared similar sentiments.
“I’m very excited to be training amongst all of these skaters and I’m really glad I get to [skate] here. There’s so much ice and you can go from rink to rink. It definitely helps to prepare [you] for a big event like this,” said Samohin, adding that he’s “really excited to go to the Olympics.”
According to Maurizi, coach of Alexia Paganini, the reason for the success of so many athletes and others based at this facility due to their passion and dedication in regard to all that they do.
“I approach running of the program in a passionate and fun way,” said Maurizi, a person who is genuinely as amiable as he is energetic. “I like that type of environment. I think it’s best for the athletes and the coaches and I feel everyone flourishes in that kind of atmosphere.”
Certainly, truer words could not be spoken, especially based upon the laughter, energy and friendliness of all the athletes, coaches, parents and others on hand at this event, something that ultimately makes almost anyone want to be part of this whole positive environment.