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Bemidji Figure Skating Club: Fantasy on Ice to showcase nearly 80 local skaters; program will also feature state champion

Ally Kuznia, 14, a member of the Bemidji Figure Skating Club, practices her sit spin at the Neilson-Reise Arena in Bemidji. She is one of dozens of skaters who will participate in the Fantasy on Ice show held Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20, at the Sanford Center. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Sarah Haman understands the passion, physical demand and emotions that come along with figure skating.

"It gets in your blood," said Haman, a Bemidji Figure Skating Club coach.

The Bemidji Figure Skating Club's 44th Fantasy on Ice show, coordinated by Haman, will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 19, and 1 p.m. Sunday, March 20, at the Sanford Center.

Tickets cost $7 for adults and $4 for students in grades K-12 and can be purchased at the door.

This year's show, "Kaleidoscope on Ice," will showcase the skills of nearly 80 skaters from the area.

"It's all about colors this year," Haman said. "It's something we've never done before."

Also featured will be 15-year-old skater Daniel Kulenkamp from Mahtomedi. Kulenkamp is a member of the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and the 2010 intermediate winner at the Minnesota figure skating championship.

Bemidji hosts one of the few figure skating clubs in northern Minnesota that have access to ice all year, said Kathy Quamme, a coach and BFSC board member.

The BFSC, a nonprofit organization, offers lessons to youth in grades preschool through high school. The club offers basic skills, weekend mini camps, and junior advanced and advanced lessons.

Wren Warne-Jacobsen, 7, is one of the club's youngest advanced skaters. She has only skated for two years and has already completed eight basic skill levels. During a practice in February, Warne-Jacobsen spent time practicing her axle jump, where the she makes one and one-half turns in the air.

When asked what she enjoys most about figure skating, she said "all of it, except falling."

Ally Kuznia, 14, a student at Bemidji Middle School, has been skating since she was 5 years old. After watching an Olympic figure skating team on television, she said was hooked.

Kuznia said one of the most challenging tricks she has mastered is a double toe jump, which involves using the toe pick on one skate to vault up in the air.

"It took me a long time to get that one down," she said.

When she is not competing or practicing, Kuznia also helps coach some of the younger basic skills skaters.

Kuznia said most people are impressed with her figure skating.

"They say I make it seem so easy, but it is really hard," she said.

Skaters who make it to the advanced skating program need to be mentally dedicated in order to move up, Haman said.

"I would say the personality of a skater has to be very dedicated and you have to be able to work well on your own," Haman said. "Self-motivation is a good thing."

Michaela Moudry, 12, a student at St. Philip's School, started skating when she was 7 years old. She remembers watching the movie, "Ice Princess," while her house was being remodeled.

"We just got hardwood floors and I put on slippery socks and pretended to skate," she said. "One day my mom brought me to a store and bought me my first pair of skates."

The BFSC hosts the Funtastics Basic Skills Competition every winter at the Neilson-Reise Arena in Bemidji. This year, 40 skaters from Bemidji, Bagley, International Falls, Grand Rapids, Thief River Falls and Brainerd competed.

"It is low key and everyone gets an award," Quamme said. "It is held to encourage skaters to want to work their way up to bigger competitions."

Figure skating can be costly, depending on the quality of skates, costumes and coaching, Quamme said.

However, she said, figure skating is not as expensive as some sports, such as hockey, because skaters can choose which competitions they want to participate in.

"We try to encourage kids to go to neighboring competitions," Quamme said.

Currently there are eight boys, ages 4 to 6 years old, participating in the basic skills lessons at the club.

"A lot of the boys join to get the basics of skating before they go into the hockey program," Haman said. "The hockey program encourages it because when they get to hockey, they get dressed in their helmet, stick and gear and are taught how to shoot the puck. They are not taught to skate as much."

Haman said some of the older female figure skaters at the club leave figure skating to play hockey.

"It's fun to see kids grow when you coach them and to gain self-confidence," Quamme said. "It's neat to see their growth in skating and as a person."

"It's fun to share something you are passionate about with young kids because you get to experience it again through their eyes," Haman said. "It makes it fun again."