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Star quality: Nine-year-old Bemidji girl to train with world-class skating coach

An ice storm initially kept Wren Warne-Jacobsen from first trying ice skating four years ago.

Today, it would take a whole lot more than that to keep the championship figure skater from the ice.

“I like going fast,” Wren said. “It makes me feel like I’m flying.”

Wren, 9, of Bemidji has been selected for a prestigious seminar led by Alexei Mishin, a Russian figure-skating coach who has trained Olympic champions. Wren will spend Jan. 3-10 in Tartu, Estonia.

“She can really benefit from working with one of the best coaches in the world while she’s still developing,” said Ann Eidson, who for two years has been Wren’s head coach through the St. Paul Figure Skating Club.

Just like providing a master sculpture with fresh, moldable clay, Eidson said Mishin will work with Wren as she develops as a figure skater.

“She’s just really in the beginning of her skating career,” Eidson said. “We can really mold her into an international champion.”

Wren, at 5 years old, first planned to try ice skating in St. Paul at a meet-up with fellow homeschooled children, but an ice storm grounded her in Bemidji.

Wren does some stretching exercise with the help of skawith the help of skating coach Debbie, better known as Mom.

Her mother, Debbie, a former figure skater herself, instead brought Wren to a general skate at Neilson-Reise Arena and Wren put skate to ice for the first time.

“She loved it,” Debbie said.

Wren enrolled in classes and within a year was competing and taking part in ice shows. Two years ago, she linked up with the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and now is coached by Eidson, who is assisted by Ben Miller and Debbie, Wren’s mom.

Wren last year was named the Minnesota state champion in pre-preliminary.

“The artistry in her skating is what sets her apart,” Debbie said, “the way she interprets the music.”

Eidson first saw Wren in a summer basic-skills camp and then at a competition.

“Her quality, then for a 7-year-old, was amazing; she was so polished,” Eidson said. “She was skating from the joy in her heart, she loved being out there on the ice … She had a star quality in every sense of the word.”

Wren, who loves performing jumps, is proficient at single axels, double loops and double toes. She is learning to master a double salchow and double flip, both of which she has landed, but not consistently.

“It is timing and jumping high enough, rotating fast enough,” Wren said. “It comes with doing it many, many times.”

Wren spends about 15 hours on the ice a week, and spends two and a half days in St. Paul for practice each week. Her parents, Debbie and Drew Warne-Jacobsen, planned on homeschooling her before she was born, so ice skating fits into her life.

Her favorite school subject is science. And art, which, she noted, she does every day through figure skating.

“I love it,” she said. “I like learning new skating techniques and just improving. I’m really excited about going (to Estonia).”

Wren will be going to Estonia along with two other members of the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and Miller.

Mishin has been Eidson’s mentor since 1998, when the U.S. Figure Skating Championships were held in St. Paul. Eidson said he trusts that when she sends him a skater, they are at a level he can work with.

“I suggested Wren to participate because of her exceptional ability to focus and make corrections,” Eidson said. “I knew that her intense focus would be a perfect match for professor Mishin.”

Wren plays with some Victorian dolls that belonged to her great-grandmother. In the background is an American Girl doll.

Mishin, a former championship pair skater, has coached several Olympic figure skaters, including 2006 gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, a three-time Russian senior national medalist.

“It’s always up to her; she always has the final say,” Debbie said of Wren’s future in figure skating. “Our job is to give her the opportunity to go as far as her abilities can take her.”

How far is that? Eidson noted that Mishin has developed championship skaters from age 7 all the way to the Olympic level.

So the question begged to be asked: are the Olympics in Wren’s future?

“That’s what we’re aiming at; we’re making every choice for that plan,” Eidson said. “And that’s why we’re going to Estonia.”