Keeping the Dream Alive: Austin grad to compete in Adult Figure Skating Championships

Published 10:59 pm Friday, March 12, 2010

After taking a 10-year break from her favorite sport and taking almost 13 years to get back into the groove, an Austin native is ready to compete in the 2010 Adult Figure Skating Championships at the Ice Garden in Bloomington, Minn. April 13-17.

Karen Rothgery, a 1986 Austin grad, started figure skating again when she moved to Fort Collins, Colo. in 1997 and now she’s moving back to the Austin area this Spring. When she first moved to Fort Collins from Austin, it didn’t take long for her to put her skates back on.

“After a couple of months I had done enough hiking and enough of the outdoor sports and figure skating is huge in Colorado,” Rothgery said. “I found a local rink and I put my skates back on after 10 years. It ignited that fire again to get back at it and chase after a dream that I had as a child.”

While the fire was there, it took about five years before Rothgery, who started skating when she was 11, was skating as strong as she was when she had left Austin. She had to battle with the fear of falling and it wasn’t easy to get over at first.

“When I fell I could break things and it would hurt a little bit more. I had to convince myself I was going to be O.K,” she said.

Once she was able to find her rhythm on the ice, Rothgery started to skate competitively. Her landmark performance came when she took third in two events at the Pacific Coast Sectionals in Las Vegas, Nevada in February of 2009.

After that performance, Rothgery made up her mind that she was going to compete in the adult nationals, especially when she found out it was in Bloomington.

“That got me training really hard and now I’m just about ready to peak at the right time,” she said.

To compete in nationals, Rothgery had to perform a series of U.S. Figure Skating Association skill tests to achieve the rating of Adult Ladies Silver. She is two tests away from getting the rating of Adult Ladies Gold. She will try to take those tests in Colorado before she moves back to Austin.

Since leaving Austin, Rothgery has stayed in contact with her old skating coach, Chris Amy, who still coaches for the Riverside Figure Skating Club. Amy recalled that Rothgery started skating later than most youths and she had to work hard to catch up to everyone. She was glad to hear about her former student’s comeback.

“I was very surprised by how hard she was trying to get back to skating and I thought it was great,” Amy said. “It’s very inspiring that she was able to come back as an adult.”

Rothgery said the Adult Championships will be the equivalent of the Olympics for her and it’s someplace she’s been trying to get to since she started skating again.

“When you’re a kid it’s easier to believe in those hopes and dreams, but when you’re an adult you need a little bit more help or encouragement,” she said. “The fact that I was able to find that within myself, I knew I had to keep going. Now I’m 41 years old and I’m doing Adult Nationals. I’m proof that you can do it at just about any age.”

Rothgery is pleased to be moving back to her home town and she hopes to get into coaching, where she can help inspire younger skaters.

Competitors in the Adult Figure Skating Championships are divided into five age categories (21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60 and 61+) and two tracks (masters and adult). Events are held in singles, pairs, ice dancing and interpretive. Skaters qualify for the championship and championship gold events by placing in the top four at one of three sectional championships earlier in the year.