Our Figure Skaters head to Nationals!

Quick Read: FVIA grooms nationals-bound skaters, ice dancers

Written by Kevin Druley

GENEVA – Keenan Prochnow realized his reality soon after helping to create it.

Might as well, considering he works so closely with connections.

By teaming with Laiken Lockley to win the novice pairs competition at last week’s U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern Sectionals in Cleveland, Prochnow would be going from training in the Tri-Cities to competing in the Twin Cities.

Prochnow and Lockley have their attention fastened on January’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., one of four teams to represent The Skate School at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

“That’s exciting for us. We get to skate in that stadium,” said Prochnow, 17. “It’s a larger venue than we’ve ever skated before, so it should be interesting.”

The XCel Energy Center houses the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, and could indeed be a potentially intimidating place for young athletes.

Because FVIA skating director Rockne Brubaker, a former international pairs figure skater, aspires to help his athletes attain grand success, any such concerns are swiftly quashed.

Brubaker took the reins of the program in March 2014, and has served skaters of various skill levels alongside assistant Stefania Berton, a 2014 Olympian for Team Italy.

FVIA hosted a sectional around this time in 2014, with The Skate School producing one entry for nationals. A year later, the contingent is four times that, and everyone involved credits an enhanced atmosphere.

“The environment that the kids have to train in every day and interacting with one another, kind of pushing and motivating them, I think everyone’s kind of brought their skating to a new level,” Brubaker said. “It’s a very positive influence, and we’re starting to see some good and positive results because of that.”

Prochnow and Lockley, 13, first teamed up this summer. The same goes for juvenile pairs tandem Ryan Bedard, 14, and Isabelle Martins, 9, who also were sectional champions.

Among the arena’s two nationals-bound ice dancing pairs, the senior team of Oleg Altukhov and Kseniya Ponomaryova, age 32 and 27, respectively, have a deeper history than the recently-formed novice pair of Caleb Niva, 17, and Leah Krauskopf, 15.

Before connecting with FVIA, the team struggled to find a rink that provided as much ice time and a professional, on-site atmosphere. There also is a fitness center above Fox Valley’s two rinks.

“Training, it’s a blast here,” Altukhov said. “We’re here all day, literally. We have really good coaches.”

Brubaker and Berton work alongside a group of ice dancing coaches that include Ponomaryova’s sister, Alina, and Jamie Whyte.

“It’s grown so quickly. And exponentially,” Whyte said. “We’ve seen what the future is going to be. This is going to be a place to watch out for among the other training centers in the country, so it’s exciting.”

A very Steel Thanksgiving: Chicago Steel captain Marcel Godbout grinned at the prospect of sharing the Thanksgiving table with his parents, brother, aunt and grandparents Thursday.

The Steel have the holiday off between USHL home games at Fox Valley Ice Arena today and Friday, but Godbout isn’t zipping to his native Center Line, Mich., a northern suburb of Detroit. Instead, his host, or billet, family in Naperville is channeling the roots of the holiday and opening its doors, a common trend with the team.

“Absolutely,” said Godbout, a 19-year-old right wing. “Even if guys don’t have somewhere to go, I know my billets are willing to have people over. … The hockey community is a good community, and it’s all good people.”

Steel coach Dan Muse, who with his parents, wife and two daughters will welcome a group of assistants and club officials to his St. Charles home, echoes the sentiment.

“It just speaks to the type of people that we have here as billets,” Muse said. “All of our billets have been fantastic since day one. They’ve been great in terms of the way they’ve welcomed our players, the way they treat them as their family, and also how they’ve opened their homes to the players’ parents and their families. I can’t say enough good things about the billets and how happy we’ve been with the whole situation.”

Right wing Marc Johnstone said his family is traveling from Cranford, N.J., to join him and his billets in a meal. Family travel is invariably more difficult for the club’s five international players. On the other end, the Steel feature two Illinoisans.

Defenseman Charlie Raith of Winnetka, who billets in Wayne, will travel to the North Shore to see his family, returning a longtime favor this season.

“I mean, I don’t go home very often, but it’s really easy for my parents to come out here,” Raith said. “I’m not home a lot, but they’re out here a lot, which is nice.”

The Steel are planning what Muse called “a pretty quick skate” Thursday morning before players and coaches disperse.

• Kevin Druley is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinDruley.

GENEVA – Keenan Prochnow realized his reality soon after helping to create it.

Might as well, considering he works so closely with connections.

By teaming with Laiken Lockley to win the novice pairs competition at last week’s U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern Sectionals in Cleveland, Prochnow would be going from training in the Tri-Cities to competing in the Twin Cities.

Prochnow and Lockley have their attention fastened on January’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., one of four teams to represent The Skate School at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

“That’s exciting for us. We get to skate in that stadium,” said Prochnow, 17. “It’s a larger venue than we’ve ever skated before, so it should be interesting.”

The XCel Energy Center houses the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, and could indeed be a potentially intimidating place for young athletes.

Because FVIA skating director Rockne Brubaker, a former international pairs figure skater, aspires to help his athletes attain grand success, any such concerns are swiftly quashed.

Brubaker took the reins of the program in March 2014, and has served skaters of various skill levels alongside assistant Stefania Berton, a 2014 Olympian for Team Italy.

FVIA hosted a sectional around this time in 2014, with The Skate School producing one entry for nationals. A year later, the contingent is four times that, and everyone involved credits an enhanced atmosphere.

“The environment that the kids have to train in every day and interacting with one another, kind of pushing and motivating them, I think everyone’s kind of brought their skating to a new level,” Brubaker said. “It’s a very positive influence, and we’re starting to see some good and positive results because of that.”

Prochnow and Lockley, 13, first teamed up this summer. The same goes for juvenile pairs tandem Ryan Bedard, 14, and Isabelle Martins, 9, who also were sectional champions.

Among the arena’s two nationals-bound ice dancing pairs, the senior team of Oleg Altukhov and Kseniya Ponomaryova, age 32 and 27, respectively, have a deeper history than the recently-formed novice pair of Caleb Niva, 17, and Leah Krauskopf, 15.

Before connecting with FVIA, the team struggled to find a rink that provided as much ice time and a professional, on-site atmosphere. There also is a fitness center above Fox Valley’s two rinks.

“Training, it’s a blast here,” Altukhov said. “We’re here all day, literally. We have really good coaches.”

Brubaker and Berton work alongside a group of ice dancing coaches that include Ponomaryova’s sister, Alina, and Jamie Whyte.

“It’s grown so quickly. And exponentially,” Whyte said. “We’ve seen what the future is going to be. This is going to be a place to watch out for among the other training centers in the country, so it’s exciting.”

A very Steel Thanksgiving: Chicago Steel captain Marcel Godbout grinned at the prospect of sharing the Thanksgiving table with his parents, brother, aunt and grandparents Thursday.

The Steel have the holiday off between USHL home games at Fox Valley Ice Arena today and Friday, but Godbout isn’t zipping to his native Center Line, Mich., a northern suburb of Detroit. Instead, his host, or billet, family in Naperville is channeling the roots of the holiday and opening its doors, a common trend with the team.

“Absolutely,” said Godbout, a 19-year-old right wing. “Even if guys don’t have somewhere to go, I know my billets are willing to have people over. … The hockey community is a good community, and it’s all good people.”

Steel coach Dan Muse, who with his parents, wife and two daughters will welcome a group of assistants and club officials to his St. Charles home, echoes the sentiment.

“It just speaks to the type of people that we have here as billets,” Muse said. “All of our billets have been fantastic since day one. They’ve been great in terms of the way they’ve welcomed our players, the way they treat them as their family, and also how they’ve opened their homes to the players’ parents and their families. I can’t say enough good things about the billets and how happy we’ve been with the whole situation.”

Right wing Marc Johnstone said his family is traveling from Cranford, N.J., to join him and his billets in a meal. Family travel is invariably more difficult for the club’s five international players. On the other end, the Steel feature two Illinoisans.

Defenseman Charlie Raith of Winnetka, who billets in Wayne, will travel to the North Shore to see his family, returning a longtime favor this season.

“I mean, I don’t go home very often, but it’s really easy for my parents to come out here,” Raith said. “I’m not home a lot, but they’re out here a lot, which is nice.”

The Steel are planning what Muse called “a pretty quick skate” Thursday morning before players and coaches disperse.

• Kevin Druley is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinDruley.

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