by Andrea Gropman / Photos by Barry Gropman

12-USFSDC-5862Although the air outside was hot, there was plenty of coolness inside the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD, as the USFSA Ice Dance camp returned June 22-24, 2012.  Ice dance teams from juvenile to senior levels, representing clubs all across the country, again got a taste of what it takes to be an Olympic caliber ice dancer.  The rink was extra cool, as were the skating moves and classes in which the skaters participated.  Top that off with on-ice instruction from four-time USFSA Senior National Champions, 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists, and 2011 World Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and the day could not get any better, or could it?  New this year was a parent’s session with “ice moms” Cheryl White and Jacqui Davis who gave a very animated and cordial discussion of their “journeys,” and how they balanced skating and non-skating life.

The camp came on the heels of the Chesapeake Open competition, and many of the same couples that competed in the competition participated in the camp as well.  It was also possibly the first time in history that all five of the USFSA National Ice dance championship teams, from Juvenile to Senior levels, were all together to pose for the same picture.

12-USFSDC-6647Most couples had group as well as one-on-one instruction with Meryl and/or Charlie, and when not on the ice, the pair were very gracious in allowing numerous autograph sessions and photo opportunities with the younger skaters (and parents).  The event even drew a few local adult skating “groupies” to participate in the photo op with Meryl and Charlie.

After a few Friday evening and Saturday sessions, Sunday’s full day of camp started at 7:00 am sharp and finished at 4:00 pm, and focused on all the elements critical to ice dance.  There were sessions on levels of execution of required free dance elements, components, off-ice training, and instruction in expression and interpretation.  Novice, junior, and senior level skaters also had the opportunity for one-on-one critiques with International judges and officials, while parents met with officials from Ice dance for informal sessions discussing general questions about ice dance, to the more complicated issues of scoring, as well as a session with sports psychologists.

Overall, it was a great experience for all, with many of the skaters expressing enthusiasm for any future camps of this nature.  Thank you to the U.S. Figure Skating ice dance program for putting together such a terrific program, and to Meryl and Charlie, and their Mom’s, for inspiring so many young ice dancing families.