Dominating Performance: Lincoln Center Skate Club cruises to state championship

For Lincoln Center Skate Club, it wasn’t so much a win in the Indiana State Figure Skating Championships’ Bette Todd Team Challenge, but more of a domination.

LCSC racked up 353 points to nearly double the point total of second-place Indianapolis Winter Club’s 178. In individual events, LCSC had 24 first-place finishes, to go along with 11 seconds, nine thirds and seven fourths.

Those winning at least one event included Yurika Yoshino, Michaela Aker, Guiliana Mackos, Amy Liu, Athena Niu, Gabriella Littleton, Zeynep Karhan, Claira Gordon, Zoey Pan, Madelyn Aker, Matilda Giger, Elise Giger, Aleah Wildridge, Anna Reed and Erica Lambert.

In addition to the state competition, two other LCSC skaters have achieved Gold Medalist Status in the Senior Moves in the Field event. Emily Martin, a senior at Columbus North, and Katherine Schmelz, a junior at North, have passed their tests.

“A lot of the tests, we have to retake,” Martin said. “It’s hard to pass the first time. My senior test, I passed on my third try.”

Schmelz is closing in on a Silver medal in solo freedance.

“It’s years of practicing edges and learning your turns,” Schmelz said.

Columbus East senior Laurel Knight has passed her Junior Moves in the Field test and Junior Freeskate and is working on her Senior Moves in the Field test and Senior Freeskate.

“It’s been a long time for me,” Knight said. “I started skating a little bit after both of these two (Martin and Schmelz), so it’s a lot of work to pass multiple tests in the year and to work on both freeskate and Moves in the Field at the same time. It’s a lot of balancing.”

Martin and Schmelz started skating when they were in preschool. Knight started basic levels in first grade and joined LCSC in sixth grade.

Liz Fernandes is Knight’s coach. Katie Baxter and her daughter Emma Baxter-Valbuena coach Martin and Schmelz.

“They all three work so hard, five days a week,” Baxter-Valbuena said. “They do about two hours a day, and they’re incredible and a big inspiration to all the younger kids that skate here. They look up to these girls a lot, and so do I, and so does my mother and Liz. They’re great skaters, and you do have to work as hard as they do to get where they are now. I’m proud of them.””

The LCSC coaching staff also includes Kelley Morris-Adair, Taylor Burdekin, Heather Lehnert and Lily Thompson. The club is preparing for upcoming events including National Figure Skating Month in January, the Columbus Invitational on March 5 at Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena and the annual Ice Show will be April 29-through-May 1 at the ice arena.

Meanwhile, Knight, Martin and Schmelz have started a high school skating team. In January, they will be sending videos for a nationwide virtual competition.

“We heard about this last year, and we wanted to do it last year, but this year, we actually were able to get it all together,” Knight said.

Knight and Martin said they plan to continue skating after heading off to college next year.

“A lot of skaters have put all this work in since they were just babies, and to go off to college and throw it all away, they don’t want to do that, which is also inspiring to many people,” Baxter-Valbuena said. “It does teach you a lot more than just skating in life. They have so much responsibility to remember all these incredible steps that are difficult and programs and the coordination. You get a lot of responsibility dumped on you to be able to fight for the place that you want to be, and they do it very well.”