CEDAR RAPIDS — Costumes, skates and the aura of competition are in the air at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. So is the pressure.
The Eastern Iowa Figuring Skating Club is hosting the 2014 Upper Great Lakes Regional Figure Skating Championships Saturday through Tuesday.
Two Cedar Rapids skaters are in the mix and hoping to shine.
“I would be so honored,” Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior Echo Cassill said. “Getting past regionals would be pretty awesome.”
Cedar Rapids Washington senior Lainey Manninen added that “it would be the highest achievement I could get.”
But with the excitement, there is that pressure.
“I try not to treat this differently than any other competition, because I don’t want to get too excited about it,” Manninen said. “So I just do my regular stuff.”
“I put pressure on myself, because at the end of the day I am my own judge,” Cassill said. “Especially with this one, because it is one of my last big ones before I graduate.”
This atmosphere is nothing new for these two. Cassill has been skating for 13 years, Manninen for 11.
They are thrilled to have this regional competition here, where their careers started.
“It’s very bittersweet, because it is one of my last competitions,” Cassill said. “But it’s great because we get home ice advantage.”
Skating in the familiar surroundings at home really appeals to Manninen.
“It’s really exciting to me, because you normally have to travel a few hours to go to regionals, sectionals and nationals,” she said.
Although this is one of the last big competitions before they graduate from high school, neither is ready to hang up their skates.
“I want to skate for the rest of my life,” Cassill said. “I would like to try out for an ice show.”
Manninen is considering ice dancing in her future.
Figure skaters from Iowa will be joined here by hundreds of others from Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. Melissa Haars, president of the EIFSC, said about 600 competitors, 200 coaches and 50 officials will fill the Ice Arena.
“This is huge, especially because it’s an Olympic year,” Haars said.
“It’s going to be exciting,” EIFSC Vice President Susan Block said. “There is just a sort of vital energy when you get that many skaters together.”