Port City figure skaters have Olympic aspirations

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Figure skating is one of the most popular events at the Winter Olympics, which you can see on WECT.

While the best skaters in the world are 7,300 miles away in Peyongchang, South Korea, there are some skaters with Olympic aspirations right here in Wilmington.

Twelve-year-old Van Pierson and 16-year-old Katherine Eskander hit the Ice House in Wilmington five, sometimes six days a week for workouts. Their formations are precise, full of grace, poise, and elegance with each move carefully crafted and performed almost effortlessly.

The youths, part of the Port City Skating Club founded in 2007, are blade experts on ice.

"I went to a birthday party here years ago, and I came home and told my mom I wanted lessons, so she got me hockey lessons, and I was like, 'No, I like figure skating," said Pierson, this year's South Atlantic Regional champion.

For Eskander, the sport is in her blood.

"I started skating when I was around 3, before I could talk really," Eskander said. "That's because my mother, she was born in post-Soviet Union Russia. Skating there is a big sport. She always wanted me to be a figure skater."

Eskander will be moving to Raleigh next year and taking online classes so she can skate seven days a week.

"Whenever I am out there, that is sort of my time to be me," said Eskander, who earned the top seed in intermediate free skate and finished second in last year's Powerade State Championships. "I can do whatever I want out there. Every little movement, every graceful expression and gesture makes me very happy."

With power and athleticism, Pierson, only in middle school, is hypnotizing to watch.

"I'm working towards trying to make it to nationals this year and trying to get my double axel and triple jumps," he said.

Both skaters have lofty expectations.

For Pierson, it's the Olympics. For Eskander, it's joining a circus on ice, but she'll settle for the world stage, too.

"If I could make it to the Olympics, it would be absolutely amazing," she said. "It would take a lot more training."

While they both have the occasional fall, they understand it's part of the process.

"You do a jump and you fall and you keep falling over and over again," Pierson said. "But you eventually just do it that one time perfectly and it's so rewarding. All worth it."

"It is OK to fall down," Eskander added. "If you fall down, that means that you are trying. It's a sign that you are out there doing something."

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