Sports

Federal Way figure skater brings home the gold at State Games of America

Clarine Long practices for the State Games of America Figure Skating Championships, where she was the Juvenile Girls Gold Medalist. - Courtesy photo
Clarine Long practices for the State Games of America Figure Skating Championships, where she was the Juvenile Girls Gold Medalist.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Being an athlete takes a lot of dedication, discipline, time and energy. Topping that with homework, chores and junior high school makes it a plateful.

Federal Way resident Clarine Long meets the challenge head-on. Long, 12, traveled to Colorado Springs for the State Games of America Figure Skating Championship, along with five other juvenile skaters. According to her coach, Natalie Thompson, Long “skated phenomenally” and is now the Juvenile Girls Gold Medalist.

The State Games of America is a national multi-sport competition held every two years, according to the organization. Athletes of all ages and abilities are able to compete in the national competition once qualifying in the top three at the state level.

Colorado Springs is considered America’s figure skating capital. Home to the U.S. Figure Skating headquarters, Olympic silver medalists Paul Wylie and Nancy Kerrigan both started in the State Games programs as kids, according to the organization.

More than 10,000 athletes from 46 states competed in 31 sports this year. The competition ran from July 30 to Aug 2. Long was one of 26 competitors to represent Washington. Long won the initial round against 14 other skaters, then took first place in the final round.

“Clarine was one of the highest level competitors from our area and the only one to take home gold,” Thompson said.

Long said her father was the one to get her into the sport. He played a lot of sports when he was younger and wanted her to have the same experience.

They tried a few different things like skiing, but Long took to skating right away. Thompson has been working with Long for the past four years.

“I’ve worked with her since she was 8, and she has always strived for excellence in everything she does,” Thomspon said.

Thompson, also a Federal Way resident, is a professional instructor who coaches at both Highland Ice Arena in Shoreline and Puget Sound Hockey Center in Tacoma. While being Long’s primary coach, instructors Corrie Martin and Darin Hosier were added to the coaching team two years ago.

Long trains five to six times a week in the summer months, at rinks in both Shoreline and Tacoma. She is a straight-A student, plays the piano and also takes ballet to help with her skating.

Long continues with her training but is enjoying her recent success.

“I’m really happy right now,” Long said.

She plans on spending the rest of her summer vacation working on her skating before starting eighth grade in the fall.

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