The Schwan Super Rink hosted skaters of all ages and skill levels for its annual REACH Skating Camp July 25-27, where young skaters had the opportunity to work with Team USA figure skaters John Coughlin and Gracie Gold.
Coughlin is a two-time national champion pairs skater, while Gold is a two-time national champion and 2014 Olympian.
The two skaters hosted on-ice training sessions, meet and greets, question and answer sessions and off-ice preparation seminars. Both Coughlin and Gold are making a point to make it to areas that don’t typically have a lot of elite skaters.
“I didn’t come from what’s thought of as a traditional skating powerhouse,” Coughlin said. “In Kansas City, where I grew up, there were some great skaters there, but it’s not Colorado Springs, it’s not California where Michelle Kwan did a lot of her training.”
“We made it kind of a long time in a smaller town,” Gold added. “I think the misconception is that you can buy progress … The people who work the hardest usually go the farthest. Talent, of course, can help along the way, but hard work is what really gets you through to those levels that kind of puts you ahead of everyone else.”
John Coughlin (left) and Gracie Gold pose with a young fan during a meet and greet at the REACH Skating Camp.
For Gold, her return to Minnesota brings back some fond memories. She trained at the Schwan Super Rink during the days leading up to the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, which was held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Gold went on to earn her second national title at the event.
“I hadn’t really heard of this place before, but I said ‘this has so many rinks, there’s dorms, what is this place? It’s an absolute super center,’” she said. “When we were here, it’s -5 degrees, there’s snow everywhere, so when I come back in the summer to visit, I didn’t even recognize it.”
While Coughlin has been to Minnesota for skating events, this is his first time visiting the National Sports Center.
“I’ve never been to this facility, and it’s stunning. The coaching staff, we had dinner and talked about it, and the fact that they have this much ice and off-ice resources is remarkable,” he said. “I’d love to bring some students here to teach, because it’s a good environment.”
The two skaters plan on doing skating camps around the country as much as their schedules will allow. Coughlin does commentary at major figure skating competitions, and Gold has begun training again after sitting out the 2017-18 competitive season due to mental health issues.
“Usually a lot of people retire and it’s their final nationals, or final world championships … mine just abruptly ended in a whirlwind” Gold said. “I just couldn’t leave skating on that note, so as far as new competitions and new amazing things, I definitely have those ambitions. It’s a work in progress.”
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