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This article originally appeared in the Gwinnett Daily Post - September 2, 2001

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Gwinnett Daily Post
Sunday, September 1, 2001

Practice helps Gwinnett skaters at Peach Classic

By Laura Ingram
Staff Writer
DULUTH — Lawrenceville resident Rob Lichtefeld thought competing as an ice skater seemed effeminate until he tried it.
“I never planned to compete, ever,” the 41-year-old computer programmer said about an hour before he performed for judges Saturday at the fifth annual Peach Classic, the third largest adult ice-skating competition in the country with 53 [107] competitors from 25 states and two [one] other countries.
His classmates at the IceForum near the corner of Satellite Boulevard and Ga. Highway 120 pressured him into competing, he admitted with a mock grimace.
At the competition held at the IceForum on Saturday, Lichtefeld placed second in a free style event where he performed his ice-skating moves to music while competing against men in one level above his skill.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” said Lichtefeld, who will compete in a spins event today.
Lichtefeld started taking ice skating lessons about five years ago for several reasons.
“I could never get the hang of skating backwards,” explained Lichtefeld, who also needed a hobby when his wife, Conchita Heyn, took a job that consumed their time usually spent together.
Lichtefeld’s coach helped him work on his weaknesses and his skating buddies worked on his performance confidence until he dared to perform in the last Peach Classic, where he took first place in compulsory moves and second in free style.
“Then I got hooked,” Lichtefeld said.
In his last two competitions, Lichtefeld took first place in spinning and two free style events.
To prepare for competitions, Lichtefeld spends about seven hours a week at the ice rink.
Lawrenceville resident Jennifer Silas, 35, Lichtefeld’s friend, spends about four hours a week in the rink to prepare for competitions. But the bank manager has had years of practice as a foundation.
Silas went with elementary school classes twice a week until she was 12, and then she started taking classes until college. She returned to ice skating in 1992 and started competing as soon as all-adult figure skating competitions were available in 1996.
“It really is to test yourself,” Silas explained. “It’s more than just a physical thing. It’s the mental part as well.”
Silas placed third Saturday in the spins event, competing one notch above her level, and fifth in interpretative event, where she skated choreographed moves to music.
The Peach Classic will continue today from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the IceForum on Satellite Boulevard.