Sunday, September 1, 2001
Practice helps Gwinnett skaters at Peach Classic
By Laura Ingram
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  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.