For a sliver of time in mid-January, Detroit will be more desirable than anywhere in the Pikes Peak region.
That’s because for ice dancers Davis Ortonward and Romy Malcolm, both students at Manitou Springs High School, a chance to compete together at the upcoming in the GEICO U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 19-27, awaits.
Ortonward, representing the local Broadmoor Skating Club, and Malcolm, a resident of Lethbridge, Alberta, who competes for Ontario, Calif.-based All Year Figure Skating Club, recently qualified for nationals, combining rigorous training schedules around making sure both are still thriving in the classroom.
“Having a flexible school schedule has been huge,” said Ortonward, 15, a sophomore with two previous qualifications to nationals. “There’s a lot going on. We skate before school, then we go to school and we’re back at the rink after school. I want to get an education, and I’m happy our school can help us do both. If they couldn’t, we wouldn’t be able to practice as much and I’m sure we wouldn’t be able to get as far.”
In November, the new pair placed third in the sectional championships at Salt Lake City to earn one of 12 national spots — only the top four finishers at each level in each discipline at the sectionals advance to Detroit. That came after the two emerged through regional competition.
And for Malcolm, it’s a completely new experience after recently switching from singles competition to ice dancing, then taking it to another level by uprooting from her Lethbridge, Alberta, residence with her mom, Cia, to temporarily find a home in Colorado Springs to train alongside Ortonward — totaling more than 20 hours per week — and also hitting the books as well.
“It was like I was starting over again,” Malcolm, a high school freshman, said. “I had tested at dance and knew I was kind of good at it and was told I should compete in that discipline. Jumps are fun to work on but frustrating when you can’t land them, but I like the elements in dance much more.”
Now, they’ll find themselves in Detroit, a city that’s hosting nationals for the first time in 25 years, an event infamously remembered for the knee-wielding attack on Nancy Kerrigan carried out by Tonya Harding, ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and cohort Shawn Eckhardt to make sure Harding made the U.S. Olympic team.
All junior free skate/dance and championship level events will be held at the newly opened Little Caesars Arena, and all junior short programs/dance, novice, intermediate and juvenile events will take place at the Detroit Skating Club.
Ortonward and Malcolm are one of 12 ice dancing pairs competing in the intermediate division.
“It means a lot to go to nationals, and with a more committed partner, I feel stronger about our chances this year,” said Ortonward, whose last nationals came in 2016 at St. Paul, Minn. “Sometimes, skating out in a large arena can be nerve-wracking, but that’s why you do run-throughs and go through all the hours of practice. All we can do now is show what we can do, and whatever happens, happens.”