PLAINFIELD – Curious. Impressed. Interested.
These are people’s reactions when they see Skyler Schmid of Plainfield and Nicholas Beckwith of Lombard in action. The 10-year-olds have skated since they were 3, competed separately since they were 6 and began working as partners a year ago.
“People connect to the sport,” Cheri Packard of Shorewood, Skyler’s grandmother, said in an email. “Almost everyone fondly remembers roller skating at their favorite rink. [But] most people are unaware that it is a very competitive sport, much like they see on TV.”
The dynamic duo placed first in several competitions this past year. In July 2016, Skyler and Nicholas took third at the USA Artistic Skating National Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska, Packard said.
They represent the Lombard Skate Club and take lessons from coach Jim Mueller, Packard said.
“I have a lot of people watching me. I feel like a star,” Skyler said. “It makes me nervous and excited at the same time.”
Has she ever fallen? Of course! During a competition? Yes, but that doesn’t bother Skyler.
“I just get up and keep going,” Skyler said.
The motivation behind Skyler’s talent and enthusiasm is Packard. Roller skating is part of the family’s history. Packard said her parents were competitive roller skaters and met at the former Riverview Roller Rink in Chicago.
Packard herself competed, often on a national level, with her life partner and skating partner, Richard Morgan, until 1997. Nicholas is Morgan’s grandson.
Although Packard’s daughter and Skyler’s mother, Kelli Schmid of Plainfield, enjoyed roller skating for fun, she never developed the same fondness for the artistic sport.
“I was a gymnast and a cheerleader,” Kelli said.
Like any sport, artistic roller skating requires rigorous practice, about two hours twice a week, Nicholas said. Skating singles is definitely easier than picking up Skyler while standing on wheels, but both have two requirements.
“You have to have good balance and not be afraid of falling,” Nicholas said.
Skyler’s little sister, Summer, also skates, but she took a sabbatical after she broke her arm in May, Packard said. Also, Summer is not as keen on competing.
“I just like practicing,” Summer said.
AND THE WINNER IS ...
Below is a listing of Skyler Schmid and Nicholas Beckwith’s competitions to date, according to information submitted by Cheryl Packard, Skyler’s grandmother.
• May 2015 – Won first place at Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin Artistic League in Lombard.
• June 2015 – Won first place and qualified for USA Roller Skating National Championships at Great Lakes Artistic Skating Championship regionals in Lombard.
• July 2015 – Won fourth place at USA Artistic Skating National Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
• January 2016 – Won first place at IIWAL in Aurora.
• February 2016 – Won first place at IIWAL in Aurora.
• May 2016 – Won first place at IIWAL in Lynwood.
• June 2016 – Won first place and qualified for nationals at Great Lakes Artistic Skating Championship regionals in West Chester, Ohio.
• July 2016 – Won third place at USA Artistic Skating National Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska.
• Figures – Skaters are judged on their tracing of the figure circle, execution of turns and takeoffs, and posture.
• Singles – Judges look for speed and height in jumps, control, velocity and variety of position in spins, and originality and confidence in the footwork segments.
• Pairs – Skaters execute simultaneous spins, jumps and footwork, punctuated by exciting and physically demanding overhead lifts. Contestants are scored according to both technical merit and manner of performance. Harmony with the partner is key.
• Dance, solo or team – This is the only individual event where men and women compete against each other. Judges look for timing, posture, accuracy of steps and musical expression.
• Precision team skating – Required elements are: circle, line, wheel, intersecting lines, block and three different handholds. Teams may consist of men and women.
• Show skating – Similar to precision team skating, except props or accessories may be used.