For pair skaters Ashyln Olson, 14, and Jacob Nussle, 16, learning to skate together has been a lesson in trust, humor and discovering at a young age what it takes to build a successful relationship.
“I think their personalities really do mesh well,” coach Steve Hartsell said. “Jacob is a little bit more laid back and Ashlyn is really, really intense and as a pair that’s what your looking for. None of us are complete people, so pair skating offers that opportunity where you can become a complete unit.”
Jacob, of Fenton and Ashlyn, of Grand Blanc, travel every day to train at the Hartland Ice House. They were paired together two years agi and have now qualified to compete at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Nationals Competition this January in Omaha, Nebraska.
The two teenagers, who are also part of the Harmony Theater Group, will travel to Spain this spring to compete for the Nations Cup.
The Hartland-based team will be competing at the Intermediate level and according to their coach, the talented skaters have an opportunity to do well, despite several injuries that have cost the team valuable training time.
Working through sprained ankles and knees, fractured wrists and concussions, the skaters say they continue to enjoy skating together and say it is different fromsolo skating.
"It's more tiring because of all the lifts," Jacob said. "But the pressure isn't all on you."
Hartsell also explains that finding two skaters who "mesh" well and can compliment and trust each other is the key to a successful pairing.
"A really good team is going to have that," he said.
A "good" team will also have their own sense of style, according to Hartsell, who says the trick is to "blend" the two personalities into one, which can sometimes be shown through their choice of music.
"We really tried to find a piece that would help them branch out more as performers and find their own style," he said.
Skating to an instrumental version of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, Ashlyn and Jacob say they have worked hard to build up their program by adding in harder throws and lifts, something that 14-year-old Ashlyn says she enjoys the most about skating with a partner.
“I like to be lifted,” Ashlyn said. “It’s only scary when you look down.”
Taking the silver medal in their Sectional competition, Ashlyn and Jacob are now focused on the big event in January which will take them to a bigger venue that will be filled with some of the country's top skaters.
"It’s going to be a little bit different experience for them but technically the competition is the same," Hartsell said. "But it will be good for them to see just how good the top skaters really are."