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Skater News

July 30, 2006

Galen Labotka is a patient young man. He has wanted to perform in ice shows most of his life, but college came first. Last Spring, it was time. He honed his skating skills, put an audition video together, and sent it in. Then he spent most of the Spring and Summer waiting, hoping to get a phone call inviting him to join Disney On Ice. Then, within days of each other, he received not one, but two invitations - one for the "Monster, Inc." Disney On Ice show (touring the US and Canada later this year), the other for "Festival On Ice" in Mexico, and he's planning to accept both invitations. He leaves for his first show this week.

Adam Blake also wants to be a show skater, someday. He enjoys performing "show-stopper" skills. After seven weeks of hard work with coach Larry LaBorde, he can now land the crowd-pleasing "back flip" maneuver off the harness. To top off his summer of achievement, he successfully landed a "double axel" jump last week. It's been a long time since any skater in this area has been able to land that difficult jump. It's two-and-one-half revolutions in the air -- that's a challenge to most nationally-ranked skaters. In the 44 years the Ice Chalet has been in operation, very few skaters have ever successfully landed the double axel.

Galen, 23, of 800 Longview RD in Knoxville, and Adam, 17, of 15 Brewster LN in Oak Ridge, have been students of the Robert Unger School of Ice Skating at the Ice Chalet in Knoxville most of their young lives. Galen's parents, Ted and Adrienne Labotka, are also skaters. Adam's mother and dad, Kiwako and Andrew Blake, have also been involved in a variety of activities in the Ice Chalet community over the years.

Robert Unger was a star skater for Holiday On Ice when he chose to make his home in Knoxville in 1963, and many students who grew up in the Robert Unger School of Ice Skating have been involved in ice shows, including Ice Chalet manager Larry LaBorde, teachers Jennifer Roberts Bradley, Angie Skremsky McCarter, and Michelle McKenzie Sheppard, as well as Stacey Ames, Kathy Wolff Baradakov, Margy Seagren Bennett, Heather Kilgorr, Jon Robinson, Shannon Taylor, Andi Krug Teter, and Jose Zulueta. The Assistant Skating School Director, Mary Lu Shipstad, has over 15 years of professional show skating experience, including performances as a principal soloist for Disney on Ice and serving as show director.

Quicktime video: Adam's Double Axel
Quicktime video: Adam's Cantilever
Quicktime video: Galen's Sit Spin

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