Over the course of three days in July, Highland High School student Cali Roloson participated in the 2022 Excel National Championship Figure Skating competition that was sponsored by the Boston Skate Club in Norwood, Massachusetts. Cali is a member of the Dutchess Figure Skating Club, based in Poughkeepsie.
Cali won a second place Silver Medal for her long program, where she skated solo for about 3 ½ minutes to music she chose from the film ‘Snow White and the Huntsman,’ based on the fairy tale ‘Snow White’ by the Brothers Grimm.
Cali’s mother Lisa said, “It is the one where she skates to music. In addition, she won two other medals, a 1st place Gold medal for a jumps competition and a 4th place Pewter medal for a spin challenge.”
Lisa described their arrival at the facility.
“All the skaters who qualified for Nationals got to meet with the U.S. Figure Skating President and they actually participated in a four hour training session with Olympic Team USA Skaters, which was crazy awesome. That gave all the girls competing a fun day to spend together.
Saturday was the big competition where they all did their solo programs and Sunday were the jump and spin competitions and they actually performed a show with the Team USA skaters.”
The U.S. is divided into three sections – East, Midwest and West – and 6 skaters from each section, and the next two high scorers in the country, called ‘wild cards,’ were chosen to compete in this year’s Nationals.
The National competition marks the end of the qualifying season, which starts in January and runs through June.
“At the end of that, if you’ve done what they call the Excelsior it means that you’ve done enough events and you’ve gotten a certain score to qualify,” Lisa said. “This year Cali skated in the Novice category and next year she will have to move up to the Junior section. So she needs a new program that is longer and has different elements in it that are required. They start with new choreography and a music selection now and the actual competitions will start in January again.”
Olympic skaters are considered Senior Skaters and next year Cali will be one level below that as a Junior.
“There are additional events that you have to do to try to qualify for the International Team USA. I believe the age now is 16 for girls for Olympic skating.”
Lisa and her husband Phil were in the audience watching their daughter compete.
“The event itself was definitely amazing. This was the first time she had tried to qualify and obviously did,” Lisa said. “We didn’t know what to expect because we hadn’t done it before, but it’s exactly what you see on TV, from the way they announce it, your score goes up on the board with your current place.”
After competing, the skaters get off the ice and go to the ‘Kiss and Cry’ booth, where they sit after receiving a medal.
Lisa reflected on the entire weekend.
“The event itself exceeded our expectations by far but there is a pride that I couldn’t imagine watching her do what she wanted to do and doing the best she can,” she said. “For her to medal up there was absolutely her dream come true and her name up on the board was pretty fantastic. It was a very emotional weekend.”
Cali said at the beginning of the competition, “I was super excited. It was a long season preparing and I was just really excited to be there.”
Cali said the entire event was run in a very professional manner.
“I couldn’t wait to compete and be there with everyone,” she said. “Following the competition I was so proud of myself and so overjoyed with how I did and all the support I got from my parents and everybody and it was a really great experience overall just to be a part of it. I am really looking forward to doing it again.”
Cali said she did not know what to expect since this was her first time at the Nationals, “but it was everything I hoped for and more.”
Cali said in the upcoming training season she wants to work on her spins, “but everything just needs a little improvement because obviously we’re moving up.”
Lisa had the last word.
“We’re very proud of her and we’re hoping that she continues working hard and gets to do it again next year,” she said