by Emily Vontom, Published August 19, 2013
To excel in ice skating, it takes years of hard work and dedication, but it all paid off for Megan Lepkowski of White Lake, Mich.
The Eastern Michigan University student and her teammates are now international and national champions.
Lepkowski, 22, and the Harmony Theatre Company's Theatre on Ice team recently took the silver medal at the Nation's Cup in Logrono, Spain in April. They quickly followed it up in June with a gold medal finish at the US Figure Skating National Theatre on Ice Competition in Troy, Ohio.
"I never dreamed I would get the opportunity to participate in an international competition, let along bring home a silver world medal," Lepkowski said. "The same goes for a national gold medal. I skate because I love it and the recognition is just icing on the cake."
Theatre on Ice (known as Ballet on Ice in Europe) is a fast-growing, yet relatively new, discipline in the figure skating world. It combines the grace and athleticism of figure skating and incorporates the creativity and excitement of the theatre to tell a story through music and movement.
The team skated to "The Circle of Life" from Disney's The Lion King. The creative free skate routine tells a tale of love and revenge in which most of the skaters turn into zombies. The routines allow for skaters to have their own individual roles in the program.
"We don't all do the same thing, which makes it interesting," Lepkowski said. "It's fun to skate on a team because we work together, support each other and develop close friendships as a result."
Lepkowski began skating when she was six years old in a learn-to-skate program. She began to skate more and was soon skating daily for three hours at Ice House Skating Academy in Hartland, Mich. According to Lepkowski, there are 16 tests a skater has to complete to become a senior free skate level skater - the highest-level skaters can reach.
"Only about 1 percent of skaters who start in learn-to-skate programs actually attain senior free skate level," Lepkowski said. "I am very proud to be one of them.
The ice skaters you see in the Olympics are at the senior free skate level, but they are extra awesome, Lepkowski says.
In 2009, when Lepkowski was already in college, her coach, Michelle Hunt, started a Theatre on Ice team. It didn't take long for Lepkowski to know she wanted to be a part of the team because it allowed her to stay on the ice, she says.
"I missed skating a lot and I knew I wanted to be a part of the team," Lepkowski said. "Theatre on Ice gives skaters, who are no longer competitive at the individual level, the opportunity to stay involved in skating."
Lepkowski is currently a senior at Eastern and will graduate in December 2013. She is studying physical education and health education and will start her student teaching this fall. She hopes to become a physical education and health teacher.
"I chose Eastern because it's known to be a great school for training teachers," Lepkowski said. "It was the best decision I have ever made."
As for her skating career, Lepkowski hopes to skate with Harmony for at least another year and after she becomes a full-time teacher, wants to coach a high school team.
"I feel great when I skate and I miss the it when I'm off the ice," she said. "I think that skating will always be part of my life and part of who I am."