HELENA — Eleanor “Ellie” and Emily Weaver of Great Falls are standouts on the ice who qualified for a national event in Ames, Iowa, at the end of July. They took home a combined four gold medals without a home ice rink to practice at. They commuted 90 miles to Helena, which has year-round ice.
“It's impressive that they were able to do as well as they did in Iowa after having a disadvantage,” said Coach Jill Ahlbrecht of the Great Falls Figure Skating Club.
Disadvantage meant nothing to these two.
State Games of America held at Iowa State University is where they took gold. Although winning medals is the highlight for some, Eleanor received one of the highest honors - carrying the Montana state flag in the opening ceremony. The Olympics-style event held a ceremony that welcomed representatives in all sports across the 50 states.
“I’m happy to represent Great Falls Figure Skating Club and just Montana in general, because our club is small. So, it felt really good to have our small club have their little moment.” Told Weaver.
Ahlbrecht added, “We walked into the Coliseum. She's holding the flag and there's just like an uproar of cheer from the crowd as we get to represent Montana.”
The pride of Montana flew high that day and throughout the week. The pride that Ellie felt carrying her home states flag carried over to the pride she takes in her craft. Younger sister Emily shared that she wants to be like her sister one day. Although she can be tough to work with at times, she admires the time they spend together on the ice.
“I’m very, very proud of her and that she did amazing… She’s a good person and I look up to her.” Said her sister.
"It is a huge honor to teach some kids that are so dedicated, and they are willing to travel across multiple states to be with a competition like that.”
The Great Falls Figure Skating Club is one of the oldest skating clubs in the United States. It currently has about 20 members and is looking to add more to the team. Coaches shared that the club used to skate in the Gibson Pond and wants to reach out to alumni who are still in the
area. They host classes for all skill levels and ages, but most importantly wants to share the passion for competitive ice skating.
The city of Great Falls currently does not have year-round ice and that is why skaters like the Weaver sisters commute to Helena. Ice rinks in Great Falls typically shut down for the summer seasons, Ahlbrecht said they had one extra month of ice this year which isn’t normal.
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