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Stumptown Ice Den has new directors with Olympic ties

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 16:51:20-05

The new skating directors at Stumptown Ice Den, Sean Wirtz and Kristin Cowan, visited Whitefish five years ago and fell in love with the people and the town.

The pair were looking to settle down after touring in ice shows around the country and now plan to turn the Glacier Skate Academy into a nationally competitive program.

"We're trying to get a lot of our young ones in here so that in five years we're going to be right up at the regional level, sections, hopefully have kids go to nationals," said Cowan.

The two are no strangers to the skating world. Wirtz almost made the Olympic team with his skating partner Elizabeth Putnam in 2006.

"I've had two uncles go to multiple Olympics. I was close myself, I was an alternate....my whole life I've been skating," said Wirtz. "This is my chance to give back."

It was through skating Wirtz met his wife Kristin.

"He was looking for a partner, and somebody recommended me. And we met up for a show in Myrtle Beach and we toured together for seven years," explained Cowan.

Working together, Wirtz focuses on training jumps and spins and Cowan takes on the choreography.

"In a really short amount of time you need to execute technical jumps, spins and footwork, but you also need to tell a story or show the balletic side of skating," explained Cowan.

While they're looking to train serious, competitive skaters, Wirtz says he still wants his skaters to have fun.

"The day to day grind is never easy. The getting up at 4 a.m. and training, that's hard. But I also like to help kids with that. You do need that motivation, that extra to become a champion," said Wirtz.

Wirtz and Cowan don't compete anymore, but are excited to train the next set of competitive skaters.

The Glacier Skate Academy offer a Learn to Skate program on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Click here for more information.