MASON COUNTY — Everybody needs a release for the stresses of everyday life.
For Alexis Donahoe and J.D. Rappold, that outlet is figure skating. The two have been skating together since June 2010 and will soon be competing at the United Stated Figure Skating National Championships on Jan. 22 and 23, in San Jose, Calif. Donahoe is the daughter of Roger and Deanna Donahoe. Roger is a well-known and long-time employee of the Point Pleasant Post Office.
Donahoe and Rappold previously skated in Nov. in Jamestown, N.Y., where they placed fourth. It was this placement that qualified them to compete at the national level. It was also reported that they are among the top 12 in the nation at their level.
Of course, one doesn’t get to compete at the national level without dedication and a lot of hard work. Both Donahoe and Rappold reported that they started skating at a young age. Donahoe first became interested when she was only five years old. She reported that when she was young, she went with her parents to a skating rink in Ashland Park, and she wanted to go out onto the rink. Following this experience, she began taking skating lessons in Huntington. Donahoe is 17 years old, and currently a senior at Spring Valley High School. She also attends Marshall University.
Rappold reported he was around six or seven years old when he started playing ice hockey. He then decided to pursue figure skating when he was around ten years old, in order to improve his hockey abilities. Rappold played college hockey at UMBC for two years, and then returned to West Virginia, where he began to coach young children in figure skating. Rappold is 23 years old, and currently attending Marshall University, pursuing a degree in Exercise Science.
Donahoe also coaches younger children in figure skating in South Charleston, and Rappold reported that several people encouraged the two of them to start skating together. The rest, as they say, is history. In preparation for this national competition, they practice six days a week, and their coaches are Marcy and Lee Harris from Columbus, Ohio.
Rappold and Donahoe are competing at the novice level. Donahoe reported there were three levels when it comes to competing at the nationals: novice, junior, and senior. She reported that novice is like the “stepping stone.” This is the first level that allows a pair to compete at the national level.
Rappold stated that his style of skating and Donahoe’s style of skating were already very similar in the beginning, and as they continue to work together, they continue to become a better pair. He added that they are able to feed off of each other, and they can tell each other if something is wrong.
“It’s nice to have two different perspectives on things,” Rappold said.
Not only are the two able to share information regarding the proper skating techniques, but Donahoe also stated that skating in pairs also helps her cope with being nervous.
“It’s easier having someone out there with you,”Donahoe said.
As previously stated, ice- skating is both Donahoe’s and Rappold’s release from the stresses of everyday life. Both reported that when they are skating, the only thing they are thinking about it skating. Rappold stated that it’s nice to just focus on one thing, instead of worrying about work and school, and everything else that life can throw at you.
“It’s nice to have something that you continuously improve on,” Rappold said.
Donahoe reported that their goal this year was to just to make it to the national competition, and that they weren’t really concerned with how they place this year. Of course, both want to perform well at the competition, but Donahoe stated they wanted the experience of going to nationals, and that they’ll be able to use this experience not only to grow as performers, but prepare for potential national competitions in the future.
“We’re beyond excited,” Rappold said.
The United Stated Figure Skating National Championships official practice will begin on Jan. 21, with the competition beginning at 10 a.m. on Jan. 22. Portions of the competition will be televised by NBC. For airing times, and other information regarding the competition, visit www.usfas.org.