Fort Washington figure skater glides to regional championship -- Gazette.Net



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Nicholas “Nick” Huff of Fort Washington has a secret identity, just like his favorite superhero, Spider-Man, that is known to few people. By day, he is a sixth-grader at Gwynn Park Middle School in Brandywine, but by night and during the weekends, he is speeding toward his goal of competing in the U.S. Winter Olympics in figure skating. On Sunday, Nicholas was among 300 young skaters who competed in the 2012 South Atlantic Regional Championships in Aston, Pa., hosted by IceWorks Skating Club. He placed third in the pre-juvenile boys category for the non-qualifying event. Skaters who participate in non-qualifying events do not advance to sectionals or nationals. Nicholas, 12, also placed bronze in the pre-juvenile boys category at the 86th annual Middle Atlantic Figure Skating Championships held Sept. 15 to 18 at the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers in New York City. “It's fun. It's an extreme sport,” he said. “I motivate myself by watching other people.” Nicholas began skating when he was 8 at the Tucker Road Ice Rink in Fort Washington when he took group lessons with his cousins, said his mother, Nina Huff, a full-time data coach/instructor for Prince George's County Public Schools. Nina Huff said she drives her son two to three times a week for practices at the University of Delaware, a two-hour commute, where his main coaches are based, and two times a week at local venues such as the Mount Vernon Ice Arena in Alexandria, Va., and the Cabin John Ice Rink in North Bethesda. “It's an unusual sport for him to choose,” she said. “You rarely see any African-Americans in the [figure skating] sport.” Nicholas trains for about 15 to 20 hours per week with four different instructors. “He's a really talented kid and he has a lot of potential,” said head coach Megan Williams-Stewart. “He's worked really hard this year to improve, and he gets better and better and better.” On Saturdays, Nicholas skates for fun at the Tucker Road Ice Rink, where he is a member of the figure skating club. “He's just advanced very nicely as a figure skater and advancing within the USFS [U.S. Figure Skating Association] program,” said facility manager Tony Herdemian. “We're proud of his accomplishments as far as a skater and representing Tucker Road.” Nicholas is a member of the Gardens Figure Skating Club in Laurel and the United States Figure Skating Association, the national governing body of the sport of figure skating. Nina Huff said Sunday's performance will help determine how successful his chances are to begin skating in qualifying competitions next year. When he turns 14, Nicholas will move up to the intermediate level, where he will begin competing against men. On Sunday, Nicholas performed an approximate two-and-a-half minute program to a medley of songs from the 2002 movie “Spider-Man.” Nicholas, who earlier this year started learning double jumps — where a skater rotates two complete revolutions in the air before landing on one foot — said he has a few difficult elements in his program, but he is not afraid to fall. “I just get back up,” he said. mliu@gazette.net