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3 Palm Beach County skaters place at first-ever International Solo Ice Dance Competition in U.S.

Competition held from April 25-28 in Washington, D.C.
Posted at 4:55 PM, Jun 02, 2024

LAKE WORTH, Fla. — A local skate coach has the honor of calling himself a medal-winning coach after three of his skaters went to Washington, D.C. and won the first-ever International Solo Ice Dance Competition in the United States.

If you've ever been to the Palm Beach Skate Zone, you may think it's your regular ice skating rink, but inside is a coach teaching students the technique of Solo Ice Dancing.

"We have a new discipline in figure skating called solo dance. Where instead of couples dancing together, it allows the skaters who don't have partners to compete on their own without having to jump," said coach Steven Belanger who has set a gold standard with his three skaters: Amal Israilova, Lucas Appel, and Milena Autero.

In April, at the first-ever Solo Ice Dance Competition in America. Israilova and Appel brought home gold.

"It was an amazing experience. It felt a little intimidating. Of course, it's our first international competition. I want to do really well," said gold medalist Israilova.

"It was a huge honor to win for the United States, and it was a huge honor to win with not only my training mates but also my closest friends," said co-gold medalist Appel.

For Appel, the gold medal was nearly snatched away from him after his first routine."Ultimately, there was an extra element that I did that completely invalidated one of my whole elements, so I lost a good chunk of points." So, on day two, the West Palm Beach resident was on his A-game and took home gold.

Fellow 15-year-old gold medalist Amal Israilova was filled with nerves but shook them off to win it all. "Once you get in that zone of doing what you love to do and presenting what you have for the audience as well as the judges, nothing really matters anymore. Except your passion for the sport."

Technique and timing are huge factors in the sport, and 17-year-old Milena Autero was arguably one of the most skilled skaters on the ice. However, a last-second hiccup kept her from getting the third gold of the event. "I actually made an error during my rhythm dance, which cost me quite a bit of points, and I think that was the main reason why I was left with the Bronze." Now, the future gold medal hopeful says she will use the emotion of failure to propel her to new heights.

"I want to improve my scores in both my rhythm dance and my free dance at the next competition, which is actually in two weeks in the state of Florida. That is the next short-term goal," said Autero.