ORLEANS — For a split second, Morgan Philbrick is airborne, seemingly freed from gravity. Then, after making one and a half revolutions, she’s back on the ice to resounding applause.
Philbrick, 15, from Brewster, who was part of the Nauset High School skating team that repeated as state champions, was skating her first solo in the Lower Cape Figure Skating Association’s annual spring show, held at the Charles Moore Arena on May 20 and 21.
“We work hard for this,” Philbrick says, “and it’s fun to be able to perform and do what we love for our friends and families.” The freshman is full of nerves as she revisits her routine, but they didn’t show during her performance set to the Elton John single “Your Song.”
The show, “Icons on Ice,” offered plenty of dazzle to go along with hits by Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Elvis, and other stars.
The venue, which played host to a standing-room-only crowd for Nauset hockey just a few months ago, had been transformed with black curtains and a string of lights along the boards. A trio of spotlights captured the action, which included double-flip jumps, loop jumps, forward illusion-layback spins, and camel catch spin-backs. This sport involves terms as dizzying as the moves they describe.
“I just breathe — a lot,” says Nauset junior Ashley Tortora about how she prepares to take the ice. “I keep telling myself that I’ve got it, and I go out there and I do it.”
Tortora, 17, from Brewster, was named Charles Moore Arena’s Queen for 2023, which honors not only her dedication to the sport but the fact that she is a role model for younger skaters and peers in the association. She and her court, consisting of Philbrick, Amari Rizzardini, Mikenzie Eldredge, Dori Walsh, and Victoria Letendre, performed a moving interpretation of the Beatles song “Let It Be.”
Suddenly, a remixed version of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” by Elvira kicks in, and Dori Walsh comes to life on the ice, beginning her routine leaping through the air with a stag jump. She twists, spins, and drops to the ice, using her arms as an extension of her expression.
“Figure skating is so different from other sports because we get to feel the music,” says Walsh, 16, a junior at Monomoy High. She also likes the chance to be creative in choosing elements for her program. “And I love hearing the crowd clap,” Walsh says. “Everyone goes crazy when we land our big jumps.”
Rizzardini showcased power and attitude during her routine, set to “Think” by Aretha Franklin. At one point, she paused facing the crowd and wagged her pointer finger, Aretha-like, before gliding off.
“I thought I was going to be so much more nervous than I was, but once you get out there, you’re in your own little world,” says Rizzardini, 15, a Nauset freshman from Brewster. “You have to think how many times you’ve landed those jumps at practice,” she says, “and then block everything else out.”
Tortora agrees on that strategy for focusing: “I’m just so in the moment that I don’t hear the crowd until the end.”