WAYNESBURG – When Bethany Stauffer was five years old, after watching figure skating on a television program, like many other young girls she expressed to her mother a desire to learn to skate.
At the time, she and her family were living in the Somerset area, so her mother, Julia, took her to Planet Ice in Johnstown for beginner skating lessons.
Rev. Gregory Stauffer, Bethany’s father, said she took lessons for some time and then she participated in her first competition.
“That is when the bug bit her and it just kind of took off,” Gregory Stauffer said.
Stauffer and his family moved to Waynesburg almost nine years ago where he is the pastor of the Rolling Meadows Church of God in Waynesburg. He explained at that time Bethany began to travel to the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center on Neville Island five days a week for lessons and practice.
Now at age 14, Bethany Stauffer has chosen a lifestyle very different from most teenagers.
“When I was little I learned to skate,” she said. “A few years ago I made the decision to pursue homeschooling so I could dedicate my time to the hours of practicing I need for my skating.”
Bethany Stauffer is now a ninth grade student in PA Cyber Charter School and maintains a high grade point average.
Her coach is the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal Champion Elena Valova. Russian-born Valova was also an Olympic Silver Medalist in 1988 and is a three-time World Champion.
Valova moved to Pittsburgh in 1997 with her son Roman and husband German Galusha and began her coaching career in the area.
“It is hard,” Bethany Stauffer said. “I work so hard at my skating and have to keep up my grades at school, but it is what I want to do.”
“I would like to take my skating as far as I can,” she added. “When I am done competing, I would like to coach other students.”
Gregory Stauffer said most people do not realize the amount of coaching and practice that goes into skating.
“What you see on television, there is a year of work behind that one jump,” he said. “When you see a skater land a jump and they make it look so easy, it is not.”
He explained that his daughter often wears protective padding to keep her from being injured in the repeated falls that occur learning a new jump.
Routines must be learned and the eight tests in each category of the United States Figure Skating, which is the governing body for the sport of figure skating, must be mastered.
He said she has a good rapport with Valova, but she is a tough coach.
“Bethany will work and work and Valova will say in her Russian accent, ‘Spin no good,’” he said. “This is a very interesting lifestyle that involves a serious commitment by the entire family. My wife and I even have Skaterdad and Skatermom license plates on our vehicles.”
“As long as she has the interest and dedication,we will support her 100 percent,” he added. “But as soon as we have to start fighting her to have to go to practice, it will be time to rethink her involvement in the sport. But I don’t really see that happening.”
Bethany Stauffer’s hard work is shown by the large amount of awards she has already won.
er next competition will be in the Pittsburgh Figure Skating Club Skate Pittsburgh 2013 competition, which will be held at the end of September.