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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Going through her paces: Skater earns bronze

Monday, August 27, 2001

Emily Pace
SIKESTON - Southeast Missouri isn't exactly "figure skating country," but that hasn't stopped 11-year old Emily Pace from not only competing in the graceful sport, but doing well.

Emily recently captured a bronze medal at the State Games of America 2001, a program where participants showcase their abilities on a national level in Olympic-style competition.

In addition to figure skating, the event featured competitions for 14 other sports such as field and track, high diving, swimming, baseball, basketball, tennis and taekwondo among others.

Over 1,100 figures skaters participated in the games, 200 of which were at Emily's level.

The State Games this year were hosted by Missouri and held in the greater St. Louis area. "I skated at the Wentzville Icerink," said Emily. "I also skated at the Rec-Plex (in St. Peters)."

Emily earned her invitation to the national event during a competition last winter in Webster Groves where she received two gold medals and one silver competing against fellow Missouri figure skaters.

After competing in a half-dozen events, Emily has become accustomed to bringing home gold and silver medals, but she is grateful for the bronze as some of her friends who also competed came home without any medals.

"The competition was so tough," said her mother, Robin Pace. "This is the first time she ever competed and not placed in each event. It took her down a peg or two."

Pace said it was a good opportunity, however, to practice being a gracious loser as well as being a gracious winner. "We had some good life lessons at this competition," said Pace. "Hard lessons to learn."

On the other hand, Emily's competition at the State Games may not have seen the best she has to offer yet: Both her Spotlight and Compulsory routines were performed while feeling ill.

"The day before we left I started getting this headache and it lasted for four days," said Emily. She felt bad enough that she was unable to practice her routines Wednesday and Thursday before the competition that weekend as they had planned.

By the time competition day arrived, Emily was willing to go out and give it a shot, however.

"I still did Compulsories because i knew it was just one minute on the ice and I didn't want my mom to waste money on me," said Emily. "I've been skating for about two years. That's about my favorite thing to do. It's like a new adventure every day and you learn new things."

Emily was introduced to figure skating when Avary Stone, age 10, who has attended church with the Paces in Sikeston for many years, invited Emily to come watch her skate in a show. "I thought it was a rollerblading thing, then I found out it was figure skating," recalled Emily.

"We started going skating for fun and she got hooked on it," said Pace. "My first competition was at The Ice at Plaza Galleria in Cape," said Emily. "I got a first place."

Pace, her husband Stan and Emily agreed it was something worth sticking with. "It's a commitment on our part too. We are at the rink with her all the time," said Pace. "It's quite a commitment, but one we are willing to make to keep her physically and mentally fit."

Pace noted that the benefits include "not only strength and stamina, but discipline. And it teaches her grace."

Emily now studies figure skating under three skating coaches, Ashlee Hale, Sarah Booth and Shirley Wilson-Jones, a professional figure skating coach and United States Figure Skating Association gold medalist. "She gets the best of all three," said Pace. "Each teaches her different things that she will need."

Emily said she plans to keep figure skating through high school after which she plans to dedicate herself to studying for and pursuing her career. "I'd really like to be a marine biologist when I grow up," said Emily. "I plan on sticking with those goals."