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A Blur on the ice

n Chad Phillips has the unique honor of skating at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships

Posted: March 5, 2009 2:03 a.m.
Updated: March 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Chad Phillips, a 17-year-old student at Hart, puts on his skates Monday at Ice Station Valencia. Phillips will take part in the opening ceremony for the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships in late March at Staples Center.

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He was a burgundy and black blur. The cold of the ice swept with him, bringing a freezing breeze.

The circles and twists and jumps that he made appeared so free.

“He’s intimidating when he comes out here,” says his friend and fellow figure skater, Canyon High senior Jessica Terzian, watching him as he practiced Monday at Ice Station Valencia.

She explains that the intimidation comes from the height of his jumps and the precision of his practice.

Chad Phillips, a 17-year-old senior at Hart High, is one of a few.

Phillips is one of a few accomplished male figure skaters in the Santa Clarita Valley.

He is also one of a few figure skaters participating in the opening ceremony at this month’s World Figure Skating Championships at Staples Center.

Just 15 skaters, seven males to be exact, were hand-picked to be part of the program. Its theme is: the future of world figure skating.

Phillips, who has been figure skating since he can remember, was asked by the ceremony’s choreographer and five-time gold medalist at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Randy Gardner.

“It didn’t set in for a while until I thought about it,” says Phillips. “I guess people think I’m good.”

Gardner did homework for his selections, checking around Los Angeles County’s ice rinks and talking to ice skating teams.

In Phillips, Gardner sees a ton of potential.

“Chad’s really the future of national and world figure skating,” Gardner says. “He’s a powerful, young-looking skater that people look at.”

Phillips’ mother Carrie was a competitive skater as an amateur, then skated for the traveling entertainment show Ice Capades for six years.

She has been a figure skating coach for 24 years.

Carrie got her son into figure skating when he was in diapers.

“He had a passion for it,” Carrie says. “When he was 6 years old, we had him in hockey and figure skating.”

He quickly chose to focus on figure skating.

“I think I wanted to jump,” Phillips says on what made the decision for him.

Around that time, Phillips began to win competitions.

Phillips competes at the novice level, which is two steps from competing with the seniors who skate for Olympic gold.

Figure skaters are judged by ability and elements of their routine and testing by the U.S. Figure Skating Association determines what level skaters will compete at.

Gardner says in two years, Phillips could compete at the senior level.

Phillips has competed nationally and been successful in singles and pairs competition.

He has placed in the Southwest Pacific Regional Championships six times, including two golds in pairs competition.

Phillips has also placed twice at junior nationals — once as an individual and once in pairs.

But his partner quit last June.

Worse, last July, Phillips was circling the ice at Ice Station with his usual combination of speed and power.

Coming around a corner, he crashed into an open door.

Phillips says his doctor estimates the speed at impact was around 50 miles per hour.

The result of the accident was a broken left arm and time off.

Phillips has two steel rods going from his elbow to his shoulder.

Carrie says her son would be at the junior level by now if the injury had not happened.

Because of the injury, he has not been able to skate in pairs because he would need power and bone strength to lift a partner.

But he still has power and strength in his legs.

Phillips skates six, sometimes seven days a week.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, he’s on the ice for three hours.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he’s on for two hours.

Phillips says he runs a couple of miles after dinners, too.

“I get tired,” he says. “But never tired of the sport.”

All of this training allows him to balance, use body control, leap, spin and speed on the ice.

On Monday, he snaked around the outer edges of the ice, wearing a burgundy sweatshirt and black pants.

He spun like a top, slowed down, all with a leg parallel to the ice.

His gained control of his body at high speed.

“It feels like riding in a convertible,’ Phillips says.

Gardner describes his skating this way: “He soars.”

cosborne@the-signal.com

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