Skating Through Life
With Eagle’s new ice rink and hockey becoming a favorite sport among little guys and gals, skating is where it’s at. It’s the thing to do, but what about a decade ago when we didn’t have all of these facilities down-valley?
Two seniors at Eagle Valley High School chose to make skating a priority, and they are leaving high school and heading for college with that skill honed. Keegan Keltner was the only Eagle Valley student on Battle Mountain’s successful hockey team. And senior Sarah Wood was a competitive figure skater who now teaches skating classes for WECMRD (Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District).
This past season, Battle Mountain’s hockey team made it all the way to the semi-finals, and Keltner was known on the team as the executor ” getting the plays going and making things happen. “I started skating when I was about 8 years old ” we were living in Vail and that’s when I started hockey,” Keltner says.
Keltner’s first coach was Brian Hanson in Vail’s Jr. Hockey Club, and once Keltner moved down valley, his dad Kraig made the drive to Vail three to four times per week for hockey practice. “My dad would drive me up there and wait until I got done,” explains Keltner. He adds that his dad’s best advice to him has been “don’t give up.”
Keltner also plays golf and baseball for the Devils. He’s impressed with the new facilities in Eagle. “We have great ice in Eagle now ” there is total support for kids here,” says Keltner. When asked about the recent incident where Colorado Avalanche player Moore broke his neck from a cheap shot, Keltner responds, “I think he should get criminal charges,” Keltner says of the player who got suspended for the cheap shot. “There’s no excuse for that.”
Keltner is deciding between Mesa State College in Grand Junction or playing junior hockey in the near future. This summer, he’ll work for his dad peeling logs at Colorado Log Furniture. We asked him if his dad thinks he’s a good worker. Keltner smiles, “When I put my mind to it.”
Sarah Wood started figure skating at 6 years old when she was living with her family in Denver. “I started competing at 9 years old, and it was extremely competitive,” says Wood, whose house displays her ribbons and trophies from skating competitions.
Figure skating is different than hockey in that it requires more leg strength, finesse and coordination. “My older brother was playing hockey and I wanted to be like him,” says Wood. So her parents signed her up for the peaceful sport of figure skating. Now, Wood works with 4-7 year olds at Eagle’s new rink. “The new rink is so nice, I wish we would have had it earlier,” sighs Wood. She says she loves working with the kids, although some of the groups of boys are a little wild.
One thing Wood cautions parents of young skaters ” don’t push your kids too hard. “Stick with it if you start, but my parents were never pushy ” which made me want to do it more. They were just very supportive,” explains Wood. After working for the town of Gypsum in Grounds and Maintenance, Wood is heading to Colorado State University to pursue a degree in a health-related field.
Both Wood and Keltner say that skating builds incredible strength and coordination. They also report that skating can be a great stress release and once you’re on the ice, the stress of the day melts away. And that makes you a more enjoyable teenager and keeps you from skating on thin ice.