Bridgestone Skate America Gives Two Sisters Special Memories
by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz, special to U.S. Figure Skating
Sisters Frances and Madeline Jones share a lot of special times on ice as preliminary and pre-preliminary skaters at their home club, the Clinton Figure Skating Club, in Clinton, New York.
On Thanksgiving weekend, however, the two shared an ice experience of a lifetime, as award presenter and ice sweeper at Bridgestone Skate America in Lake Placid.
"We got an e-mail from the Olympic Center asking us to apply to be a sweeper or an awards presenter," said Madeline, 10. "They sent a letter to everyone who attended the Lake Placid Skating Camp this past summer."
The two girls applied online and found out they were chosen just as they were about to take the ice for their weekly skating lessons.
"We were at the rink and I was about to go on the ice. My mom said 'By the way, you've been chosen to be a sweeper at Skate America,'" Madeline said. "And I was like, 'Booyah.'"
Both found the experience inspiring, to say the least. Frances was a flag presenter during the ice dance and ladies award ceremonies.
"I held the second place Japanese flag for ladies and the third place Russian flag for dance," Frances said. "I walked out carrying a flag and it was hooked onto a rope and was raised during the national anthem of the first place winner. It was so cool because I was just across the ice from all these famous skaters. They gave me a turtleneck to wear and a red scarf."
Madeline was an ice sweeper for the Smucker's Skating Spectacular.
"I picked up stuffed animals on the ice that people tossed out to the skaters after their performances. I wore a blue skating dress that they provided for me," Madeline said. "I was a little nervous that I'd trip up a professional skater or make a mistake, but thankfully that didn't happen."
Seeing the skaters up close and personal was tops on the Jones sisters' list. Frances met Alex and Maia Shibutani and took a picture with them.
"But I couldn’t get my phone on in time, so someone else took the picture," Frances said. "I'm hoping they’ll send it to me. I also walked by a bunch of skaters in the tunnels of the 1980 rink."
In between skating duties, the girls were able to enjoy the special Lake Placid shops and sites, with their parents, Teresa and Peter. Like many skating fans, they also had fun visiting the many stores and collecting the special skating trading cards.
"I really enjoyed walking around town because the shops have lots of unique items, like rainbow bagels," Madeline said.
However, time on the ice as ice sweeper and awards presenter still ranked as THE BEST weekend memory.
"The very best was probably just being a sweeper," Madeline said. "It was cool to get a behind the scenes look. We got to see where they warm up, too. I was right across from the Kiss and Cry, which we always see on television."
For Frances, watching international skaters compete on the same rink where she's often competed made the experience even more special.
"Walking through the halls with all the famous skaters was amazing, because I had just seen them perform. I’ve competed in the 1980 rink and it was fascinating to see famous skaters perform on the same ice," Frances said.
Madeline Jones sweeps the ice during the Smucker's Skating Spectacular at Bridgestone Skate America
Frances Jones as flag bearer during an awards presentation
at Bridgestone Skata America