Skater Glides On A Dream

Former Severna Park Teen Trains Under Olympic-medalist Coaches

November 29, 1991|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Staff writer

Cortney Riffee's school day begins like most sophomores' -- out of bed by 6 a.m. and in class by 8.

But, while most 10th-graders are enjoying a well-deserved lunch break at noon, Riffee, a Millersville native, has completed her classroom studies at Delaware's Glasgow Highand is en route to the University of Delaware for extensive trainingin the demanding sport of figure skating.

By 12:40 p.m., the former Severna Park High student has taken theice at the university's Gold Rink for an hourlong workout, focusing on her single freestyle skating. She then heads across campus to Delaware's Blue Rink for consecutive 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. pairs practice sessions.

Time to call it a day? Not yet.

Once finished working with her pairs partner, Stephen Foy, it's back to the Gold Rink for onefinal hour of freestyle lessons.

Upon returning to her Bear, Del., apartment, where she lives with her mother, Diane, the 15-year-old hits the books and then bed in preparation to do it all over again the next day.

"Sometimes, I miss my friends at home, but I've made alot of new friends out here," said Riffee, who moved to Delaware to avoid a lengthy commute. "Most of my friends are skaters who have thesame schedule as I do, so it works out well."

Attracted to the University of Delaware by a coaching staff that includes former Olympicmedalists Jeff DiGregorio and Ron Ludington, Riffee aspires to one day follow in the blade marks of such Olympic pairs medalists as Kittyand Peter Carruthers, who, coincidentally, trained under Ludington.

Riffee and Foy, an Atlantic City, N.J., native, have been performing together less than a year, but already have made an impact on the novice pairs tour.

In their pairs debut at the Wilmington Open last July, Riffee and Foy captured a gold medal by a unanimous decision.In September, the duo traveled to New York City, where they claimed the goldat the Mid-Atlantic Championships. Again, the decision by thejudges was unanimous.

Earlier this month, they won yet another gold medal, at the South Atlantic Figure Skating Championships in MountVernon, N.J., qualifying them to compete in the upcoming Eastern Sectional Championships Dec. 6 in Bridgeport, Conn.

A top-four showing at the sectional competition would allow the twosome to advance to the National Figure Skating Competitions next year in Orlando, Fla. Awin or a placement at the nationals would make them eligible to compete in the 1992 Novice World Championships in Seoul, Korea.

"Things are going along very nicely and right now we're just hoping they make it to the nationals," said Ludington, who earned a bronze medal for pairs in the 1960 Olympic Games. "Cortney is a good skater and a good jumper, and her partner is very strong, so they work well together."

DiGregorio, who serves primarily as Cortney's pairs trainer, was responsible for bringing the two together and said it is their differences in style and personality that make them so compatible.

"They have a good rapport with each other on the ice," said DiGregorio. "It's a case where opposites attract. Stephen is big, strong and aggressive, while Cortney is very laid-back and very cool in competition.They complement each other well.

"Cortney was a very good freestyle skater, and I thought that with his strength and her size they would make a very strong novice team. Stephen had never done pairs and had a lot of strength, and I felt he needed to have that strength channeled somewhere."

Like any good coach, DiGregorio will give creditwhere it's due and criticism when it's necessary.

"A lot of times, Cortney and I bicker back and forth because I think her ability farsurpasses her work habits," said DiGregorio, who serves as the ice skating director at Delaware.

"She's a very talented skater and sometimes she gets a little lazy, but she doesn't miss in competition, so it's hard for me to complain too much. Cortney is a very strong jumper, very consistent, and she is not really affected by the pressure."

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