At 12, he's going for gold medal at Junior Olympics Competitor: Shaun Rogers, who fell in love with ice-skating as a third-grader, is ranked among the country's top 12 men's intermediate figure skaters.

January 02, 1998|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Shaun Rogers, a 12-year-old from Brightview Woods in Anne Arundel County, will be out for gold the third week in March when he takes the ice at the Junior Olympics in Plano, Texas.

Shaun is ranked among the top 12 intermediate men's figure skaters in the country by the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

In October, he skated in the South District competition in Tampa, Fla., where he qualified for the Eastern championships in Simsbury, Conn., in which he finished third. The top four finishers go on to the Junior Olympics.

But it is something of a fluke that he is on the ice.

When he was a third-grader at South Gate Elementary, one of the school's regular roller-skating parties was switched to an ice skating party at Benfield Pines Ice Rink, Interstate 97 and Benfield Boulevard.

Before the afternoon was over, he was begging for ice-skating lessons.

His parents, John and Joyce Rogers, had always allowed their only child to choose his activities, so they "bought him a cheap pair of skates and signed him up" for group lessons, his father recalled.

Before long, the teachers told the Rogerses that their son, now a seventh-grader at Old Mill Middle School North, should have private lessons. They hired a teacher, then another as Shaun progressed. When he started making triple jumps, his parents saw the need for more advanced instruction.

They found Pam Gregory, a Marylander who has coached ice skating at the University of Delaware for almost 15 years, and her husband, Scott Gregory, who won the U.S. ice dancing championships in 1987 and 1988 with his partner, Suzan Semanick.

At 4 feet 8 and 80 pounds, Shaun is "a very powerful, compact skater" who "reminds me of Gordy McKlellan, a national champion in the 1970s who was built the same way," said Scott Gregory.

"He can go from zero to 60 in no time. He has a good feeling for edges; he has great control. He definitely has the potential in time to go to the Olympics."

Shaun and his mother drive to Newark, Del., a 140-mile round trip, twice a week to fine-tune his double axles and triple toe loops. When he isn't in Delaware, Shaun practices at Benfield Pines two to four hours a day. His choreographer is Nathan Birch of the Chesapeake Skating School, a group of teaching professionals whose home rink is Benfield Pines.

"It started out as a hobby," said Mrs. Rogers, a nurse. "But the more committed he got, the more committed we became."

Shaun said the double axle is the most difficult thing he has to do.

Despite his schedule, Shaun, an honor roll student, finds time to play card and video games. He said he likes to watch professional skaters such as Scott Hamilton and Paul Wiley on television and have his friends over to spend the night.

Figure skating is not inexpensive. "The first good skates we bought for Shaun cost about $200," said his father, a data systems analyst at the National Security Agency. "Now we're paying about $700, and he goes through one pair a year. You buy the boots and the blades separately."

The Rogerses stress that education is more important than ice-skating for Shaun but they are willing to do whatever they can to help him.

"We can see that he loves what he's doing and that he's growing through these experiences," Mr. Rogers said. "All we're trying to do is provide him the best environment to succeed and reach the highest levels he can with the ability he has."

Pub Date: 1/02/98

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