By SEAN ROWLEY
Entering its final week for 2013, the Snowflake ice rink welcomed a special guest Friday for a figure skating performance.
Ellie Cornwell, 14, gave a four-minute afternoon demonstration to Christmas music, then welcomed children onto the ice to offer some skating instruction. She is an intermediate skill skater from Dallas.
“All my family lives here, and they never get to see me skate,” Cornwell said. “I’m doing some jumps and spins. This is for my family, but it is also for everyone else.”
Cornwell’s mother, Sonya Gifford-Cornwell, said it was important to her daughter to skate for her relatives.
“I am from this area - I graduated from Tahlequah High School,” Gifford-Corwnell said.
“My entire family lives here in Cherokee County. Figure skaters are only on the ice for three minutes, so it isn’t practical for the family to travel long distances to watch her programs. Ellie has grown up in Texas, but this is also home to her. It’s like Disneyland when we get to come back here.”
A member of the Stars Figure Skating Club of Texas and the U.S. Figure Skating Club, Cornwell recently took first place at the regional championship in Dallas.
“I won, but then I didn’t get to go to sectionals because they didn’t hold them for intermediate this year,” she said. “I’m hopeful for next year.”
Cornwell became interested in ice skating while watching performances at the Galleria Dallas.
“I used to play soccer, and one of the girls on my team used to skate,” Cornwell said
“I saw her in one of the shows at the mall, so I started taking lessons with her. She eventually quit, but I decided to keep going.”
To achieve success in competitive skating, Cornwell has put in many hours and exertions.
“Some of it seemed to come naturally, but most of it took a lot of hard work,” she said. “I had to switch coaches after my first one retired. My coach helps me a lot and she has helped me get better.”
Gifford-Cornwell said her daughter had actually visited the rink in previous days.
“She has been helping the kids all week,” she said. “She skates backwards and helps them along the ice and teaches them the basic skills.”
The Snowflake ice skating rink is across from Norris Park on Morgan Street. There are no sessions as in previous years. Hours are 2-10 p.m.
Admission for each day is $10 for all ages. Groups of 10-19 are admitted for $9 per person.
Groups of 20-plus can skate for $8 each.
The rink can be rented for $250 an hour each day at 8 a.m. and from 10:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. To rent the rink call (918) 456-0651, ext. 257.
The Snowflake Winter Festival runs through New Year’s Day. For information, find “Snowflake Winter Festival” on Facebook or visit www.snowflakewinterfest.com.