LorRae Portner to Compete in US National Dance Figure Skating Championships | News, Sports, Jobs
KALAMAZOO, Michigan – Next weekend, the US Figure Skating Solo Dance National Final will be held in Kalamazoo and feature a skater with a connection to the New Ulm Figure Skating Club.
LorRae Portner, 15, competes in the Juvenile Solo Dance Combination Event September 17-19 in Kalamazoo at the Wings Event Center.
Portner started ice dancing at the age of nine, but said she was relatively old to start skating. Portner said that at this age she had a lot of energy and her grandmother would take her skating to burn off the energy. She grew up loving him and soon her mom Holly Portner let her take classes.
At the time, the Portner family were living in Winthrop and taking group lessons at Hutchinson. Portner wanted to take private lessons, but these were not available at Hutchinson. Her mother worked in New Ulm and there was more skating training available here.
The family moved to New Ulm and LorRae joined the New Ulm Figure Skating Club. For four years she trained with New Ulm coach Kathy Bjorkstrand.
Portner’s mother Holly said she noticed in those early classes that her daughter was interested in what other skaters were doing. LorRae was always asking questions about what they were doing in higher grade classes.
Portner said that without the New Ulm Figure Skating Club she would never have made it to the regional or beyond.
“Kathy taught me a lot about sports”, said Portner. “She taught me to never give up and how to take advantage of it and enjoy it.”
It was an important lesson for Portner and his family. Many skaters enter sports with the intention of reaching the medal podium, but Portner said if you don’t have the joy of skating, you can’t get far.
Portner specializes in ice dancing. She said that ice dancing is different from figure skating. Figure skating focuses on jumps and pirouettes, but on ice, dancing footwork is popular.
She said it was often equated with ballroom dancing. Ice dancers are meant to follow a pattern. In qualifying the model was based on the tango, but for the finals the model is based on the foxtrot.
The Portner family moved to the Twin Cities in 2019 to provide further training to LorRae. However, shortly after moving, she suffered a major injury. She suffered a reversal injury in June 2019 that left her with a deep bone bruise in her talus (ankle) and a stress fracture.
Many skaters who sustain injuries drop out of the sport. Recovery takes time and there is no guarantee that the skater will fully recover.
Portner had physical therapy at Edina twice a week for a year and had her skate around 70%. She resumed training and rolled her ankle again in February 2020.
His second injury made recovery time worse. It has been a difficult season. Portner and her family feared she would never skate again.
This delayed his ability to start competing when the season began in April, his mother said. Her first competition was in June and she only had a month back on the ice to prepare.
“I had to train off the ice for a while”, said Portner. “I slowly came back to the ice. “
Upon his return to the ice, Portner began to compete in the qualifying rounds. Although she came out of an injury, she still managed to place herself high in the competition.
To participate in the National Solo Dance Skating Final, a skater must first qualify. LorRae explained that skaters are selected based on their highest scores in competitions.
The top six skaters are selected from the three national regions. Portner made the top six for the Midwest region. Going national places her among the top 18 ice dancers in the country.
This competition takes months to prepare. Portner trained several hours a day for months to compete. She takes off Wednesdays and Sundays, but the other five days of the week she skates for at least three hours. It’s a less grueling program than many ice dancers, but Portner said she is still recovering from an injury.
Portner said qualifying for the final made his hard work worth it. She is happy to have the opportunity to compete and still enjoys ice dancing. She still remembers the lessons she learned from the New Ulm Figure Skating Club and the importance of doing so for the love of the sport.
Portner will compete in the National Solo Dance Final as part of the Juvenile Solo Dance Combine event next week, September 17-19.