PORT RICHEY — Kaitlyn Shaw and Katelyn Williams have a lot in common.
The pair of 11-year-old fifth-graders are in the same class at Deer Park Elementary and are straight-A students, members of the Skating Academy's Senior Competitive Artistic Club at Spinnations Skating Center and multimedal winners at the 2011 U.S. Roller Figure Skating Championships that were held July 24 to Aug. 7 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
"The competition is tough because you have a lot of skaters who have been doing this for a long time, so it's very nerve-racking," Shaw said. "I was very proud of the way that I skated and so were my coaches. There are people from all over and you don't know how they skate so it makes it hard, but I thought I did really well. I've won some medals in the past, too, but my goal is to come back with a gold next year."
Shaw is a shorter, more compact and powerful skater than Williams, whose style is focused on elegance and grace. The two are coached by two-time world dance champions Melissa Quinn and Adam White, who have turned the pair of skaters into dance specialists in their own right.
"They are both very strong skaters," Quinn said. "We've spent a lot of time on improving their jumps and their efficiency so that they can take their skating to the next level. They have different looks on the floor because they are built differently, but they are both very stylish in their skating."
Shaw has been competing at the national level since age 8 and has won medals in previous years. This year she came away with a silver in the Juvenile A Girls Singles category as well as a bronze in the Juvenile A Solo Dance category.
Williams is a relatively new competitor, having only participated in her second national competition this time out. She came away with three medals: a gold medal in the Elementary B Girls Figures category, a silver in the Standard A Elementary Solo event and a bronze medal in the Juvenile/Elementary B Girls free skating event.
"I felt like I accomplished a lot to win three medals in only my second year," Williams said. "I've been working really hard and practicing five days a week. We do a lot of different things in practice and my coaches have become like family to me. They're so nice and encouraging, and we work so hard that when you win something it feels so good because we've all worked hard for it."
The girls train for 20 hours per week with their coaches while also volunteering to help their mentors by coaching Learn to Skate classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Spinnations.
"I like helping out with the skating classes because it reminds me a lot of when I first started skating," Shaw said. "It's fun to help people and watch them learn how to skate. I had people to help me and it's fun to see how people learn to enjoy skating the way I did."
The coaches say both skaters have been easy to work with because of their attitudes and passion for the sport.
"They are both great to work with because they motivate each other and are so willing to learn and give everything they have to achieve," Quinn said. "Katelyn Williams really surprised us all because of how well she did in only her second year competing. It's been a real joy to watch them achieve this together."