Niles skaters take home trophy
Wyatt Zwik, 11, of Niles dressed as Gru from "Despicable Me" skates with the theater production team from Iceland skate rink at the 33rd annual Sweet Heart Open on Feb. 17 in Niles. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:55AM
NILES — Wearing yellow shirts and blue overalls, a group of minions from “Despicable Me” skated their hearts out and took home a first place trophy.
The 33rd annual Sweetheart Open Figure Skating competition was held at Iceland skating rink in Niles on Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17. Iceland skaters won first place for their theater production program that was based on the movie, “Despicable Me.”
About 30 skaters from Iceland, ages five to adult, participated in the performance.
“It represents Iceland,” said Amy Forbes, Iceland’s skating director.
The Sweetheart Open featured about 300 skaters from the Chicagoland area, including Robert Crown, Twin Rink, Northbrook and more. The two-day event included 10 different contests, including solo, couple and team competitions. Audience members were also entertained by fun light-hearted programs, which included two skaters dressed as characters from the movie “Monsters Inc.” dancing to “If I Didn’t Have You.”
Family and friends were busy purchasing flowers at Iceland to give to the performers who participated in various events, including freestyle, artistic, rhythmic, synchronized events and more.
Disguised as a minion, Nicole Hotca, of Niles, said she was both “nervous and excited” to take home the first place trophy.
Hotca said that last year the Iceland team took home second place at the competition.
“We kind of just upgraded,” Hotca said with a smile.
Nadia Castillo, Wyatt and Kalyn Zwik and Gianna Pauly were looking forward to the brief awards ceremony on the ice that took place during the competition on Sunday, Dec. 17.
Castillo, 9, said that performing is her favorite part about ice skating.
“It was really fun,” said Wyatt Zwik, who is also a hockey player at Iceland.
Mary Ahne was at the Sweetheart Open to support her 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who has been skating for four years.
“She’s made a lot of good friends,” said Ahne, about why she is glad her daughter is involved in ice skating at Iceland.
“I think the competition helps her confidence,” said Ahne, of Park Ridge. “It teaches her discipline.”
“It’s a giant commitment,” said Forbes, about the large time commitment and monetary commitment that families make in order for their kids to be ice skaters.
Forbes said that the skaters get their programs in the summer and perform the same program at various competitions throughout the year. Many skaters spend three to six days a week on the ice, for several days a week, working on their programs, she said.
“It takes a long time to perfect their programs,” said Forbes, who said each program is about one to three minutes long.
For each event, the first through third place winners took home trophies and those who placed fourth through sixth place received medals.
Forbes said that almost every month skaters from Iceland participate in a competition that is hosted at various area skating rinks.