Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maddie Takes the Ice for Olympic Fans and Hopefuls



In Nicolette House's middle grade novel, Maddie Takes the Ice, a young girl faces the pressures of competitive skating along with other travails faced by most everyone her age.  As the Sochi Olympics wind down, many young readers will want to read more about figure skating.  International ice dancer Nicolette House's book Maddie Takes the Ice gives them a front row view of the young skater's life.   Maddie Takes the Ice has been selected for two separate terms of the America's Battle of the Books program.  Favorably reviewed by Jo Ann Schneider Farris on About.comFigureSkating, the book is part of many great reading programs throughout the country.  What follows is the first portion of the book.  

BRRR! When her alarm went off at 5:45 on the second Saturday of October, Madison Albright’s eyes flew open. Most girls would groan about waking up this early, but not Madison. She jumped out of bed, lifted her arms high above her head, and stretched.
She walked to her wardrobe and pulled out her favorite pink velvet skating outfit. Holding the dress in front of her, Madison looked in the mirror and sighed. The dress made her eyes shine. It was also her lucky practice dress and she would put it to good use getting ready for the regional figure skating championships scheduled for the following week.
“You ready?” called Madison’s mom.
“Be down in a minute!” Madison smiled to herself. Mom was always up on time, ready to drive her to practice.
She heard her mom’s signal: two beeps. Madison knew she was running late and flew down the stairs, grabbing a hoodie to wear in the cool autumn dawn.
“Feeling ready for regionals?” her mother asked as Madison slid into the car.
Madison grew quiet, hesitating. She didn’t want to tell her mom how nervous she was about the competition.
“Of course I am. Liz says ‘Everything is going great!’ I couldn’t be more excited,” Madison replied, reporting her coach’s opinion but hiding her own. But she was certain that Liz, her main coach, was preparing her for the regional event.
Madison knew just what to say to calm her mother’s nerves. If only Madison could do that for herself!
“Well, I’m glad to hear it. You work so hard, sweetheart. Liz said that you have a good chance of placing high—maybe even winning if you skate well.”
“If?”
“I meant when, Madison. Don’t be so touchy. You feel ready, right?”
“Right…right, I am.”
Mother and daughter rode quietly until Mrs. Albright pulled up outside the Arctic Circle Ice Arena. Madison reached over and gave her a hug.
“Bye, mom. Thanks for the ride.”
Madison jumped out of the car, taking deep breaths. It’s not about where you place, she reminded herself, but how well you skate. Wasn’t that what Liz always told her? But then, why did she tell mom that I could win? Madison wondered.
The ice was already crowded when she stepped on to warm up. The biggest competition of the year brought the rink’s skaters in for added icetimes this week. The Upper Great Lakes Region included seven states with more than six hundred skaters participating in the regional competition. Madison was skating in the Intermediate Ladies events, a level in which a hundred forty five skaters would compete.
During warm-up, Madison imagined the upcoming competition. If she won or placed in the top four, she could go on to compete at U.S. Figure Skating’s Junior National Championships. If not, she could not qualify again until the next year. She warmed up her crossovers and spins, then her jumps. A huge smile spread across her face as she felt the speed and power with which she skated. She loved the sport and the exhilaration of skating more than anything.
“Madison,” Liz called her over to the boards. “Run through your competition warm-up and then we’ll run through your long program.”
Madison took a deep breath, then skated to the blue line to begin her warm-up routine. She felt the familiar butterflies in her stomach as she warmed up the first element of the two-and-a-half-minute long program—a layback spin. As the competition grew close, Madison knew the time to learn new skills was over. Now it was all about drilling what she knew. Madison continued warming up her jumps—a double salchow, double flip-double toe, and a double Lutz.
She was just finishing her footwork when Liz called, “Time. Okay, go get in your starting position. Let’s run your long program now.”
Madison grinned. She loved her long program, set to flamenco music that matched the style of her hot pink and black competition dress.
“Oh, and do the double axel this time,” Liz reminded her.
Great, just as I was calming down, Madison grumbled. She hadn’t warmed that jump up on purpose. The double axel was the only jump in the whole program that worried Madison. At least as her first program element, she could get it out of the way soon.
The first strums of the Spanish guitar jerked Madison away from her thoughts and she quickly centered herself to concentrate on her program. She started out edging, gathering speed before she entered her double axel.
Breathe in, breathe out, bring your leg through, Madison repeated to herself. In the blink of an eye, the jump was over and Madison moved on to the next element. She breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed throughout the rest of her routine...

Maddie Takes the Ice is available from a number of distributors serving schools as well as the publisher's web site, sportingchancepress.com, select bookstores, and Amazon. 

Copyright 2014 Sporting Chance Press.