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Spokane-area skater choreographs start of championships

When Tanya West began skating at 5, she knew she always wanted to skate, but she never guessed she would one day be responsible for choreographing the opening ceremonies when the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships hit Spokane next week.

“This is the big celebration, the opening of the championship, that takes place Friday night,” said West, 24, in between practices at Eagles Ice Arena in north Spokane. “I have two assistants to help me, we’ve been practicing really hard and it’s been a lot of fun.”

There will be 41 local skaters in the opening show – some as young as 5 – and they have been practicing for months.

Set to the music of Celine Dion and Black Eyed Peas, the opening show tells the story of a couple who arrive in Spokane to attend the championships.

“But the guy would rather stay home and watch football,” said West, who volunteered her skills. “The show is all about how we want everyone to be excited about being in Spokane and at the nationals.”

The opening show also features local actors.

“We skate to three different songs, which adds up to an eight-minute long show,” said West. “We broke it down and took one song at a time, learned the first routine, then moved on to the next song and learned that routine.”

West gets to take her troops to one big rehearsal at the Arena once the Spokane Chiefs hit the road.

“Right now we are going over all the little details in the routines,” said West. “Are the lines straight? Are toes pointed? Are heads looking up?”

It was figure skating icons like Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi who inspired West to compete in singles figure skating.

“I watched the Olympics on TV and I just so wanted to do that. I’ve competed since I was 15,” said West. “I was also in Skate America and I toured with Disney on Ice. Once I started skating, my parents just couldn’t keep me off the ice.”

West is not competing in these nationals, but she’s volunteering and she plans to see some of the shows.

“Once the opening show is done, the big stress for me will be over,” said West. “It’s just been great fun. We want everyone to be excited about skating and about being here in Spokane. Hopefully they will all appreciate our show.”