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Dean Wiles effortlessly skates his way to a national title in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships

UPDATED: Sun., May 8, 2022

Dean Wiles, a member of Spokane Figure Skating Club, performs at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships on April 9 in Newark, Del., where he won the Adult Gold Men’s Singles competition. (Photo by KrPhotogs Photography LLC)
Dean Wiles, a member of Spokane Figure Skating Club, performs at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships on April 9 in Newark, Del., where he won the Adult Gold Men’s Singles competition. (Photo by KrPhotogs Photography LLC)
By Charlotte McKinley For The Spokesman-Review

Having his blades to the ice for most of his life, Dean Wiles competed in his first season of competitive figure skating and won the national title in the adult men’s division in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships.

Wiles was born in Ontario, Canada, where he joked that “you come home from the hospital in skates instead of baby shoes.” He was raised skating but took a break a few years after moving to Spokane when he was 12.

“When I first moved to Spokane, it seemed like a lot of the focus of skating was on competition, and it was kind of different than what I’d grown up with,” Wiles said. “The environment (in Ontario) was you could just skate and grow and that there wasn’t so much pressure on competition.”

Now, Wiles is an active member of Spokane Figure Skating Club teaching classes and assisting in running competitions. “I’d never really competed but had always had a lot of friends that had,” he said. “I thought ‘well, it’s probably my turn to give it a try.’ ”

For the past year and a half, Wiles trained for the competitive circuit by refining elements and “getting solid” on his axels and spins.

Going from the local competitions in the Spokane area to the national level was “inspiring” to Wiles as he watched athletes such as Nathan Chen. “He was just amazing. I mean, he could do stuff at 10 (years old) that I still can’t do.”

The way performers can draw people in to want to be on the ice was part of Wiles’ goal. He wanted to make people want to go out and skate. Instead of focusing on the technical elements of his routine, he emphasized his performance.

“(I wanted to) make it something that would be enjoyable for people to watch,” he said.

Wiles’ routine was 2 minutes, 40 seconds of gliding over the ice with graceful launches into the air and crisp landings.

Despite the smoothness and effortlessness that Wiles portrayed on the ice, there were challenges for him to think about during his performance.

“Every second of the program has something that you’re focusing on, whether it’s setting up for the next element, where your body is positioned (or) how you’re presenting,” Wiles said.

His two opening elements were the most challenging parts of his routine.

The first element consisted of four rotations. “There’s a combination spin (that goes into) a camel spin where your foot has to be up as high as your hip. And then it goes (into a) spin where your hip has to be as low as your knee and then (goes) into a back spin and (your) change foot spin,” Wiles said.

The axels were a second difficult element he interspersed throughout the routine.

“The axels (are) always a tricky jump and that one took a while to just be consistent with it (to get) good air (and) the correct position in air so that you’re taking off and landing and cleanly,” Wiles said.

Wiles deeply loves skating, and one thing he wants to do is to foster a greater love of the sport in the Spokane community.

“I’d love to have more people just get involved in skating,” he said.

When he started skating again, the demand for an ice rink and programs in Spokane was slim. “We didn’t have much going on just because we didn’t have full -time ice,” Wiles said. “It was always kind of a seasonal program because they just opened winter to spring.”

The past 10 years, Wiles has been instrumental in expanding the skating community.

“We’re able to have kind of the environment that I grew up with as a kid,” he said. “(You have) an opportunity for everybody to skate whether you’re just brand new and can barely march across the ice or (someone) that can do double jumps and amazing stuff.”

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