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Published: May 16, 2009 05:28 pm     

ICE PRINCES: Grand Island's Taylor Firth stars in "Ice Castles."

( TO VIEW VIDEO OF TAYLOR FIRTH VISIT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KiLGUemcBE)

In the movie “Ice Castles,” a young skater is plucked from her small town roots and molded into a skating sensation who must find a way to be true to herself.

Taylor Firth of Grand Island recognizes a bit of her own life in the dramatic plot of the movie, particularly the sudden rise to stardom.Firth was recently selected to star in the remake of the 1978 film, “Ice Castles,” after Sony picture executives discovered her on the Internet.

Watching her skate on a 2007 YouTube clip, it’s easy to see why the producers thought a skater with no acting experience could handle the starring role of a major motion picture.

“She’s adorable,” an ESPN commentator is heard to say on one clip of her at a national competition that’s airing on the popular video sharing site.

Fans might agree, watching her animated face light up with smiles as she completed her short program.

Firth, whose father Michael owns Firth Jewelers in Niagara Falls, recently placed 13th in the 2009 U.S. Nationals. She and her family had just returned from the competition when her coach called with the news that he’d found a letter in his junk e-mail file from some movie producers. They wondered if Taylor would be interested in trying out for a role in their new skating movie. She thought maybe they needed a skating double for whoever would be the star.

Shortly after that, a videotape created by Taylor and her giggling sisters was sent off to the movie makers for consideration.

In the time it takes to do a triple spin, Taylor was in Toronto for a live audition and then off to Halifax, Vancouver, to star in the Sony Pictures production.

Recently, after a morning of home schooling in the family’s classroom with three of her four sisters, just before all four sisters left for their daily skating practice at a rink in Jamestown, Taylor took some time to talk about her unexpected career opportunity.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said of the filming.

Her mother, Pattie, who accompanied her, agreed.

“I can see why people love to act. Every minute of every day it was ‘can I get you anything?’ and ‘what do you need.’ ”

The film, which is expected to be released just before the February Winter Olympics, depicts the story of Lexi Winston, played by Firth, who is plucked from a regional figure skating competition to train with a former Olympic competitor and is quickly transformed into a teen skating sensation.

Taylor does not take the similarities between her life and Lexie’s for granted. But Taylor may not have to worry about finding herself the way her character does. The young skater seems too grounded in both her faith and the love of her family to let any Hollywood foolishness steer her off course.

“This is my God-given talent. This is what I have to do,” she said of her skating ability. She is quick to add, “This isn’t my ability, it’s His ability,” speaking of her faith. “I’ve grown up a Christian all my life. It’s who I am, I’m not ashamed of it.”

Actually Taylor may also be able to credit her faith for any acting ability that she was able to rely on during the filming. She and her sisters, Shannon, 19, Chelsea, 15, and Sierra, 14 have years of experience performing in the children’s worship service every Sunday at The Chapel in Amherst where her family worships.

Both mother and daughter admit the filming experience was “amazing.”

“It was like a dream, I felt like that the whole time,” said her mother.

Her father, Michael, on the other hand, did not find the experience quite so dreamy when it first began to unfold. When the request for an audition came Pattie was skeptical but Michael couldn’t sleep imagining the possibilities.

“Everynight I laid in bed thinking of what could happen,” he remembered.

He too looks to his faith to understand the improbabilities of his daughter’s experience. “Essentially my dreams came true. What’s even cooler is that it’s not any thing we were looking for. It kind of lets me know that God was involved.”

As for Taylor, she is comfortable with where her future might lead. Although she hopes to skate professionally one day, perhaps with Disney on Ice, she is also considering a career in nutrition and possibly as a coach and athletic trainer.

“I have a lot of options that I need to sort through,” she said. “I know I want to compete again this year and make it to Nationals again.”

And what if the movie turns out to be a huge success and Hollywood calls again? She grinned at the thought. “I’d pack my bags,” she said.