Grand Island girl skates to win

NeXt Editor

Photos by BILL WIPPERT/Buffalo News
During a practice at the Amherst Pepsi Center, Taylor Firth does a Russian split jump, above, and an axel, left.


Getting up at 5 a.m. to practice before school and spending 14 hours a week on the ice are just part of the routine for Taylor Firth, 12, a Grand Island figure skater who placed first in her division in the Kempen Trophy in Belgium in January.

The U.S. Figure Skating Association invited her to compete in Europe after she came in fourth at the Junior Nationals in December.

Why does she love skating? "I like being able to compete," she said last week as she laced up her skates before practice with the Amherst Skating Club at the Amherst Pepsi Center.

Taylor began competing at age 7, has perfected a triple toe and is now working on more triples (triple salchow, triple lutz, triple flip) so she can advance from intermediate to novice level. "I'm working on a new program to move up a level," she said. And she skates "every day except for Sunday."

In Belgium, she skated a short and a long program and was "very nervous," her mother, Pattie, said. Nerves or not, Taylor placed first in the "minimen" division (the European equivalent of intermediate). "It was very exciting," her mom said. "It was neat to hear national anthem played at the awards."

Taylor has a greenish brown costume for her short program and white with blue for the long.

Her coach is Lisa Ervin-Baudo, who skated with the U.S. International team for a number of years. She says Taylor is "a very good jumper" and estimates that "she's 50 percent of the way to where Michelle Kwan's level of difficulty was." Her coach works with her on choreographing her programs for competition, although this past year Taylor used a Canadian coach. "We find music collectively. Her mom and dad and she and I come up with music for her," Ervin-Baudo said. Taylor is a seventh grader at Christian Central Academy in Williamsville and is on the honor roll. "The school has been wonderful" about accommodating Taylor's practice and competition schedule, her mom said. After the competition in Turnhout, Belgium, the family traveled to Brussels, Paris and London.

Taylor has three sisters: Shannon, 14, Chelsea, 10, and Sierra, 8. All of them skate.

Some of Taylor's favorite things:

Favorite skater: Alexei Yagudin

Favorite book: "You Are Special" by Max Lucado

Favorite movie: "Pirates of the Caribbean"

Favorite singer: Clay Aiken