cards they needed to work for the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club (AAFSC). In exchange, they'd agreed to teach her nephew.
Eleven years later, Evan Bates and his longtime skating partner, Emily Samuelson, are ranked among the very best ice dancing pairs in the country. They'll compete this month at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Washington. The top three couples in the nationals usually go on to represent the United States in the Winter Olympics, and Samuelson and Bates have a good shot, says Detroit Free Press sportswriter Jo-Ann Barnas, who has covered the Olympics for years. They won the silver medal at last year's nationals, and this year, Barnas says, "I think they could get the bronze."
Now nineteen and twenty, respectively, Samuelson and Bates are both enrolled part-time at the U-M. But right now, they're spending much of their time training for the nationals--and, if they do well there, for February's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Says Bates, "Thinking about the Olympics gives me butterflies that won't go away."
Ann Arbor has long been a good skating town; Dr. Richard Porter formed the first synchronized skating team here in 1954. But for years the city had only one public indoor rink, Veterans Ice Arena, and it was hard for competitive skaters to get enough ice time at Vets, which is closed in the summer. Many trained elsewhere, often at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills.