Holiday tradition returns to ice

Amber Thompson, left, and Kendall Cramer will participate in the Happy Holidays Ice Show.
Amber Thompson, left, and Kendall Cramer will participate in the Happy Holidays Ice Show. Photo provided

Local figure skaters of all ages will help you glide into the holiday spirit on Sunday with the Nittany Valley Figure Skating Club’s presentation of the Happy Holidays Ice Show.

Located in State College, the Nittany Valley Figure Skating Club skates at the Pegula Ice Arena, where Sunday’s show will be held. NVFSC’s mission is to encourage participation in the sport of figure skating, and the club is open to figure skaters of all levels.

Gary Mitchell, NVFSC president, laced up his first skates at the age of 42 when his daughter, Allison, began skating in kindergarten. He has now been skating for more than 25 years and has served as NVFSC president for more than a decade.

Annie Gustafson, a sophomore at State College Area High School, started skating when she was 6 years old.

“I enjoy skating with the Nittany Valley Figure Skating Club at Pegula Ice Arena because our club has many opportunities to overlap with the Penn State Collegiate figure skaters,” she said. “Many collegiate skaters come from rinks across the globe.”

For the Happy Holidays Ice Show, her choreographer is Raya Willoughby, a senior at Penn State and a four-time Malaysian National Figure Skating Champion.

“Opportunities to work with skaters such as Raya is one of the unique aspects of NVFSC I really enjoy,” Annie said.

For the ice show, Annie will be skating to “Sleigh Ride” by Harry Connick Jr.

“The choreography is more fun because you get to skate to music with lyrics, which is something I don’t do in competitions,” she said.

Kendall Cramer, a fifth-grader at Mount Nittany Elementary School, and Amber Thompson, a fifth-grader at Wingate Elementary School, will be skating together in a duet to “Snow in California” by Ariana Grande. The pair became friends five years ago when they skated together to “Under the Sea.” Since then, they have challenged, coached and supported each other as they have grown as figure skaters. They enjoy spending time together on and off the ice. This is their third year choreographing their own program for NVFSC’s holiday show.

“I enjoy spending time on the ice to improve my skills and to be with friends,” Kendall said. “It also helps me to express my creative side.”

In addition to her duet with Amber, Kendall is also skating a solo program to “November Rain,” a Guns N’ Roses tribute.

Even as a newborn, Amber was always at the rink, as her oldest sister Julia is also a figure skater.

“I look up to my sister and have always wanted to become a figure skater like Julia,” she said. “As soon as I could walk, I was trying out my first pair of ice skates.”

Amber enjoys skating because it allows her to spend time with friends outside of school. She also enjoys competitions and shows, where she can showcase her skating skills. In addition to her duet with Kendall, Amber is also skating a solo program to “The World is Ahead” from “The Hobbit” soundtrack.

“I expect to do my best by successfully completing the most difficult elements in my programs,” Amber said. “I also expect to have fun and share my love of skating with the audience.”

The show also has a community service aspect.

“The NVFSC collected and donated 185 pounds of food as a lead up to our Happy Holidays Ice Show because we want to help make everyone’s holiday a ‘happy holiday’ ” Mitchell said.

NVFSC will also be presenting United States Figure Skating gold medals to three NVFSC club members: Beth Kalbach, a State College native, a senior at the University of Delaware, a triple USFS gold medalist; Sadie Roberts, an eighth-grader at Bald Eagle Middle School, a gold medal in Moves In the Field; and Hunter Evans, a senior at Claysburg-Kimmel High School, a gold medal in Moves In the Field.


  • What: Happy Holidays Ice Show
  • When: 1-3:30 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Pegula Ice Arena, University Park
  • Info: psfsc.org