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Sammie still skating strong

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Local ice phemon Veloso continues to advance in world of figure skating.

By Mike Forster

Even in the stifling heat of August, Sammie Veloso is thinking of ice.

And not the kind that you put in your lemonade.

Bedford’s own contribution to the world of women’s figure skating has seen her dedication and focus result in a move up that sport’s competitive ladder.

In the past two years, since we last visited Sammie, the skater has grown into a pleasant young lady—a pleasant young lady who owns a regional crown.

Sammie won the South Atlantic Region in singles competition last October.  She beat out 75 top skaters who represented an area that ranges from Pennsylvania to Florida.

“I was extremely happy,” Sammie said.  “(Winning the regional) had been a goal I’d been pursing.”

She recalled that she had come close in the past.  “For four or five years, I’d always been on the podium, but never won the top prize.”

Well, now she has the hardware and the title to prove that she earned that top spot.

Sammie has also advanced to the Juniors level of the U.S. Figure Skating Association.    (She won her regional title at the Novice level of the Senior division).  That puts the 16-year old one rung away from the top of the skating heap.  Her next goal is to reach Seniors, which is the highest level of the six-stage hierarchy.  It is the level which feeds the U.S. Olympic team.

The fact that she is in such a position is due, in large part, to a marked determination and a solid work ethic.

That dogged determination is reflected in how she has bounced back from some setbacks that were skating and non-skating based.  These included being kicked by a horse, breaking her tailbone and breaking a finger.

Throughout, she has maintained her focus.  She and her mother, Holly, still leave Bedford every Tuesday for Reston.  They stay up there through Friday, as Sammie works with her coach Serguei Kouznetsov, the same mentor she has had her entire 10-year career.

That routine was nearly dumped when gas prices hit $4 per gallon last summer.  “We got real close to pulling the plug,” said Holly.

On Sundays or Mondays, she works on techniques while skating at Liberty University’s LaHaye Ice Center.  

Additionally, Sammie dances with the LeeAnne Ashley studio in Bedford, which she has done these past six years

She does find time for a bit of fun.  She recently appeared between periods of the Virginia Tech - LU hockey match that benefited the Susan G. Komen fund.

“That was so much fun,” she recalled.  “It was rowdy.”

Homeschooling (she carries a 4.0 GPA) allows Sammie the flexibility to maintain her involvement in figure skating.  

But it is her love of the sport and her dedication that allow her to succeed.