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Stars reach out

Three American champions, led by a 2014 Olympian, participate in Skate Fest

2014 Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner works with the beginner skaters at Skate Fest Friday, April 18, at the Albany County Hockey Facility.

2014 Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner works with the beginner skaters at Skate Fest Friday, April 18, at the Albany County Hockey Facility. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— Ryan Bradley remembered what it was like for him to be a young figure skater and being introduced to some of the top professional skaters.

“For me, it’s nostalgic because my coach brought in older skaters to work with us,” said Bradley, the 2011 national champion. “So for me to have that opportunity to do that — it’s an amazing feeling.”

Bradley was one of three pros — along with 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron and 2014 Olympic team member Ashley Wagner — to appear at Skate Fest Friday, April 18, at the Albany County Hockey Facility in Colonie. Skate Fest was run in conjunction with that evening’s performance of Stars on Ice at the Times Union Center in Albany.

Skate Fest gave young figure skaters from across the Capital District the opportunity to skate up close with the three pros. The young skaters were divided into groups by ability, and the pros skated between the groups to offer encouragement and help the assistant coaches from the Hudson Mohawk Figure Skating Club of Troy, which sponsored the event.

“I was actually so shocked and amazed,” said Brady Hills of Berlin, who was in the beginners group. “I wanted their autographs.”

“It was fun,” added Sofia Marra of Latham, who also said she was star struck by Wagner.

Even the assistant coaches — many of them area high school students — had a difficult time not being awestruck by being in the pros’ presence.

“Definitely it’s difficult to keep your eyes on the little ones because you are definitely star struck, but it’s great because you get to show the Olympians that you’re helping the next generation,” said Tea Mottolese, an Emma Willard School student.

Hudson Mohawk Figure Skating Club president Tommie Palladino said Skate Fest came together several weeks earlier.

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