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Fall 2003 Table of Contents
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Rising Trend, Ice Skating

By Stephanie Sparkman, Writer

Reprinted and edited with permission from the Midland Reporter Telegram

Abstract: A young lady with albinism qualifies for Southwest Regional figure skating competition.

Key Words: Sports, ice skating, albinism, teenager, blind

Competitive ice skating is not a sport that has often been tied to West Texas. In fact, not one nationally recognized ice skater has come from the Permian Basin area.

But, if three young Midlanders have anything to do with it, that fact might soon change.

Jentry Courter, 13, Stephanie Miller, 13, and Tiffany Miller, 10, all of Midland, qualified in Dallas to compete in the Southwest Regional figure skating competitions to be held in Colorado Springs.

At the Broadmoor Open — one of the largest and most prestigious figure skating competitions of the year — Jentry, competing for the first time at the intermediate level, took home the Gold medal in the Artistic competition in a field of 70 skaters.

The Miller sisters' father, Brad Miller, said the families decided to enter the girls in the Broadmoor Open in order to get an idea about how the Midland girls' abilities compare to other skaters from around the nation.

Each of the girls has high aspirations for a career in figure skating.

"Lord willing, I want to shoot for the 2006 Olympics and, if that doesn't work out, then 2010," said Jentry.

The girls do more than just dream about becoming Olympic competitors. They have put their hearts, souls, and the majority of their time into their efforts.

While other kids are enjoying summer vacations, Jentry and the Miller girls are practicing, both on and off the ice.

While other kids labor in classes during the school year, the girls are laboring on the ice at the MGM Ice Rink in Odessa.

While all three girls are excited about the prospect of being the first Midlanders to compete as figure skaters in the Olympics, Jentry has an additional motive.

"I would not only be the first West Texan, but the first person with Albinism who is also visually impaired and yet can still skate," Jentry said.

Albinism, a genetic disorder that affects pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, quite often produces impaired vision.

"The impaired vision kind of messes me up a little bit," explained Jentry. "I can't tell how close people are to me and how far away the walls are, and I really have to concentrate on where everything is on the ice, so I don't run into the wall with a jump or anything."

And although physical differences set her apart from other skaters — her long, thick hair is white, her skin is flawlessly fair and her crystal blue eyes, from time to time, dart back and forth — Jentry refuses to let them prevent her from achieving success.

And her motives are not focused entirely on herself.

"I can show people who are just like me out there to get out there and just do it," Jentry said. "Just have fun and just praise God for it, and say, `You know what? I may be visually impaired, but I'm going to go out here and I'm going to do this the best I can and just see what happens.'"

"I'm just the same as everybody else."

Watching her daughter is a source of inspiration for Gina Courter.

"She's visually impaired, but she doesn't let it effect her determination," Mrs. Courter said. "It's in God's hands whether or not we get to the Olympics, but at the same time, I'm just proud of her vision and her insight — which is kind of a play on words, but she's very determined and her work ethics are strong."

"She's a good example," added Mrs. Courter. "She's a good example to everybody she meets."

"Everywhere we go, they remember her — partly because she has white hair and she's very different, but also because she has a great heart. She loves people."


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