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Becoming an ice princess

Jenna McCabe, 11, practices one of her spins at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena.1 / 2
Jenna McCabe warms up with her figure skating coach, Amanda Truax.2 / 2

Jenna McCabe of Hastings was young when she discovered her passion. It was about six years ago, after watching a movie titled "The Ice Princess." The film features a high school girl who has to decide whether to pursue her studies and get into Harvard or devote herself to competitive figure skating.

The film inspired Jenna to start taking skating lessons.

"I just wanted to learn how to do it," she said, adding that it's such a graceful sport.

She's 11 years old now, and after five full years of figure skating lessons she's working her way into competitive skating. Her first competition was in March, and her second in July. In October she'll compete again, and she and her coach are planning on entering her into the Ice Skating Institute's world championships next summer in Blaine.

ISI is an international association based out of Dallas. Jenna trains through the Riverblade Skating School, which teaches ISI curriculum. She's one of the first Hastings students her coach, Amanda Truax, has had.

Jenna's mother, Deb, found Riverblade Skating School at about the time the school opened, five or six years ago.

"It's been a really good program," Deb said. "(Jenna's) really enjoyed it."

In order to compete in ISI events, skaters have to be ISI members.

"There's a lot of opportunity in ISI, at any level," Truax said.

Competitions are more than skating for a win. ISI members also get to perform in spotlight events that allow them to show off a more relaxed side of skating. In October, for example, Jenna will be skating her spotlight event in costume as Wednesday from the Addams Family.

ISI also offers team events, family events and special events such as footwork programs.

Even at her young age, Jenna is proving her skill on the ice.

"Jenna has a real graceful quality to her skating," Truax said.

Even older girls have commented on how graceful Jenna is on the ice.

Competition, Jenna's found, can be nerve-wracking, but with each performance, her nervousness gets a little easier to handle.

"You just gotta think that (the audience is) here for you and they're excited to see what you can do," Jenna said.

Although the competition season is just gearing up, summer heat doesn't mean ice skaters get any break.

"Figure skaters train and skate all year round," Truax said.

That's no problem for Jenna. She practices twice a week, and in the summertime, that just means she's guaranteed a place to stay cool.

"I love it," she said.