Rohene Ward is the first person to provide support to figure skaters who make a mistake.
He’s also the first to congratulate them if they nail their routine.
It’s Ward’s competitive support that sets him apart from other skaters at the Midwestern Sectional Figure Skating Championships, which wrapped up at the Moorhead Sports Center Saturday.
“We’re all in this for the same reason,” Ward said. “Why not support one and other?”
The 21-year-old skater from Minneapolis finished sixth in the senior men’s free skate program Saturday.
Unfortunately for Ward, only the top four finishers in each division go to the United States Figure Skating Championships in January.
Although Ward will return home to the Twin Cities this week, his support for the skaters who are moving on to nationals won’t change.
It’s more than just his supportive nature that makes him cheer on his opponents; it’s the principles and respect he’s learned from figure skating.
Raised in an urban area of the Twin Cities, Ward’s introduction to figure skating came by accident.
When he was 8 years old, Ward met Gailene Norwood, who later became his first figure skating coach.
Norwood immediately noticed a connection between the young boy and skating.
“You could sense his talent right from the beginning,” said Norwood, who was in Moorhead to watch her former pupil compete.
Norwood senses were right. Ward’s jumps, spins and artistic dancing had spectators at sectionals buzzing, especially during the second mark of his free dance competition.
“It’s the way I interpret the music,” said Ward “(It’s) my flexibility and ability to have quick reaction.”
Ward’s hard-to-contain athletic ability on open ice has his current coach, Page Lipe, calling to the past 10 years in which she’s coached Ward a rollercoaster ride.
“He needs to focus (his talent) and get more confidence every time he goes out on the ice,” Lipe said.
Even though Ward’s road to nationals ended at Moorhead Saturday, Norwood still believes he can go as far as he wants.
She hopes one day he’ll go as far as the Olympics.
“Where Rohene has gone is because of his determination and dedication,” Norwood said. “He still makes me cry when he skates.”