It was a scene that could hardly have been imagined a few years ago. On an ice rink in Goleta, a pair of Santa Barbara teenagers skated through a program of lifts, throws, side-by-side jumps, and a death spiral to the music of The Mask of Zorro.

Sam Alen and Sage Kerst, having advanced through regional and sectional competitions, will be among 12 couples competing in the intermediate pairs division of the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday, January 19, in Detroit (9:30 a.m. Pacific time on nbcsports.com).

Alen is a 17-year-old junior at San Marcos High. Kerst, 13, attends Santa Barbara Junior High. They spend most of their other waking hours at Ice in Paradise, which has proved to be a boon to devotees of skating, from recreational beginners to hockey players, ever since it opened near the Camino Real Marketplace in November 2015.

“This is pretty much my home,” said Alen, whose introduction to ice skating began at the opening of the facility. He previously had participated in gymnastics and ballet dancing. Once he slid on blades, there was no looking back. “He’s a rink rat,” observed Larry Bruyere, general manager of Ice in Paradise…

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