Published 12:13 pm on February 10, 2010
Faith Helps ‘Ice Castles’ Star Taylor Firth Overcome Setbacks
By Peter Elliott
Taylor Firth is anything but a stranger to the pressure cooker of elite figure skating ranks. Being on screen is a different story and she is looking forward to see how the two blend together.
Firth plays the lead role of Lexi Winston in the remake of “Ice Castles” one of the most well-known sports and romance movies of the 1970s. The 18-year-old Firth comes at the role from a Christian background as well, crediting God for the opportunities she has had on the ice and, now, in front of the camera.
A native in of Grand Island, N.Y., Firth trains in nearby Jamestown and is working on climbing the ladder to the top rungs of the skating ladder. She placed 13th at the 2009 U.S Figure Skating Championships and qualified for the 2010 North Atlantic Regional Championships, held last year. Success at the event would have put her on the path to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and a shot at the U.S. Olympic Team, but she had to pull out of the competition.
She said in a telephone interview with Everyday Christian that recurring problems with asthma forced her to withdraw. She said her faith was a factor in helping her overcome the disappointment and hope for better things to come.
“It was very tough but it showed me that my future is in God’s hands,” Firth said. “I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities.”
Firth was homeschooled for much of her early education growing up with sisters Shannon, Sierra and Chelsea, who is also a competitive skater. She graduated from high school during the filming of “Ice Castles,” which came about in an unusual way.
Director Donald Wrye directed the original “Ice Castles” in 1978 starring skater Lynn-Holly Johnson and teen heartthrob Robbie Benson. The film centers around Firth’s character coming from a small town to reach skating stardom only to be blinded in a fall and later regain her skating skills and her confidence through the help of her coach and her boyfriend. Wrye contacted Firth’s coaches as part of a search to find a skater to star in a contemporary adaptation of the film. Even without formal experience in front of the camera Firth jumped at the chance and spent time filming in Nova Scotia last spring, including during her high school graduation.
“It was really a cool experience,” Firth said. “(Wrye) gave me so many tips and helped keep me focused on what we needed to work on. It went really smoothly.’
Firth said she found plenty of correlation between her experience of skating before large crowds and working in front of a camera.
“It was really equal how I felt about acting and skating,” Firth explained. “In figure skating there is a lot of performance involved in playing to the crowd and to the judges. The skating scenes were just as difficult as the acting scenes because I’m used to training three hours a day for five days a week.
“During the film it was more like nine hours a week skating, so I really had to be focused on what I was working on as far as the consistency with my jumps and showing my skills.”
Firth attends The Chapel at CrossPoint in Getzville, N.Y., and said she doesn’t shy away from expressing her faith in the competitive atmosphere she often finds herself in.
“The Lord has been a source of strength for me,” she said. “If being on this stage, whether it is acting or skating, is how I can use it as a platform for God then I’m comfortable with that. To me it’s more than just wearing a sweatshirt that says, ‘I’m a Christian.’ I want people to know how He has given me a sense of peace that even though I can’t see it, I can feel it.”
In addition to anxiously awaiting the release of the film on DVD on Tuesday, Firth is looking forward to watching the Winter Olympics which kick off in Vancouver on Friday with a trained skater’s eye.
“Of course I’m a little biased because I love our country and I think our team has a chance of doing very well,” she said. “The judging system has changed (in recent years) and I still see some of the kinks being worked out of it. What I will look for and what I hope other people will see is the athleticism of the skaters. It’s not just jumps and spins and looking good on the ice. The ability of the skaters to work through their routines so carefully is exhilarating to watch.”
Ice Castles trailer: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/icecastles/player/
The Chapel at CrossPoint: http://www.thechapel.com/index.html
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