Ashley Frankenfield has achieved one of the biggest milestones of her ice-skating career in qualifying for nationals later this summer in Massachusetts.
The feat was realized this past weekend while competing in The Magnolia Open, which was held at The Cooler in Alpharetta. There, the 16-year-old junior from Thomson High School was at her best -- winning two bronze medals and thrilling both the audience and judges.
She described the feeling of winning the two bronze medals with one word, "Great."
Ashley, the daughter of Joyce Frankenfield, of Dearing, possibly could have done even better had she not taken a tumble during the compulsory event last Friday.
"My blades caught each other and caused me to fall right in front of the judges," said Ashley with a laugh. The fall, only her second one in four years of competition, didn't keep her from continuing the event.
"I just got back up and shook it off," said Ashley, who ended up finishing sixth out of six competitors.
Her mother replied, "She acted like it didn't phase her one bit. She popped right back up with a big smile on her face and continued."
The next day was much different for Ashley and that afternoon, she would be rewarded for her dedication and commitment to the sport of ice skating.
Day 2 started with another early morning practice with her coach, Renee Austin, of Augusta. Ashley, who skates out of the Augusta Ice Sports Center, was one of 11 area ice skaters competing in Alpharetta.
In all, there was more than 200 competitors from as young as 3 to adults. They hailed from five different states.
"It was great being part of it all," exclaimed Ashley. "I had a wonderful time. I'll never forget it."
Ashley's first bronze medal was presented to her following the free-skating event. Winning the gold medal in that event was Grace Liu. The silver medal was captured by Maya Neel. Both Liu and Neel live in the Atlanta area.
After watching them perform, Ashley confided to her mother that she had a little doubt about doing well in the free-skating event.
Ms. Frankenfield, who has helped her daughter get where she is today in a variety of ways, was there to offer comfort and boost Ashley's spirits before she participated in her second event.
"I told her she was right on par and that she could match up with them," recalled Ms. Frankenfield.
Ashley said she took to heart what her mother told her.
"It made me rethink things after talking to my mother," admitted Ashley, noting her mother's words inspired and encouraged her.
Before getting onto the ice for the event, Ashley said she prayed to the Lord, too -- something she does before every competitive event.
"I always thank Him for giving me the ability to skate," said Ashley. "I ask Him to allow me to do the best that I can."
The same is true when she comes off the ice.
"I thank Him then, too, regardless of how well I did or not," she added.
Ms. Frankenfield said her daughter had her heart and soul in the free-skating event.
"I didn't care what the judges said, I knew it was Ashley's best performance ever," said Ms. Frankenfield.
In the last event held last Saturday night, Ashley again garnered a bronze medal for her special skit performance on ice.
Ashley said she was proud of her overall performance and her achievement in qualifying for the nationals.
"It was a great experience," she said. "I had a lot of fun. And I'm looking forward to the nationals."
Between now and August, Ashley will continue to practice ice skating, as well as soccer. She is a starter for the Lady Bulldogs' soccer team.
Having played soccer, she said, has taught her how to be graceful in winning, as well as in losing in sports.
"It's made me a better-rounded person," said Ashley.