Alabama’s Youngest Pair Skating Duo

By: qwerty53

Aug 29 2008

Category: Helena, AL, Ice Skating, Olympic Aspirations, People That Offer Us Inspiration, Uncategorized


Focal Length:22mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D70

The youngest pair skating duo in Alabama, Carolyn Diehl, of Helena and Preston Culpepper of Pelham, who both train at the Pelham Ice Skating School have been skating together for the past year. They took first place in Skate Nashville at the end of April, competing against skaters from TN, KY, AL, GA and IN, and placed 2nd in the Atlanta Open held in June with competitors from 10 states participating.

Carolyn, 9, has been skating for five years and Preston, 14, since he was four! During the school year, weekdays begin early with a 5am to 7am practice. Carolyn is ready and eager every morning, says her mother, Karen, which has earned her the respect of the coaching staff who presented her with a ‘Most Improved’ and the ‘Dedication Award’ at last year’s banquet. Carolyn cites her present coach, Clair Castleberry, pictured here, as the person who most inspires her in this discipline.

Kelley, Preston’s mother, who faithfully chauffeurs and supports his schedule, says her son has known he wanted to ice skate since the age of two when he excitedly watched ice skating and dancing events on tv. Preston, whose longtime coached is Danny Tate, is now confidently following his own muse both in solo and pairs competitions. He also enjoys archery and hunting with his father, Shawn.

He speaks of the fine-tuned communication process necessary to produce the required synchronization of pair skating. On the ice, Preston says, much information is passed between the two with their eyes. Spin rotations are counted off by him, as any fewer than the required number will result in a deduction of points. He names World Figure Skating Champion Elvis Stojko as the professional skater who has had the greatest influence on his own aspirations. It comes easily to him to say that his ultimate future focus includes the Olympics.

Additional off-ice training includes a synchronized workout that incorporates jumping rope and running the bleacher stairs at the rink as well as practicing all the required elements in their bare feet before even donning their skates. Preston additionally lifts weights—sometimes using Carolyn as a human barbell!

The next challenge for both Carolyn and Preston is to compete in the Sectionals, a preliminary step to the Junior Nationals. This four-day event held this year in Sugarland, TX, is in November. Karen Diehl looks forward to making this trip something of a family affair, with husband, Erich, and son, Christopher, who also takes lessons at the Skating School.

The test consists of presenting their short program, (2 minutes 20 seconds with two jumps) and long program (2 minutes 59 seconds and 4-5 jumps) before a panel of judges comprised of former coaches and parents. Each jump, Preston points out, has a specific entry sequence as does each lift. Their program incorporates a lutz lift, loop lift, throw axel, pair spin, side by side spin and a death spiral, pictured here.

Costumes are the choice of the skaters themselves and Carolyn and Preston’s outfits are black and white; they will skate to music entitled Lord of the Dance.

Contact Danny Tate, director and coach of Pelham Ice Skating School at 620-6448, for more information about ice skating classes or read more online at:




2 comments on “Alabama’s Youngest Pair Skating Duo”

  1. Carolyn Diehl is a beutiful ice skater. I know Carolyn from here aunt “Kelly Brasher”.I know her because her Aunt Kelly is Best friend i mean best friends with my mom. Go Carolyn and also Preston Culpepper

  2. Ashlyn,
    What a sweet thing to say about my niece. You are also like my niece and I love you very much. I’m proud of you and my Carolyn.

    Carolyn is now focusing on her individual skating now. I’m proud of her decision and think it was a good one. She just was filmed in her firm commercial. She was asked to be in the 30 second advertisement for the purpose of advertising during the 2009 Winter Olympics. We are all very happy for Carolyn and glad to see her gain some attention for all of her hard work.

    Like Ashlyn, Carolyn continues to excell academically.

    I’m very happy and proud of all of the precious little girls in my life…. Escpecially Ashlyn Ellis and Carolyn Diehl.

    Kelly Brasher

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