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Druley: Former St. Charles East grad Stammen relishing cruise career as ice-skater

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

Madeline Stammen’s sport oozes glitz regardless of venue.

Put a professional figure skater on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, however, and we’re talking glamour overload.

Stammen sees the surprised looks when guests prepare to watch an ice show at sea. The 20-year-old St. Charles East product hopes they can appreciate the elbow (and knee) grease that went into getting her on stage.

A competitive skater since age 6, Stammen continues increasing her comfort and mobility on the heels of tearing her right ACL in November 2012.

“[The knee] clicks sometimes and I can’t straighten it as much as my left, but considering where I came from, it healed very well,” she wrote in an email.

That’s just as well. If you’re going to spend the majority of seven to eight-month stints traveling in a huge boat, you might as well be comfortable.

Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph, the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush physician who performed the surgery, assures Stammen is just that after a recent check-up.

“Athletes with ACL injuries, they kind of go through a death and dying approach of first denial, then anger, then acceptance,” Bush-Joseph said. “But she’s got great, supportive parents and really took that devotion to get herself back on track.”

And back on the boat.

One of Stammen’s coaches told her about Royal Caribbean’s ice skating shows shortly after Stammen turned 18. The opportunity fit Stammen’s longtime aspiration to skate professionally, so she created an audition tape, submitted it and eventually hailed a new horizon.

Royal Caribbean offers shows on its Oasis, Freedom and Voyager ships. Shows typically last 45 minutes, incorporating themes and solo or pairs numbers for each skater. Cruise lengths depend on the ship, and usually range from three to 14 days.

If there’s one downside to Stammen’s latest contract, it was the inability to watch the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics while at sea. Stammen wrote she was “really rooting for” a couple former training partners with Illinois ties, including Jason Brown (Highland Park) and Gracie Gold (Chatham).

So far, Stammen’s favorite destination is Old San Juan, an historic settlement within Puerto Rico’s capital.

“The cobblestone streets, the old forts and the breathtaking ocean views never get old,” she wrote.

That isn’t to suggest Stammen is weary of her most familiar surroundings. She’s set to return home in July, and remains in touch with family and friends via social media.

“I plan on continuing to develop my skating skills and travel as a professional skater,” Stammen wrote. “There are so many opportunities, big and small, and all around the world for us.”

Elsewhere on the ice: U.S. Olympic men’s figure skater Jordan Malone, a silver medalist as part of the Americans’ short-track 5,000-meter relay at the Sochi Games last month, was scheduled to speak Thursday at Kaneland High School’s auditorium.

His presentation, in conjunction with a group from Devry University, explored how science and technology correlated with Team USA.

The event was part of Kaneland’s Smart Start Speakers Series.

Kaneland School Superintendent Jeff Schuler said assistant principal Mike Rice worked on coordinating the series.

Malone is a native of Denton, Texas, a Dallas suburb.

Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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