Wehrle and Kole celebrate engagement

Sappenfield throws pair team surprise party

Sappenfield toasts Wehrle and Kole's engagement with a glass of sparkling cider.
Sappenfield toasts Wehrle and Kole's engagement with a glass of sparkling cider. (Jo Ann Schneider-Farris )


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By Jo Ann Schneider-Farris, special to
(07/03/2008) - Pair skating coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, says that she thinks of her group of pair skating students as a team, and approaches her coaching that way. Her belief proved successful at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships where her teams won the senior, junior, and novice pairs events.

In keeping with her thinking of this as a group effort, Sappenfield refers to the success of her "team" at U.S. championships, not to any individual pair. "Each one of my pair skaters deserve recognition," said Sappenfield. "The training atmosphere I create is one where the teams are competitive, but supportive."

Sappenfield arrived in Saint Paul, Minn., with nine pair teams, four at the senior level. Among them was the team of Amber Wehrle and Nick Kole. Wehrle and Kole train hard but have remained somewhat in the shadows since most eyes have been on 2008 U.S. champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker.

Wehrle and Kole were matched-up in March of 2006, and make for an unusual pairing. They both jump and spin in a clockwise direction, there are very few skating teams that do everything in what is "opposite" to the traditional direction. Since both skate the same way, it is possible for the pair to do all their moves in unison -- rather than in mirror fashion -- which is commonly done when one skater in the pair jumps and spins clockwise.

Skating in the same direction was one of the reasons Sappenfield matched up the duo, but another reason was that they had similar interests and were very much alike. She had a "feeling" that Wehrle and Kole might make a cute couple off the ice. Her matchmaker instinct were correct, just a week after becoming a team, they started dating. Sappenfield admits that at first, it was difficult for Wehrle and Kole to leave their personal life off-the-ice, but in time their relationship deepened, and being in love made their skating better.

In early June, Kole told Dalilah about his plans to propose to Wehrle on the morning of her 22nd-birthday, on July 2. He asked for the day off from skating training. Instead, Dalilah replied, "No, you will have to come to the rink as usual because I will plan a big surprise party for both of you!"

What made the moment especially surprising, was that almost all of Sappenfield's students had no idea Kole was about to drop the big question on Wehrle. Not wanting the news to circle, no one, except a "select few" had an idea that, instead of training Wednesday morning, they'd arrive for a party.

On Wednesday morning, Kole gave Wehrle a birthday card that said, "to my wife," but he added "to be." He then got down on one knee, proposed, and presented her with an engagement ring. Kole explained, "I had to propose to Amber before 9:30 a.m. since she would turn 22 at 9:30 a.m. I wanted to propose to her while she was still 21."

Wehrle called her mother (who happened to be visiting Colorado Springs) about the exciting news, and then got ready for a regular day of skating training.

The couple left for what Wehrle thought was a "mandatory pair skaters meeting," followed by a usual day of training. Instead, when she arrived at the rink, Sappenfield had all of her teams waiting in front of a table fixed up with cake and sparkling cider. A huge "congratulations" banner hung over the table. After teams and lots of hugging, Sappenfield proposed a toast to the happy couple.

After things settled down, everyone went back to their usual day of training, and the lesson Wehrle and Kole had with Sappenfield on their happy day was one of their best. The wedding is scheduled for April of 2009. Their goals for the future include continuing to compete at the senior level, then to skate in shows, and travel.