Figuring they will skate for themselves

More than 226 blades, on 113 registered skaters were assembled at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre from Jan. 20-21 for the annual Territorial Figure Skating competition. 

Colourful costumes, flashy, light-up skate-guards, hair, make-up and tights were the garb at the annual fun-skate tournament this year that parents, organizers and volunteers worked hard to ensure was smoothly run. 

This year’s event brought in judges from Edmonton, Fort Simpson and Yellowknife to mark skaters development over all levels in the past year. 

Skaters travelled in for the competition from Inuvik, Fort Smith and Yellowknife.

But for some local skaters it was an exercise in competing against others and challenging themselves. That’s according to four of the tournament’s medal winners who were taking a giddy breather after a full two days of scraping the rink.

For 11-year-old Meg Kruger skating in front of a crowd is dependent on surpassing her own fear.

“I try not to be nervous, so I just look past everyone and think (to myself) that I’m doing this just for fun,” said Kruger.

The territorial’s preceded the test skate day on Jan. 22, when skaters who reach a certain level are evaluated on their skill.

“Once they hit a certain level they can’t be evaluated by their coaches anymore,” said Hay River Skating Club President Claire-Anne Bouchard.

Although 11-year-old Fiona Huang is taking part in relaxed banter with her friends, she’s also aware that the challenge isn’t over.

“I take five deep breathes before I go on the ice,” said Huang. “I’m a very nervous person and I can shake a lot. I try to think it’s just for fun but I’m very competitive.  I just hope I do well in the tests tomorrow.”

Alicia Hayne and Georgia Dawson talk about the hours of practicing they have to put into any given week.

Both 12-year-olds joke about competing with each other but also with skaters from other clubs.

They concurred that skating and conditioning takes up a lot of their lives.

“If you practice a lot, by the time you are out there on the ice by yourself, you have nothing to lose,” said Dawson.

All judges, parents and helpers volunteered their time over the weekend—of which some spent more than 12 hours days at the recreation centre on Friday and Saturday only to return on Sunday for test day.

The HRFSC won’t be hanging up their blades yet.

They’ll be heading to conditioning tournaments throughout the duration of the season—their next destination planned is Whitecourt, Alta, in February.

Conditioning is important say the organizers, especially since there is a lack of available certified coaches to call on.

“If you look on Skate Canada, every little town in western Canada is looking for certified coaches,” said Angelia King, tech representative of the event.

Last year’s territorial event was hosted in Fort Smith, and given all the hard work that went into the local event, organizers are happy to bid farewell the hosting role for another four years.

Next year’s event will be hosted in Yellowknife with a tentative date of Feb. 8-9.