Skaters turned out in full force March 29 to wrap up their season with the annual skating carnival at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre, where all levels of athletes performed to songs by Michael Jackson.
“I just can’t wait until the lights are down and the first skater heads out onto the ice,” said Sheryl Courtoreille, the Hay River Skating Club president, just before the show started.
“I hadn’t seen many of the acts until recently, and I am just blown away by all of them. I’m so proud of them.”
Skaters, parents, volunteers, and coaches worked hard all day March 29 to get the arena ready for the show, with banners and backdrop curtains. Courtoreille said not only was the carnival itself a massive event, the skaters then had a test day on March 30.
“It’s going to be a huge weekend for them,” she said. “They’ll be really tired, but it’s going to be great. They’ve all worked so hard.”
The carnival proved popular as it does every year, drawing a crowd large enough to pack the stands, and included a few additions to the lineup. Hay River’s club invited Fort Smith skaters to join in the fun, as well.
“Our two clubs are so close, we just thought it made sense that we invite them to come down and have a chance to perform here tonight,” said Courtoreille, adding that the Fort Smith club faced challenges this year as a fire-damaged arena meant they couldn’t have their own carnival.
“We’re so close as clubs, but it was my daughter who suggested we invite them, not the executive, and that’s really nice.”
While only two skaters from Fort Smith made the trip, Brenda Tuckey, who travelled with them, said it was a good experience for the girls and they appreciated the invitation.
“We’re sister clubs,” she said. “It’s great to be here and work together like this. It was a bit last minute, but the girls came in to practice (with the group) today and did really well.”
Courtoreille said the show would not have gone on without the support of the executive, the parents, the coaches and the skaters themselves. The carnival may be a place to showcase young talent but that doesn’t mean they get out of decorating duty and clean-up.
“It takes a village,” she joked, pointing to the packed stands just before the show got underway. “It’s so great to see so many people come out to watch every year.”
Some of the highlights of the event were the solos by older skaters, but by far the most appreciated by the audience were the youngest levels of skaters who made their way around the ice. They were perhaps the most excited to be in costume and performing for the community.
“I like the skating,” said Brooklyn Klause, adding that she had been practising for a month.
Mackenzie Hunkin said she liked the skating, but that dressing up for the performance was a bonus.
“The skaters have worked so hard all year,” said Courtoreille. “It’s really great to see them all out here and so excited to get out on the ice.”