Helping beginner skaters master control, balance and agility on the ice is the focus of a learn-to-skate program which started in the Hazeltons last week.
CanSkate, part of the nation-wide Skate Canada program, helps beginners find their feet and teaches skaters with basic skills how to improve.
The Hazeltons program is open to children aged four to 12.
Hazelton-based Skate Canada coach Stacey Brown said CanSkate was not just for small children who don’t know how to skate.
“A kid could come to us at 10 years-old not knowing how to skate at all and we would help them out,” said Brown.
“The CanSkate is a learn to skate program. It’s meant for kids either going into hockey, figure skating or ringette.
“There’s a lot of NHL players who started off with CanSkate.”
About 30 children were part of last year’s program in the Hazeltons, where skaters progress through six stages.
CanSkate taught children everything from how to get up after falling down to backwards crossovers, spins and jumps.
“The three big areas we try to address are kids being able to control themselves on skates, have really good balance on one foot or two feet and agility … and change quickly from forward edges to backward edges on either feet,” said Brown.
In November, some of the older CanSkate participants will have a chance to test their skills in competitions at the Smithers Jamboree.
Even for children who don’t intend to progress into competitive sports, Brown said the program provided a skill for life.
“There’s not a lot, necessarily, that we have facilities to do in Hazeltons,” she said.
“The ice rink is something that we have so it’s really important to me that we use this local facility and our local coaches that we have.
“Then kids can have a lifetime of fun skating either at the rink or out on the ice at the lakes.”
A pair of skates and an ice hockey helmet is the only equipment needed for the program.
CanSkate runs at the Hazelton ice arena from 5:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday. Established skaters can also register for the more advanced Starskate program.
For more information visit the Hazelton Hockey Club Facebook page.