Many people might think about figure skating and conjure up pictures of pretty dresses and skaters moving around the rink doing a little jump or a even a spin once in a while.
Not quite the true story. Anyone who has watched a high level competition such as the Olympics has seen a truly amazing exhibition of athleticism. And grace. To music. All performed on thin blades and no protective equipment.
How do they do that? Lots of practice and years of learning increasingly difficult skills that they somehow make look easy.
Last weekend’s Kla How Ya inter-club competition was a very good demonstration of the gradual increase in difficulty that the skater is exposed to during their career. While we are used to seeing the fast and relatively lengthy performances that elite-level skaters must perform at that top level, last weekend we were exposed to parts of the long, slow climb up the ladder that all skaters must take if they decide to follow the competitive stream.
While that’s actually a relatively small group, the majority of the participants follow a rout that allows them to enjoy a sport they love and experience the development of skills which make them highly accomplished athletes.
Carrie Collingwood of the Smithers Figure Skating Club was a very busy person throughout the weekend as she coordinated the efforts of the large group volunteers who were helping make the event a success.
“We simply would not be able to host this event if it were not for the help we got from all of the volunteers all weekend long,” she said.
The Smithers club finished fourth overall out of the seven teams in the event. Around 130 skaters from the region comprised the competition which was being held in Smithers for the first time in over 10 years, according to Collingwood.
Top performers for the locals included Emily Holland in the 13 and over Star 4 division. In the Star 4 team elements category, Smithers took second.
Chantal Gammie took top spot in the Star 10 women while Catherine De Gisi was second in the pre-juvenile women competition.
A friend asked how a coach would ask an inexperienced skater to perform a jump which would probably end with more than the skate blade on the ice. A crash landing would hurt in most cases.
According to a coach, the skaters are taught how to fall on the ice in a safe manner. Watching fairly inexperienced skaters attempt jumps that landed them on the ice, not one skater of the dozens who did go to the ice was injured and all kept moving through their routines.
Concussions are not the same concern as in minor hockey and skaters do not wear protective gear beyond skate blade guards when they walk in their skates off the ice surface.
Next competition for the locals will be the regional championships in January.