Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

GLIDING – The Arctic Edge Figure Skating Club senior skaters were training on the ice Monday night to prepare for the Arctic Winter Games trials in December.

Skating to take centre stage in early December

Skating will be on display at the Canada Games Centre throughout the weekend of Dec. 9-10 to celebrate one of the country’s most popular activities.

By Dustin Cook on November 14, 2017

Skating will be on display at the Canada Games Centre throughout the weekend of Dec. 9-10 to celebrate one of the country’s most popular activities.

The Arctic Edge Skating Club will be hosting the Gold Nugget Competition, which are the Yukon figure skating championships, on Dec. 9. On top of that, the club will be holding the Arctic Winter Games trials that morning.

The territory will be sending eight skaters – born between 2000 and 2007 – to the Games to compete in skill levels one to three.

The Games have four levels but club co-chair Stacey Hays said no one from the club will be competing at the highest level and so they will be able to have three competitors in some of the other levels.

The senior group was hard at work on the ice Monday evening at the Canada Games Centre practising their routines for the upcoming day of competitions.

The team coaches worked with the skaters individually on their routines allowing each skater to play their music during the practice to work on their skate. At the trials, the skaters will particpate in both a short and long program, which will be the same format as the Games.

Excitement is at a high for the group, Hays said, as figure skating is re-instated in the Games after not being included in the 2016 Games in Greenland due to lack of a facility.

“The skaters were quite disappointed cause they had seen older skaters get the opportunity to go to this,” said Hays, whose daughter skates for the club and is hoping to get the chance to attend her first Games.

“They couldn’t wait to be old enough and at a level that they could skate and here they didn’t have it.”

But this year in Northwest Territories the sport is back in and Hayes said the team is motivated and practising regularly for the chance.

“They are very excited. It’s something they’ve been waiting for,” she said.

The day following the two competitions, a free skate will be held at the Canada Games Centre as part of Canada 150 Skating Day.

Announced in March, skating will be celebrated across the country with skating activities organized through Skate Canada.

This includes free skate activities throughout the country’s capital cities, Hays said, and so they have been working in conjunction with Skate Canada and the Games Centre for the day’s activities.

The skating club teaches Skate Canada’s learn to skate program CanSkate, which Hays said is their largest group of skaters each year.

This program goes through levels teaching new skaters the basic skills which can then lead them to move on to different skating sports including speedskating and hockey.

Hays said there are quite a few skaters who continue with the club past the CanSkate program with an interest in figure skating and then they move to a different group in the club.

The group is noticing an increase in younger skaters in the CanSkate program in the past year and a bit, Hays said, with more kids getting involved and learning how to skate.

The group will make a trip down to B.C. as a club near the end of the season in April and that will be the main team competition following the Games, Hays said.

Some skaters go alone and compete in Skate Canada competitions in British Columbia as the Yukon is grouped with B.C. in Skate Canada.

The Gold Nugget Competition will be open to other clubs and skaters, but Hays noted they aren’t aware of any figure skating clubs or coaches outside of Whitehorse and any skaters coming to compete.

The disciplines include singles free skate, creative improv, interpretive, solo dance and elements.

The competition for each discipline is split into different levels based on skill.

The event will also present a chance for the CanSkate beginners to show their skills in a competition not against each other, but to show improvement in their own abilities, Hays said.

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