Figure skaters losing out on events for another year

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Two local skating clubs are back up and running for the season in the Fort Frances area. However, both Borderland Skating Club and Northern Lights School of Skating are looking at another year without higher levels of competition.

Both skating clubs have their various levels up and running, from CanSkate to the more advanced level, STARSkate, as well as hockey power skating programs.

At the Border Skating Club, coach Nicol Katona said they aren’t sure what will happen with regards to competitions this year.

“We are hopeful for some competitions, this year,” Katona said. “Some have been scheduled, whether or not they continue is yet to be determined.”

A figure skater with the Northern Lights School of Skating practices a routine in the fall of 2020. Athletes faced a shortage of events to compete in last winter, and with ongo- ing restrictions, this winter is shaping up the same for local skaters. – Northern Lights School of Skating Facebook photo

Ashley Cumming is the director of Northern Lights, and she said the pandemic has limited the season again this year.

“It’s pretty limited unfortunately again this year because of the pandemic,” Cumming said. “But about half of the figure skaters this week actually are going to a skating seminar in Thunder Bay to see Kurt Browning, so we’re looking forward to that.”

Cumming added that the only event she has on her calendar right now is one in Thunder Bay in March. She said there are lots of events happening in other parts of the province or country but not many that are close enough for local people to travel to them.

Usually, Cumming said, they’d have gone to a competition in Winnipeg in November but the programs were late getting started this year so skaters would not have been prepared.

“Normally we would have gone to Winnipeg for a competition this month,” Cumming said. “But because we started the season so late, by the time the ice was in we wouldn’t have had enough time to prepare for that.”

With so few competitions happening this year will end up a learning year for many participants. For the Border Club, the majority of students are in the CanSkate program.

“The majority of our numbers are definitely in the CanSkate program due to the borders being closed,” Katona said. “We’ve lost a lot of our American skaters that were in the club.”

Between the Fort Frances and Emo CanSkate programs, Borderland Skating Club has 83 students enrolled.

For the more advanced groups, Cumming said they will still have normal skills testing and have skaters learning like they normally would, but skaters are definitely missing out when they don’t get competition experience.

“[They’re missing] the whole experience, the whole social piece, meeting new skaters,” Cumming said. “Seeing that there are other skaters out there training just like them, and competing at the same levels as them, getting feedback from the judges, going out with your family for the weekend.

Another point Cumming made was that skating is quite different from hockey in that there typically isn’t as much social interaction in practice. Skaters are usually working independently. “It’s very different than hockey, right?” Cumming said. “They get this whole social piece with their teams.”