In the last year, Ally Norum has made the biggest jump in her figure skating career.
The 11-year-old from Prince George who skates out of the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating is currently ranked 10th in the province in pre-juvenile ladies.
The ranking is an accumulation based on her five best scores from October 2014 to October 2015.
"Her scores have continually improved throughout the season," said Andrea Ludditt, NBCCS director of competitive development. "It's based on her technique, quality of skating and her speed. It's largely due to putting in the time and that she just loves skating."
Norum won the bronze medal at the Autumn Leaves meet two weeks ago in Chilliwack.
The cache also included a gold medal by Olivia Trampuh in junior silver ladies, three silver medals and a bronze.
"It's a huge step forward," said Allen of winning that many medals. "It's a Super Series event and one of the larger events in the province. Kids from all parts of B.C. attended and we were the only ones from northern B.C."
Trampuh, 14, scored a personal-best score of 27.77 points, landing two double-double jump combinations in the process.
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In the midst of a July heat wave, the only ice most of those in Prince George will find is at the bottom of a tumbler glass.
But after a six-week hiatus from the May long weekend to June 29, the ice is back in at the Elksentre and that's just fine with the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating.
The club is in week four of its annual nine-week summer skating training session where junior, intermediate and senior figure skaters are honing their skills for the 2015-16 competitive season.
And while it may be tough for some athletes to spend as much as two-and-a- half hours at the rink five days a week during the summer, NBCCS director of skating Andrea Ludditt said it's worth it in the long run.
"Having extra time on the ice is an overall gain," she said. "If we stop the season until September, they're back to where they started. If they do three to four weeks in the summer, that translates into two to three months (in the winter). The improvement in the kids is outstanding."
The summer session attracts not only athletes from Prince George, but those from as far away as Williams Lake, Quesnel and Vanderhoof. Skaters work on their free skating, technique and positioning as well as rule changes in their programs as mandated by Skate Canada.
One NBCCS skater who has taken advantage of the summer ice time is 13-year-old Justin Hampole.
Skating fans in Prince George will remember Hampole's captivating bronze-medal performance in pre-novice men's at the 2015 Canada Winter Games at Kin 1.
This year, he has jumped up a level to novice men's and is testing out his programs this week in Michigan at the 34th annual Skate Detroit competition.
He takes to the ice for his short program on Thursday and will conclude with his free skate Saturday.
"We kept his short program and we added more (elements) to his long because it went from three to three-and-a-half minutes," said Ludditt. "His programs are working really well together. He just needs more triples (jumps). He just has one triple - a triple Salchow which is really beautiful. And he has his double Axel. A lot of these kids he's competing against already have four or five triples."
There are 36 skaters in Hampole's group, including 14 Canadians. Among them are Stephen Gogolev from Toronto, who stood beside Hampole on the Winter Games podium when he captured the pre-novice men's title.
Hampole is the first skater from Prince George who has competed nationally at the novice level.
Ludditt said the club membership has continued to grow over the years and she hopes the success of figure skating during the Winter Games, where fans crammed into Kin 1, will add to the popularity of the sport at the local level.
"The support Justin had (during the Games) was just amazing," said Ludditt. "Our CanSkate program is full and our power skating program (beginning in August)... we're still building."
The youngest athlete the NBCCS has is three (in the junior academy), while the youngest in the junior program is five.
The club resumes its regular training schedule in September when school goes back in session.
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Prince George Citizen - by Andrea Johnson
When Justin Hampole steps onto the ice, he's always nervous.
But the Prince George skater has always found a way to conquer those jitters at provincial- and national-level figure skating meets.
Thursday was a different beast though prior to his short program.
The 13-year-old, who skates out of the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating, was in Michigan for the annual Skate Detroit to compete in the novice men's division.
"I'm always nervous at a competition and this is my first international competition," said Hampole Friday from Detroit.
"Once I got on the ice I felt pretty good. When they announced my name, it was nice to be the only one from northern B.C. and I'm proud to represent northern B.C."
Out of 36 boys in his category, Hampole wound up in a respectable 10th place with a personal-best score of 38.24 points going into today's long program.
He perfectly executed his double Axel but fell on his triple Salchow. He still received full marks for the triple since he still managed to fully rotate it.
"I was really happy with my spins and especially that I rotated the triple Salchow," said Hampole, who won the bronze medal in the pre-novice men's division at his hometown 2015 Canada Winter Games in February.
"I also did well on my step sequence and received bonus points for it."
Hampole's coach Rory Allen, NBCCS's director of skating, said the novice men's event is a tough field.
Since the U.S. does not have age restrictions on its levels, Hampole, in his first year as a novice and in only his second meet as a novice, is competing against boys as old as 18.
Allen, who's in Detroit with Hampole, said his pupil had an excellent skate in the short program.
"It's fantastic coming here," said Allen. "It was only the second time in competition Justin attempted that triple and it's only been consistent in the last two weeks of training.
"He's competing against kids who have year-round ice so it teaches kids to use their ice time efficiently.
"He's only been on the ice for three weeks.
"The whole experience of being here is so eye-opening seeing kids here from Florida, Indiana and California."
In today's long program, Hampole has planned two triple Salchows, one as a single element and the other in combination.
As per U.S. Figure Skating rules, skaters are allowed to execute a double-double-double jump combination. Skate Canada rules allow only a double-double jump sequence.
Hampole will attempt a double Lutz/double toe/double in combination.
"I'm most thinking about my triple Salchows.
"I want to get one down, show people I can rotate them," he said. "I want to perform to the judges and have a good skate."
It's also Allen's first foray as a coach at the international level since Hampole is the first figure skater from northern B.C. to skate at an international meet.
Allen has learned a lot and will bring that back with him to Prince George.
"For us, it's how the U.S. is doing and how do we fit in here," said Allen.
"Justin just needs more mileage on his triples, he's just a novice.
"He's never competed this early in the season. It's now an indication of what he needs to spend his time on. He'll shift working on his toughest triples for a bit early in practice instead of at the end.
"I'm so proud of him. He's only 13 years old. I didn't do my first international competition until I was 16."
Skating fans can tune in online at 2:30 p.m. PDT to watch Hampole's long program at proeventphoto.com/skate-detroit/.
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Skating club taking spotlight
ANDREA JOHNSON / PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN
MARCH 25, 2015 08:48 AM
It's been a long, but successful season for the Northern B.C. Centre For Skating, and now it's time to celebrate.
The NBCCS wants the public to join them for To the Tune of Sport, the club's fifth annual ice show that takes to centre ice Saturday at the Coliseum at 6 p.m. Admission to the show is by donation. All proceeds go back to the club in the form of developing talent and coaches.
"We typically do one every year but this has been a remarkable year," said NBCCS director of skating Rory Allen. "It's a fantastic opportunity for all of our athletes to perform. Andrea Luddit (director of competitive development) thought of the theme and we want to carry on the momentum of the Canada Winter Games. It's a showcase of a variety of sports."
Performing in the ice show are 125 Can Skate Learn to Skate athletes, pre-power athletes - young athletes who are bettering their skills for hockey and ringette - as well as between 12 to 15 academy skaters who are just learning about figure skating.
"There's a lot of young talent up and coming - some of them are as young as two - all the way up to 16 and 17 years old," said Allen.
Fans can also watch 13-year-old Justin Hampole perform. Hampole skated to the bronze medal in pre-novice men's at the Canada Games at Kin 1.
With a jam-packed arena for every event during the second week of the Games, the support figure skating received from the community didn't go unnoticed by the club.
"The Canada Winter Games were phenomenal," said Allen. "It was nice to see the support of the community - there were lineups out the door - it gives us hope to host major events. The skating was top-notch and hopefully some consideration will be given to host national and international events."
As for Hampole, he's competing in a meet in Vancouver in May and will move up to novice for the 2015-16 season.
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Justin Hampole will compete at his hometown Games after all.
Hampole, who trains out of Prince George's Northern B.C. Centre for Skating, was one of 12 B.C. figure skaters named to the 2015 Canada Winter Games team Thursday by Skate Canada B.C./Yukon.
Hampole, a 13-year-old Grade 8 Duchess Park secondary student, will compete in the pre-novice men category.
"Justin is absolutely thrilled," said his coach Rory Allen from the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating. "We found out Tuesday night and made the announcement at the Elksentre. There were hugs and tears and it was extremely emotional for him. Having Justin be there (at the Canada Games) is just tremendous."
Skate Canada B.C./Yukon named the team after the Canadian Figure Skating championships in Kingston, Ont. last weekend.
After winning the bronze at the B.C./Yukon section figure skating championships in November in Prince George, Hampole returned to competition at the Skate Canada Challenge in Montreal in December and he finished 15th overall.
Figure skating takes place from Feb. 23 to 26 at the Canada Games at Kin 1 Arena.
Beres Clements of the Connaught Skating Club in Gibsons will be competing with Hampole in the pre-novice men's category.
The B.C. team also includes Olivia Gran of Kelowna and Alisa Lysenia of Victoria in pre-novice women; and McKenna Colthorp and Ajsha Gorman of Kelowna in novice women.
In novice men, Brian Le of Delta and Benjam Papp of Burnaby will represent B.C.
Ashlynne Stairs and Lee Royer of Burnaby are competing in novice dance, while Tessa Jones and Matthew den Boer Victoria are competing in novice pairs.
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NOVEMBER 21, 2013
If getting there is the hardest part, Justin Hampole will be on easy street by the time he skates at the Skate Canada Challenge national figure skating championships next month in Regina.
The 12-year-old Hampole proved he belongs carving ice with a mostly older crowd in the pre-novice (under-16) division two weekends ago at the B.C./Yukon section championships in Richmond, where he placed fourth to qualify for the national event.
When he gets to Regina, Hampole, a member of the Prince George-based Northern B.C. Centre for Skating, won't have the pressure of trying to qualify for a higher-calibre event. He can just focus on trying to be at his best. He's the first northern B.C. skater in 10 years to qualify for a national competition and he's aiming for a top-10 finish.
"I made the B.C. team and I get to go nationals now and I'm really excited because I get to really promote skating in the community and the north," he said. "My score at Autumn Leaves [a month ago in [Chilliwack] would have put me in the top-10 at nationals last year. I really want to push the envelope with the top skaters who are always used to winning and really push them."
This is Hampole's fifth year of skating and his second season at the pre-novice level. He moved up two levels from pre-juvenile after a second-place finish at the section event in 2011. He's starting to work on triple jumps in practice and is still working out the bugs in his double-axel, a jump he began executing correctly a month ago.
"I've been getting closer to getting it fully rotated," said Hampole. "In Prince George we don't have ice year-round and sometimes that's kind of a disadvantage, but I do work hard when we do have ice and that makes up for it. I think I'm improving my speed and I've been working hard at that. In competitions I tend to hold back on my speed and I want to improve that for nationals."
Hampole, a former swim racer with the Prince George Pisces, skates at least once every day and sticks with his conditioning routine off the ice, focusing on stretching exercises and his plyometrics homework. In Regina, he'll be among 36 skaters in his group.
"Justin is still only 12 and there are kids in his group who are 15, so he has room to grow physically," said Rory Allen, the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating head coach. ""He's going to a national championship knowing he's not going for medal contention, he will be going for experience and to build for the Canada Winter Games. It's a chance for him to get the double-axel done because he's had a few more weeks to train and there's no pressure because he doesn't have to make the cut."
Hampole and 14-year-old clubmate Emma Bajestani will represent Zone 8 at the B.C. WInter Games in Mission in February. Their success this season is being used as a motivational tool in his club, especially for the younger skaters.
Just two male skaters in men's singles will qualify for the B.C. team at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, which is open to skaters under age 16. Next year's section provincial championship [the 2015 Games qualifier] will be held at Kin 1, Nov. 6-9, 2014.
"He's very coachable and he loves skating so much," said Northern B.C. Centre for Skating coach Andrea Ludditt, who is choreographing Hampole's routine. "He's a very sport-specific athlete and at this level, that's what kids have to do. It's hard for him because there's no other competitive male skaters in the region, so he has to go to Vancouver to see what the top guys are doing. He has a pretty intense, time-consuming schedule but he's a good student and that helps with the time he can spend at he rink."
Since kindergarten, Hampole has been a French immersion student at Lac des Bois elementary school and he's s now fluent in French. He also plays piano and loves table tennis. His father Rahul, a Prince George urologist, finished fifth while competing for Saskatchewan in table tennis at the 1983 Canada Winter Games in Chicoutimi, Que.
Justin is looking forward to seeing the pros in action live at CN Centre at the Holiday Festival on Ice, Dec. 8 at CN Centre. Hampole has a front-row seat to watch Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko, Jeffrey Buttle, Joannie Rochette, Shawn Sawyer, and Sinead and John Kerr. The show happens the day after Hampole competes in Regina.
"I really like Joannie Rochette, she's an awesome skater and she's a fighter," said Hampole. "Her mom died two days before she competed at the  Olympics and that's pretty hard to get through.
"You have to be tough mentally. You see people in your group doing some really cool things and sometimes self-doubt comes in and that can play with your mind. The days that you're off, I think you learn from them most. It motivates you."
NOVEMBER 15, 2013
Justin Hampole is poised to become the first Prince George figure skater in more than a decade to compete in a national championship.
Hampole, a 12-year-old member of the Prince George-based Northern BC Centre for Skating, collected 53.63 points on the way to a fourth-place finish in the pre-novice men's competition over the weekend at the Super Series B.C./Yukon sectional championships in Richmond.
With that result, Hampole has qualified for the Skate Canada Challenge national finals in Regina, Dec. 4-8.
In other NBCCFS club results, Emma Bajestani, 14, placed 16th in the juvenile women's event, totaling 21.43 points, a Super Series personal best for Bajestani, who successfully landed five different double jumps and a double-double combination.
The sectional event is the biggest provincial competition of the season. Prince George will host that event in November 2014, which will serve as a test event for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
The most recent Prince George skaters on the national stage in the competitive stream of figure skating competed in late January 2003, at the junior national championships in Brampton, Ont. Three Spruce City Skating Club pairs teams made the grade that year, including: Amanda Ribeiro and Jeff Dinelle; Kalina Manning and Chris Steele, and Ashley Krantz and Brant Abbott. Lacey Jackson and Kyle Postmus represented the Spruce City club in the 2003 senior national championships in early January in Saskatoon.
Prince George officially became home base of the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating on Tuesday.
The centre, which held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Elksentre, is designed to provide local and regional figure skaters the resources they need to reach the pinnacle of their sport, all without having to move to places like Vancouver or Calgary.
"It's all about specialization," said Rory Allen, the centre's director of skating. "The main difference is that we've got program managers for each level and those program managers also specialize in specific elements. When they specialize in specific elements, you see an increase in the quality, where we can be provincially and nationally at the same standard [as bigger cities]."
The Northern B.C. Centre for Skating was formerly known as the Spruce City Skating Club. The name change happened in April, after Spruce City was deemed to have met the standards set forth by the B.C./Yukon section of Skate Canada.
"We've been building up to this grand opening ever since," said Allen, a former national-calibre skater.
Allen said the centre will bring together about 300 skaters and eight coaches, two more than last season. New coaches for 2012-13 are off-ice instructor Sufey Chen, who specializes in yoga, and on-ice instructor Wendy Berezowsky, whose area of expertise is spins. A full support staff has also been put in place and the centre will feature nine junior coaches, who will receive their training at a certification program in October.
Ideally, Allen said skaters will now be able to train in Prince George long-term, even once they graduate from high school. In past years, it was common for the Spruce City club to lose athletes to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and even Kelowna, which has a Centre of Excellence.
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Jayna Mason has big goals for her first spring skating competition.
"I'm going to try to go for silver and gold," said the nine-year-old member of the Northern BC Centre of Skating (formerly the Spruce City Skating Club) about going to the Super Series Victoria Day event, May 17-19, in Surrey.
Mason is one of four skaters in the Stars 4 under-10 program that will represent Prince George at the competition. The other skaters are Asia Gill, Valyce Mamic and Ally Norum. The Stars 4 under-10 program is for figure skaters on the cusp of moving into the more competitive stream and are preparing for the national level.
"I think it's going to be very competitive because there's going to be a lot of girls so it's going to be very hard to place," said Mason.
In addition to the four under-10 girls the Prince George club is sending five other skaters to Surrey - Star 3 skaters Erin Brown and Jessie Drover, pre-juvenile ladies under-14 Shelby Scott, pre-novice men under-16 Justin Hampole and novice ladies under-17 long program Samara Thaw. Rory Allen, director of skating for the Northern BC Centre, said it's a huge accomplishment to send nine athletes to the competition after not sending any two years ago.
"It's not typically a competition that northern athletes participate in," said Allen. "We've been working really hard to extend our season so we can become more competitive with other places in B.C."
Allen coached Hampole at the Super Series last year where the 11-year-old won gold his first time out, which helped spark interest in the competition among his peers.
"He's a very social kid," said Allen. "He comes home and talks positively about his experiences without bragging. He's very levelheaded and he's set a very positive example for the skaters."
Allen added that Hampole was nominated for, and won, the leadership award at the club's awards banquet Saturday.
"He shows up early," said Allen. "He warms up properly. He trains his solos everyday. He does all of the right things and that just raises the bar and sets a higher standard for all the new Star 4 under 10's that are coming up. It just starts creating a whole new generation of dedicated and determined athletes that this area has not seen in a long time."
Hampole placed fifth in the province last November and served as an alternate for Team B.C. at the Canadian junior skating championship. Allen said he's set a goal of a top three finish for Hampole, who normally competes against boys between 13-15 years old.
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Prince George has become a home to the third centre for skating in British Columbia.
The Spruce City Skating Club formally became the Northern BC Centre for Skating at its AGM on Saturday when the club's director of skating Rory Allen put the initiative, first proposed by Skate Canada, to a vote. The other Centre for Skating programs are in Kelowna and Burnaby.
"Those two centres have had fantastic results due to some coaching models and a little bit of a different approach," said Allen. "We've already started to initiate some of those approaches like team coaching, coaches specializing in certain areas and all the athletes benefit.
"There's not necessarily an ownership on, my athletes versus your athletes, it's more of a collaborative approach," he added. "I think that has been instrumental in building towards becoming a centre of excellence which is the ultimate goal."
Allen said by becoming the third Centre of Skating in the province it gives him and his coaches other sources to go to for information in enhancing the skating program.
"We're hoping to do that more where we can ask for feedback and have their directors of development come up and inspect our programs," said Allen. "They've done some auditing on what type of work we're doing and given us feedback. It's certainly a good way to stay connected because the north can be fairly isolated."
Allen said by changing the club's name it opens up areas for other types of skaters, not just figure skaters, to participate. The club already incorporates the national CanSkate objectives into its program.
"It's called the Northern BC Centre for Skating for a reason, just like the university provides a very large scope of education to the north, we see the Centre providing a large scope of coverage for all athletes in the north," said Allen. "The CanSkate program is just our flagship learn to skate program. It provides the basic fundamentals for all ice sports,whether you plan on getting into hockey, ringette, speed skating, recreational skating or competitive figure skating it all starts with CanSkate."
Skaters are already coming into Prince George from Vanderhoof, Quesnel, Fort St. John, Fort St. James and other northern communities to participate in the Centre's programs, said Allen.
The ice is available to the skaters at the ElkSentre until May 13 this year and then, Allen said they'll move to off ice training and conditioning at the Northern Sport Centre and work with PacificSport on fitness assessments.
Interest in figure skating, and skating programs in general, has gone up recently as the 2015 Canada Winter Games approach.
"We have a lot of athletes coming forward to do goal setting because they'd like to be a part of that," said Allen, who skated for B.C. at the 1999 CWG in Newfoundland. "As an alumni I have to say, the experience is out of this world. To see that light in their eyes and to see it as a potential possibility is just so tremendous and has given them an open horizon in terms of places they can go."
Skaters eligible to participate in the Canada Winter Games are in the pre-novice and novice programs. Two ladies and two men will be chosen from each province along with two pairs and two ice dance teams.
"Having three or four northern skaters chosen for Team B.C. would be fantastic but we'll just have to see what happens," said Allen. "It kind of gives us, as a coaching team, a goal of something to work towards."
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