By : Allan Wishart
PG FREE PRESS
Justin Hampole will probably be looking up to a lot of his competitors next week at the Skate Canada Challenge in Regina.
That’s not because Hampole, who skates out of the Northern BC Centre for Skating, is in awe of his fellow skaters in the Pre-Novice Men event. It’s basically because Justin just turned 12, and Pre-Novice Men is for skaters 16 and under, which means a lot of them will be taller than him.
This is the pose Justin Hampole of the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating will be striking the first week of December, when he competes at the Skate Canada Challenge in Regina. Allan WISHART/Free Press
“I’m used to going up against older skaters,” Hampole says, sitting in a change room at the Elksentre before a practice this week. “It’s the youngest age level they have, and it’s what I competed in at Sectionals.”
Placing fourth at Sectionals in Richmond earlier this month got Justin the chance to go to the national event, the first time in 10 years a Prince George skater has done so.
“I’ve been skating for about five years,” Justin says. “Some days I would come to the rink with my family for public skating and we would get here early. There would be figure skaters on the ice and I thought it looked like fun. I saw it on TV too, and it looked like a lot of fun.”
Then, reality sort of set in.
“Wen I started, I thought, ‘This ice is so slippery’. I couldn’t believe how effortless the pros made it look. But right from the start, I liked it, so I stuck with it.”
In Regina next week, Justin will skate two different programs, a short and a long.
“The short program is two minutes and 30 seconds, and the long one is three minutes and 10 seconds. They can deduct points if you’re not right on the time.”
Each of the programs also has a number of elements, including jumps and spins, which must be included.
“My coaches made sure I could connect to the music we were using for my programs. I can really connect with them, which makes it easier to skate to them.”
While he has had the long program for about a year, the short program is relatively new, since he started it just after SummerSkate, about four months ago.
Although going to the Skate Canada Challenge is something new for Justin, the arena might not be.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll be at the Co-Operators, and I’ve skated there before.”
Centre for Skating director of skating Rory Allen says the trip to nationals is a step in a plan they have set up for Justin.
“We were gearing up to this with the 2015 Canada Winter Games in mind,” Allen says. “It’s part of the plan for the development of the athlete.”
He expects Justin to skate well in Regina, but says the results aren’t the most important thing.
“This is an experience thing for Justin. If he can finish in the top half of his event, that would be great. There will probably be 35 to 40 skaters in that event.
“It’s fantastic for him to get the opportunity so young. He still has time to develop at this level.”
Allen says Justin’s qualification speaks to the work of the staff at the Centre for Skating.
“This isn’t a one-room schoolhouse, where one coach has to coach all the aspects. We have coaches here who specialize in certain kinds of spins.
“What we could use is more ice time, both in numbers of arenas and in longer seasons.”
The Skate Canada Challenge runs Dec. 4 to 8 in Regina.
For most youth figure skaters in the region, the 2012-13 season is over.
That’s fine. But don’t suggest offseason to the group of competitive skaters who have been training at the Elksentre.
Under the guidance of coaches Rory Allen and Andrea Ludditt, nine skaters have been preparing for the Super Series Victoria Day competition: Ally Norum, Asia Gill, Valyce Mamic, Jessie Drover, Erin Brown, Shelby Scott, Justin Hampole, Samara Thew and Jayna Mason.
The event runs from May 18 to 20 in Surrey.The skaters range in age from nine to 15, with different levels of experience. Hampole is the only member of the group who’s competed in the Victoria Day event before, having entered last year.
Allen, the Spruce City Skating Club director of skating, notes that two years ago the club had zero members at the competition.
“It’s pretty competitive,” Allen says of the meet. “It eliminates a lot of the smaller clubs just because of the time of year it’s at.”
But in Prince George, there’s been a push for more year round training.
Allen says they’re in the process of making the city the home of the province’s third Centre of Excellence. Centres already exist in Burnaby and Kelowna.
“We’re again trying to build a very big figure skating population in the area, so part of that is trying to be a draw for other clubs to send skaters to participate in our programs,” Allen says.
The Victoria Day competition is the club’s first meet since March.
“That’s what’s so big about this is that normally the season is done,” Allen says. “But we’ve been trying to push for Prince George to become more involved and more competitive with the other centres.”
For Skate BC event listings and other information, visit the website at www.skatinginbc.com
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Figure skater Chelsea Raful knew for a few months she’d be competing in this weekend’s BC Winter Games in Vernon.Spruce City Skating Club director of skating Rory Allen elaborated on Raful’s routine. Could it win her a medal?
Although Raful is the only Spruce City skater competing in Vernon this weekend, she isn’t the only club member making headlines. Ten-year-old juvenile skater Justin Hampole won gold at the Ogopogo competition Feb. 10 to 12 in Penticton, where he also passed his juvenile competitive test.
“He’s having an awesome season,” Allen said of Hampole. “In just under a year, he’s moved up three levels, which is typically very unheard of. Skaters would typically move up one level every one to two years, so in less than a year, he’s moved up three levels.”
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