The tearing down of the Kin Centre has resulted in the building up of a beneficial new relationship between the Prince George Figure Skating Club and the Spruce City Skating Club.
As the Kin Centre goes through partial demolition and reconstruction for use during the 2015 Canada Winter Games and beyond, ice space in the facility has been at a premium. That being the case, the two local skating clubs -- traditional rivals -- merged for the running of a six-week summer school. The pooling of coaches and skaters from the organizations had a positive impact on athlete development and that is reflected in the fact that 11 area skaters will compete at B.C. Summer Skate from Thursday through Sunday in Burnaby.
"This is definitely a record [for participation]," said Rory Allen, director of skating for Spruce City. "Last year, Spruce City as a club had two."
The P.G. and Spruce City clubs are planning a permanent merger in the near future. Allen said it's "very close" to happening.
Other summer school coaches were Andrea Ludditt, Nicole Collins, Jennifer Auston, Courtney Powney, Allison Aikens, Jim Douglas and Alicia Mettauer.
Summer Skate is a provincial Super Series event and, on a much smaller scale, will have the look and feel of a Skate Canada. The competition will be broadcast online at skatinginbc.com.
"The live streaming is similar to what you'd see on TV," Allen said. "They'll have their names announced and it's all professional. They'll have a little area they go in to hear the marks. It's really, really cool for the kids."
The highest-level local skater going to B.C. Summer Skate is 16-year-old Danielle Sidsworth. She'll be on her blades in the novice women's category.
"The Olympic level is senior, below that's junior and below that's novice, so she's getting up there," Allen said.
"Danielle's chances [at Summer Skate] are high. She has developed great consistency on her double-double combinations. She carries herself well and she's got great coverage across the ice. It's great to do two crossovers and be halfway across the ice. She's one of those types of girls that people just want to watch, before they even do any elements."
In the pre-novice women's division, Prince George will be represented by Chelsea Raful and Samara Thew. Then there's Justin Hampole, who will do his best to impress the judges in the juvenile men's U-11 category. Hampole is so talented he's on the verge of moving up to pre-novice.
"There are no competitors in his [current] group because he's so good at such a young age," Allen said. "He's starting triple jumps at age 10. In pre-novice, he'll have the chance to qualify for nationals. The average age in pre-novice is about 15 or 16 but Justin has the right combination of everything. He has some natural talent, a ton of drive and determination and he listens very well to his coaches."
The local contingent going to Summer Skate is rounded out by Emma Bajestani (juvenile women's U-14), Fort St. James's Sydnee Schlamp (Star 4), Ally Norum (Star 3), Jayna Mason (Star 3), Asia Gill (Star 3), Myah Milner (Star 2) and Valyce Mamic (Star 2). The nine-year-old Milner and eight-year-old Mamic are from Fort St. John and Quesnel respectively but have been training in Prince George.
"Myah stayed with a grandmother, and to not see her family and be home for more than six weeks is pretty astounding," Allen said. "Valyce, she travels up through the entire winter from Quesnel, several times a week, and she spent her summer here as well. There's a lot of dedication at a really young age, which is quite a big change for figure skating in Prince George."
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