A former top Canadian figure skater and international performer has taken over the head coach position of the Spruce City Skating Club.
Coach Rory Allen skated with the Canadian national team for three years from 2001-02 to 2004-05. Allen started this week with the local club as the head coach and skating director.
"I've been coaching for eight years now - all in northern B.C. I've coached in Quesnel and Fraser Lake as well," Allen said. "Recently I was hired by Royal Caribbean for their shows. I just returned from there in September of last year."
Allen said he hopes to build the club's membership by focusing on skill development and providing opportunities for skaters of all ages.
"I trained in Coquitlam in one of the top skating clubs in the country. When I start off with young skaters, it starts with developing that passion... for being on the ice," he said. "The skating club is the starting point for all ice sports - hockey, ringette, power skating... regardless of the sport, it's the place to start."
Building young skaters confidence on the ice though skill development is a proven strategy promoted by Skate Canada, he said. In Fraser Lake, that resulted in the club growing from just 12 members when he arrived to 60 when he left.
"I'd like them to stay involved to at least [high school] graduation. And in Prince George there is a college and university, so maybe even longer," he said. "We do a lot of off-ice training as well. I've followed a lot of European off-ice training methods that I've learned and seen from my fellow performers."
Prince George has a low per-capita participation in the club, compared to Fraser Lake and Quesnel where he last coached, he said.
"In a town like Fraser Lake, with [approximately] 1,125 people, I had 35 in my advanced program," he said. "The participation rate in Prince George is really low. There is still some gaps at this time."
Allen said during his time coaching in Fraser Lake and Quesnel he fell in love with the North.
"Prince George is the hub of the North," he said. "I'm really hoping to establish myself here... and stay quite awhile."
For more information about the Spruce City Skating Club, go online to www.skateprincegeorge.com
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