Over ten skaters represented Vanderhoof’s Nechako Figure Skating Club in the first figure skating competition of the season at Cariboo North Central Regional Figure Skating Championships in Prince George over the weekend, joining 250 competitors across the region.
The club’s registration has increased this year, as it handed over the responsibility of running the arena concession to the District of Vanderhoof, requiring less volunteer hours from members, explained Kari Ann Gilbert, the club’s president.
“We had three pre-stars (beginner figure skaters) last year…this year there’s 12,” Gilbert said, adding that the new members provide a good base, as the older figure skaters retire from the program after high school.
For Destiny Fjeller and Larissa Hassman, it’s the first competition of their figure skating career, providing a fun opportunity to evaluate their learning progress in various techniques — including, solos, jumps, and spins.
For Abby Delisle and Shae-Lynn Geernaert, focusing on adding the double Salchow to their jumps at the competition, it’s their ninth year of figure skating.
“I just like learning big jumps and spins…the challenge,” Delisle said. “I’m excited to compete for the first time this year.”
Geernaert enjoys spending time with her fellow figure skaters throughout the years and at competitions.
“It’s nerve-wracking, but when the music starts, you zone out and forget everyone there,” she said.
Grade 6 student Abigail Stewart, who competed for the first time in last year’s regional competition and won first place in the jumps, spins, and creative categories, is learning loop jumps this year.
She’s also looking to improve her sit spins — spins have now replaced jumps as her favourite aspect of figure skating, though she has also performed well in creative events, Stewart explained.
“I often dance around at home,” she said. “I really like music; that helps me.”
Second-generation Nechako figure skaters
For five of the club’s members, figure skating is not new to the family, as their parents had donned on figure skates and competed for the Nechako Figure Skating Club in the past.
“I started [figure skating] when I was three and continued until I was 19,” said Jeannie Garrett, whose nine-year-old daughter Ayva Lewis joined the club three years ago.
“It’s something that I love to do…my favourite was the jumps,” Garett said, adding that her sisters were part of the club as well.
This year, she has returned to the ice with a weekly skate.
“Watching everybody else skating just made me want to do it,” she said.