Lethbridge hosts some of the best figure skaters in Western Canada Nov. 2-5 at the ATB Centre, which will be home to the annual Skate Canada Alberta Northwest Territories Nunavut Sectional Championships.
The event features 257 skaters ranging from age 10 pre-juvenile category to more experienced skaters like Keegan Messing and Eric Liu, who have competed at the international level.
There will be three local skaters competing in the event including Romy Malcolm, who is competing in the Juvenile Women U14 category. She is coached by Darren Gillett. Kyra Piekema, 12, coached by Olea Taboulchanas, is competing, as well as Elizabeth Davis, 11, coached by Angela Mann and Nina Evans, who is competing in her second sectionals.
“We hosted a similar event in 1993. It featured Dawson Nodwell, who was the guest skater at our carnival last year,” said Tanya Whipple, board secretary and co-chair for the event.
“This will be the qualifying event for the nationals,” she continued, adding sectionals are held in a different city each year.
“The majority of the skaters come from out of town, so there is a great economic impact for the city because their families come here with them,” she said.
Each skater in most categories will perform both a short program and a longer program.
“The coaches come up with the choreography,” Whipple continued.
“They train year round for this. Our program starts in September, but a lot of them train through the summer and go to summer classes.”
“Some of the ones who competed use the program they used last year, but add a few things,” Whipple said.
In addition to the skaters and their families, the event requires at least 70 volunteers to help in a variety of areas including ice cleaning, music, ice patching and handing out awards.
In addition to the skating itself, Whipple enjoys watching the event come together.
“I really watch the event come to fruition. And for the skaters, I love that the competitors can see this calibre of skating and see how far they can take this if they want to right here on their own ice,” Whipple said.
Kyra Piekema is excited to skate at her first sectionals in the Juvenile Under 14 category.
“I just like competing in a new event,” she said, noting her routine includes four doubles.
“It’s going to be fun,” she said.
Her coach, Angela Mann, who has been coaching figure skating for 25 years, enjoys the process of getting her students.
“It’s very exciting. For them it’s just another solo. We prepare for the whole year,” Mann said.
Elizabeth Davis is excited to compete in her second sectionals, though she is competing in a new category this year.
“I like that I’ll have home ice advantage,” Davis said.
“Last year I was in Pre-Juvenile, but this year I’m in Juvenile,” she added.
“Last year I loved just being in the top 21 best skaters in my age,” she said, adding she is excited to skate to music from Jurassic Park.
Her coach, Olea Taboulchana, has been coaching Davis since she was five years old.
“It’s nice to see her doing so well. It’s a lot of hard work,” she said. “A lot of them are excited when it’s over because it means they can take a break and have some fun.”
She noted skating on home ice can be beneficial depending on the skater.
“Skating at home can give them more confidence. They know the ice and psychologically it can be less distracting,” she said.
Tickets to attend the event are $10 for the entire event, $5 for seniors and children 7-12 and free for children six and under.
Daily passes are $5 for adults, three events for seniors and children and free for children six and under.