Christopher Mabee – Canadian Medalist
So … I Joined the Circus …
Where have I been? What have I seen? More importantly what the heck have I been doing? The last question I sometimes still ask myself. So, let me tell you what has been happening in my life since I left competitive skating.
2008… a change, a struggle, and a new opportunity. I was not in a good head space leading into the 2009 season. I was struggling with motivation, finances, and my own personal demons. Around September, 2008 I moved back home with my parents and had a time of reflection.
OK… This is going to get sappy and weird for one second, but I PROMISE it ends well.
I hated skating, I was in a depression, and I lacked direction. My first initial thought was “get a job, pay off your debts, move on with your life and leave skating behind”. I didn’t have any money to start something new and all my close friends were doing and encouraging me to do shows as a professional ice skater. Best idea for me at the time was to follow my friend’s advice and run off to join the circus … I mean, professional ice skating world. After some exchanges of emails with a couple of producers and casting directors, I managed to land my first job with Disney on Ice as a semi principal in High School Musical (The Ice Tour!).
Oddly enough, I was going to start touring in the same arena I had my last Nationals in 2008 (Vancouver). I walked in to the familiar rink with a pit in my stomach. I couldn’t believe I was back. After a whirlwind of rehearsals and figuring out what counting was, guiding, being a spare, understudies, make up, costume changes and what being a professional skater meant, there I was. “Opening Night!” Nervous, scared, excited were only a few of the emotions I felt before making my professional debut.
It was all a blur. One moment I do remember though is being in finale on the set doing the choreography (or a cute interpretation of the choreography because my mind went blank and my first thought was to look to my friend to the left of me and copy her, but it was too late… I was already a mess). The final BOOM of the music happened and like a moment in a movie, fireworks went off, the crowd was roaring, and I was a part of something. I was a part of skating again (see… I told you it would get better). I remember being so surprised to have fallen head over heels with skating again. It was back in my life with new meaning. From that moment on I knew I was made for the circus.
It has been nearly 10 years since that moment and I am still heavily involved in professional ice skating. I work for a wonderful company (Willy Bietak Productions) with multiple ice shows, including Broadway on Ice and the shows produced for Royal Caribbean Cruise ships. I performed for 8 years on board these ships, but now, instead of being front and centre on the stage all the time, I have the privilege of teaching these wonderful shows to the professional skaters of the future. Don’t get me wrong … I still perform … it’s in my blood to perform, but I am mostly teaching these days and that’s fine with me.
I recently was given the opportunity to work with Christopher Nolan (one of the Director/Choreographers) and newly inducted Canadian/US/World Figure Skating Hall of Famer Sarah Kawahara (seriously… who gets to be in all those Halls of Fame?) as the Assistant Choreographer with their newest productions, iSkate 2.0 and 1977 on the largest cruise ship in the world, Symphony of the Seas.
Just recently I have wanted to get back involved in the competitive skating scene (NOT TO COMPETE… I will stop that rumor now). Exploring different opportunities and seeing what is out there for me beyond the world of coaching and getting reacquainted with our evolved sport is next on my agenda.
It has been a crazy journey so far, and I have a feeling it’s only just begun. I enjoy the new challenges that come my way, and I constantly surprise myself by what I am capable of. I have traveled around the world more than once. I have seen places I thought I would never see and there is still more to explore! If you follow social media, you can watch some of my journey @cmabeesk8 on Instagram. I usually post about food (because there are some amazing plates of food that everyone MUST see!), and some of the fun stuff I get to see along the way, and also some nice family moments. Being an uncle is the greatest experience!
Anyway, I must say that I feel very lucky to still be a part of this skating world, and even more lucky if I can find a way to share my passion with other skaters who maybe are starting their professional careers the same way I did. It really is a gift which I don’t take for granted.
So, in the end, running away with the circus was the best thing I could have ever done.
National Team Skater Elladj Baldé Retires from Competitive Competition
National team skater Elladj Baldé, 27, Montreal, Que., has retired from competitive competition. Baldé has been an active member of the Canadian figure skating team since 2007 and has competed internationally for Canada 27 times as a junior and senior competitor.
“I can’t express the amount of gratitude I have for all of my peers and fans who have given me such endless support throughout the years. Finishing my career, the way I did at Canadian Nationals was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life and I am so thrilled to forge ahead with the exciting opportunities that lie in my professional career,” said Baldé.
Baldé won the Canadian junior title in 2008 and would go on to compete at nine senior Canadian championships, making the national team five times. In 2015, he won his first gold medal on the international scene at the Nebelhorn Trophy.
“Elladj’s innovative style of skating combined with his powerful technical abilities left a lasting impression on all those that saw him skate. His drive and dedication to skating made him a long-time fan favourite who has been exciting to watch over the years and will be dearly missed on the competitive scene,” said Mike Slipchuk, High Performance Director, Skate Canada. “Skate Canada would like to thank Elladj for inspiring Canadians to embrace the joy of skating and we wish him the best of luck with his future plans.”
Baldé will continue to stay involved in skating through professional shows, where he is already entertaining crowds around the world. Alongside his new career as a choreographer, he is also keeping busy inspiring the next generation of athletes with his new company, Skate Global. Founded with friend and fellow figure skater Liam Firus, Skate Global is a multi-faceted platform that provides insight, assistance and training methods to coaches and young figure skaters all around the world.
Benoît Lavoie named Honorary Associate of Skate Canada
Over the weekend at the 2018 Ice Summit the Skate Canada Board of Directors named Benoît Lavoie as an honorary associate. This honorary associateship recognises his domestic and international contributions to figure skating and his dedication to volunteerism. The recommendation was made by Leanna Caron, Skate Canada President, supported by the Board of Directors, and approved by membership vote during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, May 26th in Calgary, Alberta.
“I am deeply touched to be awarded this honour. Skating has always been a passion of mine and I am thankful I have been able to contribute in a positive way. Over my years in the sport I have had many mentors and friends who have helped guide me and I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to give back once again,” said Lavoie.
Lavoie is a former President of Skate Canada and is a current member of the International Skating Union (ISU) Council. He has been a skating volunteer for over 30 years and has dedicated numerous hours to the improvement of skating in Canada and around the world. Over the years he has held many roles including competitor, world judge, referee, and technical controller.
“Skate Canada is pleased to have Benoît as an honorary associate of the organization. His experience and passion for skating is seen at all levels, from the local clubs, to the national and international stage, and he is committed to taking the sport further and inspiring everyone to embrace the joy of skating,” said Leanna Caron, President, Skate Canada.
The AGM was followed by the Achievement Awards Gala and Banquet – an evening that also celebrated many other dedicated members of the Canadian skating community who have donated their time and expertise to the advancement of skating in Canada. Click here for a full list of award winners.
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