Ann Shaw, Skate Canada Alumni Committee member chats with Joyce Hisey about her experience as a Team Leader at the annual senior competition in Oberstdorf, Germany.
A fun holiday message from our alumni, Elizabeth Putnam, Patrick Chan and their sweet pup, Poppy!
Oh, the People You’ll Meet!** (With apologies and thanks to Dr. Seuss)
Written by Susan Heffernan
“Out there things can happen and frequently do
To people as brainy
And silly as you.
Oh, the people you’ll meet!”
As I reflect on my skating journey it is about the PEOPLE I’VE MET. Skaters, coaches, volunteers and of course my fellow officials.
So many people with so many stories.
Like Dr. Seuss, I will start at the beginning.
Three men that I did not know well but who showed great kindness to me:
Norrie Bowden At one of my first competitions he saw me studying the results and came up and said, “Let’s leave and get a drink. I always find these things easier to look at the next day.”
So wise, so kind.
Ralph McCreath for showing me a different way to run an event review meeting. Three bottles of champagne + saying, “Let’s talk about skating.” Best meeting ever.
Donald Gilchrist for his amazing knowledge of skating. Whenever I was with him I was in total awe and I loved his great sense of humor.
Actually that isn’t the “beginning beginning.” The real beginning would start with:
THE TWO AUDREY’S
Audrey Williams, my main mentor, was always right there when I was in a jam. The forever questions: a) “Can they skate?” b) “Are they a Pair?” Thank you Audrey.
Audrey Moore, your kind encouragement of me especially in the world of Dance always inspired.
“Oh, the people you’ll meet!
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with
Many strange birds as you go.”
THE BIRDS THAT FLEW WEST
First to fly west was Mary Pearson and how lucky was B.C. to have this wise and knowledgeable person land on our doorstep.
It seemed to me Mary always had the skaters in the “right order” Remember the old 0 – 6 system?
Jean Senft came next bringing style and dance knowledge. Of all the officials in Canada I think I have travelled with Jean the most. “What happens in Oberstdorf———–stays in Oberstdorf!”
Yes Jean, you, Jack and I were the Three Little Pigs, so aptly named by Joyce Hisey.
Beth Crane came to Seattle, making her part of the B.C. group.
From the minute she noticed “Things were a little different out West”, we knew she would fit in right away. Her current work on the +5 / -5 is internationally recognized. Again, B.C. was fortunate.
Sally Rehorick was finally able to “follow her soul” and live in Vancouver and as a result all of us in the province were so happy. Sally is recognized locally, nationally and internationally for all her amazing work. Seminars are what she and I have done together so many times —- Sally let’s rearrange those chairs one more time!
THE ALBERTA MAFIA
When I began judging nationally, there was the greatest group of people from Alberta: Rosemary Marks, Fran Jukes, Lawrie Bonney, Margie Birdsell, Phyllis McNally and Sheena Meurin.
These people knew how to have fun and were excellent judges.
A number of them went on to become International Officials both as judges and team leaders.
“Oh the people you’ll meet!”
THE PRAIRIE GIRLS
Margie Sandison I am sure there is no one in our judging ranks who was more fun and had more stories to tell. I will not mention being ill while judging figures in St. Gervais and getting your hair done Margie!
Ann Dorherty It was always great to talk with Ann about skating as she brought a wide knowledge of all aspects of our sport. Together with Margie they brought wonderful “prairie common sense.”
“So be sure when you step,
Step with care and great tack
And remember that life’s
A great balancing act.”
“THE STEPPERS” – THE DANCING FOLK
Anne Shaw outlined in her article how wonderful the National Training Seminars were especially the Dance ones but she did not mention herself. Ann always covered the free dance section. One year she had us watch the top ten dance teams in the world paying particular attention to the men. Rob McCall ———— hands down amazing!
Dennis MacFarlane taught us the new rhythm for the OSP. As an academic, Dennis always made his presentation informative and SO much fun. We all loved to watch his hips!
Joyce Hisey (surprise! surprise!) was organizing all of us. Apart from the seminars, I always think of Joyce knitting at St. Gervais/Obertsforf and saying, “These singles skaters CAN NOT keep time to the music!”
For all of us Dance Judges (of an era), Joyce and Ann encouraged us so much. Thank you both.
THE LOCAL FOLK
Shirra Kenworthy was one of the few National/International judges who had competed at the very highest levels. As a judge I always wanted to hear her point of view because I knew I would learn something from her extensive background.
Janice Hunter I could not write this without mentioning Janice although she is still actively judging. Her knowledge of the rules is second to none. As a testament to this knowledge, she has just rewritten the Skate Canada rulebook. Also she is an amazing friend.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
There are two people who sent me on “The places you’ll go/the people you’ll meet” journey.
First my Mother, Jean Heffernan, for suggesting/encouraging me to judge …
Barbara Graham for …………… well ………….. EVERYTHING!
Thank you both.
** Footnote: As many of you will have noticed, I played with the title “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Since this was first presented by Dr. Seuss as a graduation speech, I highly recommend it as a high school or university graduation gift.
Once Upon an Ice Rink…
Written by Wendy Martin-Stroyan
“In first place, receiving the Gold Medal and Champions of Canada – Louise & Barry Soper”. As the announcer’s words are absorbed by the audience, the Soper’s glide to centre ice…bowing and acknowledging the crowd’s reaction. In the moment, do they remember what they felt? The excitement and reward of reaching that goal, having all the work and training and family sacrifice come together meeting that goal? Thirty-seven years later, they are left with impressions of that time – they remember moments and treasure people and experiences; but do they truly remember standing there on the podium?
Louise remembers being nervous; Barry remembers being lucky to be skating with Louise. Louise also remembers receiving beautiful Prestige cutlery for representing Canada at the 1973 UK-hosted International with the same name (in fact they still have some of the cutlery). And Barry remembers the feeling of receiving Canada crests and shoulder patches to be sewn onto his skating tuxedo – right after becoming Canada’s Ice Dance Champions. But more than that, this meant they’d be skating for not just themselves and their coach – at their first international competition; they were now representing Canada!
What did their parents say? Today we include parents as an integral part of the team producing a high performance athlete. Then? “They were happy for us”, says Louise. “Sometimes they even travelled to watch us perform, but we each had other siblings at home who needed our parents ‘on deck’”.
Louise and Barry Soper: one of the famous love stories of Canadian Figure Skating. This was a big “thing”; you watched the performance between these two athletes on the ice and saw a spark. You want to root for them. You want to buy the illusion of a connection and want to believe what you are seeing is real. In the Sopers’ case, it was. Everyone talked about it; everyone watched this amazing couple as they worked their way through the levels of Ice Dance in our country. Winning Novice, Junior and Senior titles (one of only a select few who have since then achieved such a feat – Louise and Barry were the first), the Sopers’ were the romantic story that the skating world followed. Youngsters (like Tracy Wilson) watched the handsome couple perform and wanted to “be” them; wanted to “be” the beautiful Louise Lind.
Louise started to skate as a regular activity that she did with her family. The Linds’ belonged to the Capilano Winter Club in North Vancouver. It was a family club with swimming and tennis, curling and skating (hockey, figure skating) and the families there did a little of everything. When your parents are there on the ice with you, it just makes sense to participate – it was a family activity. Louise excelled at swimming but loved the freedom and speed and flow of skating. She loved to jump and was really enjoying her lessons with the club “Pro” Mr. Alex Fulton. Louise was enjoying success as a free-skater even though that meant that you had to keep working on your school figures and skaters needed competence in both to move ahead.
Barry’s family also belonged to ‘Cap’. Tennis was the draw for Barry’s family, but he also enjoyed skating and wanted to play hockey, until he realized the ratio of girls to guys on the figure skating sessions. He asked his Mom about the sport and was encouraged to participate. Then as he got more involved in his lessons with Mr. Fulton, he participated in a partnership with Benita Cave – competing in Novice Dance nationally in 1966. This was in fact the very first year that Novice events were included in the Canadian Figure Skating Championships and, while they earned a Silver medal in the dance event, Benita’s success in the Novice singles event that year resulted in other plans for her skating career and the partnership folded. Barry returned to Mr. Fulton, who asked if there was anyone else at the club who he would like to skate with. “Louise Lind”, said Barry, without hesitation. Mr. Fulton encouraged him to go and ask her…with no success. Barry described himself as being “an unbelievably shy, zero-confidence guy” at the time – “no way could I do that”. Mr. Fulton (taking pity on his student) went right over and asked Louise if she would dance with Barry. Barry says that “Louise, although a very good free-skater, was rarely positioned to win as a result of her ‘so-so’ figures”. Louise thought “ice dance might be more fun.”
That was the start of 10 years of skating together, but their first major success came only 9 months after the partnership was formed. They entered their first “CFSA” National Ice Dance event taking place in Toronto, Ontario, and won – 1967 Novice Ice Dance Champions! This was followed by the 1969 Junior Ice Dance title and then the 1971 Senior Ice Dance title at Canadians in Winnipeg, Manitoba – making them the first Canadian figure skaters to win all three levels of national competition.
That Senior National title was the first of 4 for this amazing team; they represented Canada on the World Stage from 1971-74, achieving a ‘Top-Ten’ finish the last 3 times. Olympics weren’t an option during their career, with the discipline of Ice Dancing being added in 1976 – after their 1974 retirement from competition.
This on-ice partnership was also an ‘off-ice’ one. While Barry was smitten from the start, it took Louise a little bit to come around. Barry knew that Louise was seeing someone else and had decided, that if he couldn’t be involved with her romantically, then the least he could do was try to make the experience fun. Making Louise laugh became his secondary focus (while maintaining their training plan). It turns out that if you are a shy person and are having a good time with your skating partner, others pale in comparison and Louise eventually chose Barry as her ‘off-ice partner’, too.
They planned the work and worked the plan. Barry was the driver behind the training, with both making sure that they not only competed successfully but they also continued to pursue their personal skating tests. Louise completed her triple Gold by earning her Gold dance tests with Barry; having already achieved Gold Figures and Free-skate. They searched for more goals to work toward and decided to pursue American Gold ice dance tests, travelling to Sun Valley, Idaho, five times for more summer skating – not only taking tests but also participating in the annual summer ice show there. All the while the relationship grew; they had fun together and were a right fit – both on the ice and off!
Barry and Louise both pursued their education while training and representing Canada as athletes. Louise was a graduate of the very first Dental Hygiene Program at UBC; Barry received his Bachelor of Education also attending UBC – both in 1970. In the midst of all this, they planned a wedding – marrying on June 26, 1971.
Life after competition involved more skating. They spent the next year performing both ice dance and adagio styles at various carnivals and ice shows across Western Canada, while resuming their careers (put on hold in 1972 when first a family friend stepped forward to assist financially, followed by a private backer the next year). Barry expanded his horizons beyond teaching to working in the real estate field and kept connected with the sport by dance partnering and coaching locally. A house purchase in 1975 cemented their roots in North Vancouver and children arrived: starting with Amy Louise in 1976, Tiffany in 1978, Sean in 1980 and Jay in 1982.
Life takes over and suddenly the nest is empty and you focus on other things. Barry changed careers to become a financial advisor, while substituting gym workouts for partnering and coaching. Louise finally retired from her long dental hygiene career and now pursues singing with a choir. They were thrilled to be inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1979 in the Team category and then into the Skate Canada BC/YK Section Hall of Fame in 2016 in the Athlete Category.
In 2014 they were invited by Skate Canada to a gala celebration at the National championships in Ottawa, to mark 100 years of the national championships. All past Senior Champions, as well as the members of Skate Canada’s Hall of Fame (in operation since 1990) were invited. This rekindled their connection(s) to the sport. Louise and Barry have been active participants in the Skate Canada Alumni Committee, as it evolved out of this celebration, and this blog is a result of that connection.
Louise Lind and Barry Soper – took to the ice, stole our hearts and the nation’s attention, went for the gold, and ended up with a diamond. And they are living happily ever after.
Most Memorable Career Moments
- Becoming Ice Dance Champions of Canada in 1971
- Skating on the outdoor rink in Sun Valley, Idaho
- Re-learning the basics of ice dance in 1971 with World-renowned coach Gladys Hogg (Coach of our coaches Robin & Heather Jones). CFSA-paid-for 3-week training session in London, UK (CFSA did not send dance teams to international competitions at that time, except for: North Americans and Worlds)
- Becoming Ice Dance Champions of Canada in 1971
- Being partnered with Louise Lind in 1966
- Earning a ‘Top-Ten’ placement for Canada at Worlds 1972 in front of home crowd in Calgary, Alberta (ending a 3-yr. drought of only 1 dance team on the Canadian team to Worlds)
Author: Wendy Martin-Stroyan
With one foot on the ice and the other in the Community, Wendy is a retired Professional Figure Skating Coach, past Club Service Delivery Consultant for Skate Canada and a former staff member at the BC/YK Section office in BC. These days, Wendy can be heard rather than seen at rink-side for BC/YK, Skate Canada and ISU events as an event announcer. In her local community Wendy is well known as an event coordinator and fundraiser, with Abbotsford Hospice holding a special place in her heart.
Skate Canada Alumni Celebrate at Grand Prix Final
It’s been less than a year since many of Skate Canada’s Alumni celebrated their history and contributions to skating in Canada, all while enjoying great skating back in January at the National Championships in Vancouver. Sixty-four alumni, retired athletes, coaches, officials and Hall of Fame members, visited together to renew friendships and increase awareness of skating’s incredible history in Canada and around the world.
This month, once again in Vancouver, Alumni were back for an encore performance at the Grand Prix Final – an event which many consider a mini-Worlds. With only 6 competitors in each of the four disciplines, in both junior and senior categories, it was a thrilling opportunity to see many of the finest skaters in the world!
The visit began with the best Vancouver offers. The sunshine welcomed us into the city’s green blanket and stayed for several days, highlighting the mountains and vistas of the sea. It doesn’t get much better than that!
And like the city’s best, the BC Section volunteer organizers showed why they are regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of volunteers. When partnered with Skate Canada’s well-oiled professional events team, every visitor was treated with BC’s special brand of warmth and hospitality, which definitely made for an outstanding experience.
Despite the appearance of many star-studded Alumni in the audience, the real stars of the event, of course, were the current athletes and the magic they showed on the ice. Competitive skills were at an all-time high and although Canada’s team was small, every member staked out a claim for the future – including 13-year old Stephen Gogolev. He might have been a last-minute addition to the roster, but he clearly dominated in Junior Men to win the gold medal.
For Alumni participating in the Alumni Program, they enjoyed a special VIP ticket package which included preferred seating, VIP designation, lounge access, shuttle transportation, special hospitality events, a beautiful program and a commemorative event pin … as well as new and renewed friendships.
The party began with Wednesday evening’s Welcome Alumni Social, an opportunity for many alumni to reconnect and in this case to welcome new members like Patrick Chan, the event’s Athlete Ambassador, and Elladj Balde, Skate Canada’s Facebook host. More photos of Alumni Social…
At the rink and between events, Alumni were invited to the VIP Lounge where the Protrans Arena was transformed into a luxurious ‘salon’ to enjoy a canape-style buffet, barista and wine bar – all surrounded by Canadian holiday décor and featuring quality VIP service in every sense of the word.
In the sold-out competitive venue, a short indoor walk to the Thunderbird Arena, Alumni enjoyed a fantastic display from the BC Sports Hall of Fame, including memorabilia from World Champion Karen Magnussen, World Champion Victor Kraatz (& Shae-Lynn Bourne), Olympic bronze medalist Tracy Wilson (& Rob McCall), and former Canadian Ice Dance Champions Louise & Barry Soper, as well as other skaters from BC’s storied past such as World Pairs bronze medalist Katherina Matousek (& Lloyd Eisler) and Canadian Ice Dance medalists Donna Lee & JD Mitchell. Along the concourse, holiday shopping was at full throttle and, for the art lover, Toller Cranston prints were available for purchase.
During breaks and ice-cleans, Patrick and Elladj entertained the in-venue audience with games, t-shirt tosses, and interviews, interspersed with delightful word-guessing duels between national team members, such as Larkyn Austman and Keegan Messing – Keegan, a late addition to the Grand-Prix Final when Yuzuru Hanyu could not attend.
Before exhibitions on Sunday, alumni met up again at the UBC Golf Club for brunch. Hosts and former national team members Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe emceed the event. Skate Canada President Leanna Caron spoke about Skate Canada’s support of the Alumni Program and the appreciation the Organization feels for the magnificent legacy provided by the Alumni.
Guest speaker Patrick Chan, a new member of the Alumni, shared some of the life lessons skating has taught him along the road of his 3-time Olympic adventure. He offered fascinating fresh insight into some of the challenges of maintaining his competitive prowess for 3 Olympiads, especially having already achieved three consecutive World titles. More photos of Alumni & Friends Brunch…
Next up in the Alumni Program? The National Championships in Saint John, NB in January.
If you’re a former national team member or coach, national official or Hall of Fame member, the telling of your stories is important to our history. Come join our program and reconnect with your love of skating. It’s through your contributions and history that we can “Encourage the present and inspire the future”.
To find out more, connect with Celina Stipanic at [email protected].
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E-mail us your stories, photos, thoughts, suggestions and questions. We can’t guarantee we’ll print each one however we will certainly read every word and in the case of questions, find answers to them all.
Contact Celina Stipanic, Alumni and Fund Development Manager at [email protected]