Featuring Kurt Browning
Fasten your seat belts because this month’s podcast with Norm Proft, Alumni and Skate Canada Competition Services Director, dives into the life and times of Kurt Browning and the friendship they continue to share through skating. Listen as Norm reveals stories behind the success of one of skating’s greatest icons.
Throwback at 2020 National Skating Championships!
By Heather Kemkaran-Antymniuk, Canadian Champion
Once again, our esteemed Skate Canada Alumni gathered at the Alumni Social at the 2020 National Skating Championships this year in Mississauga, Ontario. I have had the pleasure of attending the Alumni events over the past three years after a long absence from our sport and this year, as a new member of the Alumni Committee, I was delighted to host the evening and welcome so many members of our skating family.
As in past Alumni programs, the evening was a special opportunity for the Alumni to celebrate their many friendships and share their excitement about the upcoming competition. For me it was a chance to reconnect with many acquaintances from my past and get caught up on the many different directions we have all gone since our days as competitors. While these “socials” help us, all reflect on the excellence of the past, they also encourage us to acknowledge and support progress in the sport today.
The room was full of skating celebrities including Don Jackson, Karen Preston, Elladj Balde, Brian Orser, Debbi Wilkes, Josée Chouinard, Mike Slipchuk plus many other celebrated coaches, officials, Hall of Fame members and former athletes.
Former Canadian Dance champion Marie McNeil (now Bowness) graciously spoke to the Alumni about her career in ice dance with her partner, the late Robert McCall. Marie also shared with us her current involvement in skating as a technical specialist at the international level and also at the same time expressed her deep gratitude to Skate Canada (known back then as CFSA) for the support that was received during their ice dance career.
Marie McNeil Bowness & Bob Shaw (PHOTO: Greg Kolz)
To add to the evening’s celebration, the Alumni and friends were treated to delicious food and beautiful desserts to enjoy throughout.
And to top off the evening?
Skate Canada has created an original one-of-a-kind pin to be presented to Skate Canada Hall of Fame members. Ann Shaw, Chair of the Hall of Fame, presented the first two pins to current Hall of Fame members, Brian Orser and Eric Gilles, with plans to present more pins over the course of the weekend to those attending the competition, including two new inductees, 6-time Canadian Champion Jennifer Robinson and journalist Steve Milton.
In general, Thursday’s Alumni Social continues to be a very special occasion for alumni attending major events, an evening which demonstrates one-way Skate Canada is acknowledging and celebrating how each of the Alumni has contributed to and promoted our rich Canadian skating history.
The next stop to renew old friendships and create new ones? The upcoming Alumni Social at the 2020 ISU World Figure Skating Championships next month in Montreal. Registration information on the Alumni Social at Worlds can be found under Upcoming Events in this blog issue.
Friendships Renewed and Revisited at the 2020 National Skating Championships!
By Nancy Sorensen, Official
Cruising the concourses and hallways at championship arenas between events is no guarantee you’ll bump into former skating colleagues. If you want to ensure you’ll rub elbows with old friends and skating greats, become a Skate Canada Alumni and attend the Alumni & Friends Brunch.
For Alumni attendees at the recent National Skating Championships in Mississauga, our gathering was held at The Vue, at the Royal Woodbine Golf Course in Etobicoke, Ontario. Skating legends were everywhere in the host room, from new alumnus, Scott Moir, to Joyce Hisey, an up and coming recipient of The Order of Canada. What an illustrious introduction to a gathering of athletes, Hall of Fame members, judges, accountants, coaches and others, who have committed themselves to figure skating over the years!
Whose voice is more familiar than that of Debbi Wilkes. Debbi welcomed everyone, emceed the formal proceedings then turned the microphone over to Scott Moir, three-time Olympic Gold medalist.
Scott reminded us of his appreciation of the support and encouragement over the years that enabled him and Tessa Virtue to go for gold and to be the best they could be. And, what it has meant and means now, to be a part of the skating family.
Ann Shaw, Skate Canada Hall of Fame member, was called to duty to introduce our two honorees, to be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame, 6-time Canadian Champion Jennifer Robinson and journalist Steve Milton.
Jennifer looked wonderful and was accompanied by her family. She was a major competitor representing Canada on world ice with class and grace and with one of the most beautiful lay back spins ever. She amused us with anecdotes about skating experiences during her tenure as our Senior Ladies Champion and international representative. Hearing athletes’ adventures, first hand, makes for entertaining listening!
Steve, whose face appears regularly in the Hamilton Spectator, has covered sports for many years, but was drawn into the skating fold, a definite positive for figure skating. He urged us to pay attention to the “story tellers”, the reporters and commentators who connect our sport with other media and the public at large. How figure skating looks to the world is presented by those who report it. The story tellers link us together.
Steve is proud to represent figure skating in his reporting which has taken him all over the globe. We, in turn, appreciate his objectivity and fair approach in everything he writes about us. All this from a fellow who admits to being a “football and hockey kind of guy”.
Back at the podium, Ann Shaw presented newly Hall of Fame pins to several deserving Skate Canada Hall of Fame members. As with Hollywood Oscar winners, naming names may inadvertently leave somebody out, but how does Fran McLellan, Debbi Wilkes, Joyce Hisey, Donald Knight, Donald Jackson and Bill Ostapchuk sound?
Now, the brunch part! We feasted royally on a sumptuous buffet guaranteed to satisfy every palate. Dessert was a special cake with an edible Skate Canada Alumni logo on top.
The best part of the entire gathering was, without a doubt, the “before and after”, the mixing and mingling. Jane Garden, Audrey Williams, from British Columbia, Valerie Bartlett, from Florida, still training young people in sport management, the Bradshaw’s. One could go on and on! A highlight was the presence of Bruno Marcotte and Meagan Duhamel who brought baby, Zoey, to meet everybody. Young and old, and every stage in between, had the opportunity to catch up with each other, relive memories, talk about the competition, and make predictions about the future of figure skating and the directions it is taking. Who else but skating aficionados could chat forever, it seems, about our favorite topic?
The Skate Canada Alumni family is a very special fraternity. We come from all walks of life, from all over the country, sharing figure skating as a common denominator that unites us.
If Mississauga was such a great reunion, can you imagine the 2020 World Championship in Montreal? Join the Alumni family as there will be an Alumni Brunch there too! Information to purchase tickets to the Alumni & Friends Brunch at the ISU 2020 World Figure Skating Championships can be found under Upcoming Events in this blog issue.
Spinning Out – Behind the Scenes
By Dylan Moscovitch, Olympic Medalist
I originally heard about the new Netflix skating series ‘Spinning Out’ from people talking about it in the Toronto acting scene.
It wasn’t long before I received a call from the Director of skating for the production, Skate Canada Hall of Famer, Sarah Kawahara, to discuss my possible involvement. This happened around the same time that I auditioned for the role of “Mitch” – a main role in the series and the coach of “Serena”. Though the audition went well, the role eventually went to Will Kemp, an established and accomplished actor from the UK (who did a fantastic job).
I was very familiar with Sarah’s name and work, but we had never officially met. After many discussions about me being involved with the production as a consultant and coach (and hopefully as an actor), we nailed down some information and I began working with Kaitlyn Leeb, who was to play “Leah” – the eventual partner of Johnny Weir’s character, “Gabe”.
Since training with Kaitlyn started at the end of 2018, so many things were still up in the air. It wasn’t until January 2019 when Evan Roderick (playing the lead, Justin Davis), arrived in Toronto that myself, along with Sarah and another production skating coach Mark Hird, started working with him that I got confirmation that I would be skating as Evan’s double for as much of the skating that we could get done before needing a proper team to do the bigger elements.
While I was doing interviews and commentary for Skate Canada’s live stream at the 2019 Canadian National Championship in Saint John, NB is when my agent, Kate Kellner, informed me that I had been offered the role of the coach of “Jenn”, a talented skater and best friend to the main character, “Kat”, played by Kaya Scodalerio The actor playing the role of “Jenn” ended up being an old friend from skating, Amanda Zhou! I was pumped!
Once I got back to Toronto, things got under way rather quickly. We had many long and intense rehearsal days leading up to the first day on set. That first day was a bit crazy as I did double duty… in the same scene! My character had a short scene with “Jenn” where she’s stretching upstairs and watching through the window at “Justin” and “Leah” skating.
We filmed mine and Amanda’s scene with Evan and Kaitlyn skating the pattern for our eye-line. Immediately after that I had to run downstairs, get my hair redone, change and go out on to the ice to do a side-by-side triple toe with Maddie Scisaz, who was playing Kaitlyn’s double for “Leah”. We got one take and then wrapped.
It was a whirlwind first day for me and very exciting! I loved being on set. The adrenaline of it felt like performing in a show or competing and I was very much looking forward to doing it more… especially for my other acting scene in episode four.
Another highlight for me was getting to skate pairs with four different skaters as “Justin’s” double, including lifelong friend, and fellow Canadian pair skater Elizabeth Putnam. We had such an amazing time together and it was a joy to skate pairs again after so long.
The thing that struck me the most was how much problem-solving, and compromising takes place on a big set where a complex sport, like skating, is being portrayed. It is very difficult to do, and all of the cast and crew treated the need for realism with the utmost respect, integrity and patience. I had my own ideas of how I pictured it going, and, in many ways, it was quite different. I learned a lot from the whole process.
There are a lot of videos and photos of behind-the-scenes footage being posted on social media showing some of the incredible problem-solving which the directors and crew used to get the shots that they needed. From camera rigs that rolled along tracks on the ice to sliding apparatuses that Kaya and a camera would be fastened into while being pulled around the ice, at all times keeping a steady frame for the camera while giving the illusion that Kaya herself was performing some of the more complex choreography and movement while she was learning to skate. It was simply fascinating to watch!
The actors had varying levels of skating experience and ability and were pushed very hard, as were the skating doubles and stunt artists. I have immense respect for what they did to do the story justice.
I had an amazing time being part of the team that made this first season, from coaching, skating and acting to discussing the details about competitive pair skating jargon and situations. The show creator Samantha Straton (a former competitive singles skater herself), and the creative team utilized my experience in competitive pairs, and I was very honoured to have them bounce ideas off me.
I am eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to blend my worlds and be part of such a high quality production, right down to being on set with the incredible cast of actors – I learned so much and had a blast getting to know them, on and off set. They are true professionals and, much like athletes, show up to work and get their job done regardless of the situation.
I sincerely hope there is a Season 2, with or without me being involved, as this entire team deserves it plus there is more to this amazing story that needs to be told.
You can watch Season 1 of Spinning Out on Netflix!
What is it like competing at Worlds at home?
Wendy Griner Remembers
By Ann Shaw, Skate Canada Hall of Fame Member
Canadian Hall of Famer, Wendy Griner, competed at four Worlds, the first of which was in her home country when Canada hosted the Championships in Vancouver in 1960. She arrived there fresh from the Olympics in Squaw Valley where she had competed two weeks earlier.
Interestingly enough, although only 15 years of age back in 1960, she took Vancouver Worlds in her stride – so young, yet seemingly without nerves. Wendy confessed, “The importance of it never hit me.” Also having skated at high altitude in Squaw Valley, the whole team was in great shape skating at sea level.
Though from Toronto, Wendy had lived in Vancouver as a child so she felt very comfortable in that city. Some of her former pals came to see her skate at the event. In the dressing room, she also remembers being encouraged when a friendly fellow competitor, Olympic Champion Carol Heiss, asked Wendy which of two costumes she should wear for her Free Skate, an act which immediately put Wendy at ease. Wendy chose the black one, and was thrilled to know that was what Carol chose to wear!
TV coverage was just beginning in those days, so there was little pressure from that source, and the arena was not a large one. In all, her experience was comfortable and she was happy with moving up from her 10th place at Squaw Valley to 7th place in Vancouver.
In those days, skaters had few International events to give them exposure to judges, so perhaps, along with Wendy’s wonderful skating, the Olympics two weeks prior helped make her better known on the international scene. (Other than Olympics and Worlds, the only other international event available at the time was the North American Championship which was only held every other year – for American and Canadian competitors only!)
Although Wendy competed in 4 World Championships in all – Vancouver in 1960, Prague in 1962, 1963 in Cortina and 1964 in Dortmund, the one she remembers as being “pretty special” was Prague, Czechoslovakia. Had Worlds there not been postponed for a year due to the U.S. plane crash, they would have been held in a very old and tired arena, but with the year’s delay, a wonderful new, many-seated venue was ready and packed with spectators every day, even for the practices. The people under the yoke of communism were so thrilled to have this prestigious event in Prague, they showed their enthusiasm, even dropping presents off at the hotel for Wendy. At the age of 17, Wendy came second! Fellow Canadians and her good friends, the Jelinek’s and Don Jackson, won their world titles there.
Wendy’s two Olympic experiences contrasted significantly – Squaw Valley in 1960 and Innsbruck in 1964. Squaw Valley was small and intimate, the whole Canadian team numbering only 44 athletes (with 10 women), and an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. At 15, she was the youngest member on the team.
Wendy recalled being able to walk to all other venues and attend many events of other sports. The arena was open on one side and looked out on the speed skating oval and the ski jump. There was, however, little accommodation for spectators. Her mom had to bus in every day from a nearby town. Her dad’s company (Eaton’s), sent him on a buying trip to nearby San Francisco so he too could attend his daughter’s international debut.
On the other hand, Olympics in Innsbruck 4 years later was a much bigger deal. The Canadian team was much bigger and less connected, the Olympic Village larger, all events were further away and hard to reach, and there was minimal snow (a pall descended from the start when a skier died on a training run, at the time, an event with no safety fences). In short, everything was on a larger scale, and therefore felt very impersonal and not nearly as memorable. Unlike Squaw Valley, Wendy did not get to see one other event.
Thinking back to Squaw Valley once again, Wendy remembered nearly missing the start of her event!
In the Olympic Village, she roomed with an athlete from another sport who was off doing her thing the day the figures competition began. As it turned out, Wendy slept through her alarm. The team leader who also was her coach, Sheldon Galbraith, phoned her in a panic wondering why she was not there as she was skating her first figure right near the beginning of the event. She raced to the rink (exhausted from running at altitude), where Sheldon fed her an orange for her breakfast. Wendy remembered, “My first figure was shaky and all over the place,” but she eventually settled down and placed 12th, jumping to 7th in the Free, and placing a creditable 10th overall!
What other athlete can say their first international competitive experience just happened to be the Olympic Games?
Fast forward six decades … Wendy and her husband will be attending Worlds 2020 in Montreal as a celebrated Skate Canada alumnus. Sitting in the audience and watching events live will likely trigger many other wonderful skating memories.
Heather Kemkaran-Antymniuk Remembers
The conversation with Canadian Ladies Champion Heather Kemkaran-Antymniuk about her memories of skating in a World Championship at home took off in a multitude of directions
as she looked back on her days as a competitor for Canada and how skating has impacted her life today! She did skate at two World Championships – in Tokyo in 1977 and in Ottawa in 1978! But the story of her career in skating and today took many turns.
The theme of her reminiscences might best be described as “The Best of Both Worlds”
To get to that theme a little backtracking is required!
On Her Own at a Young Age
Heather began skating at the age of 3 in Winnipeg in 1961, but she moved from home at the young age of 12 (in 1971) to train at several centres of excellence! She first boarded with a family in Vancouver while training for several years with Helmut May.
Her mom (and sometimes her brother) would join her when they could, in the summer or for a visit, but through a large part of her skating career her father, a radiologist, remained working in Winnipeg. This solitary life was not an easy path for a young skater, but there were some compensations.
Denver, Colorado was her next stop in 1974 to train with the famous Carlo Fassi. She did not realize that she had to try out to be admitted to his school!
The family arrived there by car and she took to the ice. Although Heather had a double axel in her technical repertoire, she had never tried a triple, but Carlo encouraged her, and she was able to land a few. So, Carlo said, “You can stay,” and only then did she realize she was on trial! Incidentally, Carlo was amazed to hear that she was still skating novice and convinced her to go straight to seniors. Not many Canadian skaters (if any?) have skipped Juniors!!
Training in Denver was magical for her from a skating point of view. Dorothy Hamill and John Curry (later 1976 Olympic Champions) were training there and later were joined by Robin Cousins, Susanna Driano (an American skating for Italy) and other greats. She and a young Scotty Hamilton were the new kids on the block and were like sponges in that elite environment. (They are still great friends today).
One day John Curry said to Heather, “All you do is jump – you have to do other things,” and he would take her aside and help her with “other things” in a way no-one else but the artistic and accomplished John Curry could.
Being on her own was not always easy but Heather persevered. Since she could not get Canadian credits at US Schools, she was taking her schooling by correspondence.
Heather would see her mom and brother occasionally. She saw her father less frequently but in those days before emails and texts they kept up a correspondence by post. She recently found those letters and treasures them: her father’s encouraging words and his belief in her inspired her to persevere, stick it out, and strive to reach her full potential. By mail he remained an important force in her life.
Heather’s first international was Vienna in 1975 and Dorothy Hamill (who had the weight of U.S. expectations on her shoulders by then) took the time to take Heather aside to tell her that electrical voltage was different in Europe and said, “Would you like to take my European hair dryer with you?” Heather won that event. At Richmond in England in the next skating season, seven other women whom Carlo also trained were competing with her so Heather felt comfortable and really gained confidence. At Canadians that year she won the silver behind Lynn Nightingale when she and Lynn made the 1977 World Team in Tokyo – Heather coming 13th.
By that time, Heather was also working with Ellen Burka in Toronto commuting back and forth between there and Denver. She credits Ellen and Toller Cranston with inspiring her more artistic side when late at night at the Toronto Cricket SCC, they would turn the music on and just have her “do what she felt”, whereas Carlo gave her confidence in her figures and the technical aspects of her skating.
Another wonderful thing happened late in 1975. As she got off a flight from Denver to Toronto, she was met by both of her parents and her brother. They announced they would all be living in Toronto. Her days of being on her own and seeing her dad infrequently were over!!
Worlds at Home and the End of Competing
By the time Heather skated in Worlds in Ottawa in 1978, she was a fairly seasoned “veteran” and had gained confidence by becoming Canadian Senior Ladies Champion that year. She did not remark on skating Worlds in her home country as being significantly different from her other events abroad.
She switched to Louis Stong for the 1978 -79 season coming second at Canadians to Janet Morrissey and did make the world team that year. She loved working with Louis, and they are still great friends.
She then went back to Ellen for the 1979-1980 season which was to be her last year competing.
For consistency, she did not train with Carlo as well that season. She regained her Canadian Championship title, competed in Olympics in Lake Placid, but was not named to the world team that year, as an up-and-coming Tracey Wainman was selected instead. So – Olympics was her last competitive event.
Dealing with a Life of Not Competing
She found facing life without competing very hard for a time – describing herself as “a lost soul”.
Heather knew her future was to go on with her academics, although she skated in some Pro-Am events on weekends. She had by now finished her grade 13 (still by correspondence) and entered the University of Guelph planning to be a veterinarian but then switched to the study of law, realizing she, unlike her physician father and brother, wanted the social contacts of working with clients.
Only years later when talking to someone from the Olympic Association, did she realize she was not alone in finding the transition to the non-competitive world a hard one. In those days there was nothing in place to help retiring athletes and many were having a tough time adjusting. “Going from a world where you are really good to a world where you are not so accepted,” she says is hard for all former elite athletes.
In addition, having not been chosen for the World Team in 1980 was hard on her at the time but she considers that “water under the bridge” – although people still hesitate to raise that topic feeling it might be too sensitive (as it once was). She and Tracey Wainman are friends – after all, neither had anything to do with the controversial decision.
The “Best of Both Worlds”
Now in retrospect she feels she had “the best of both worlds”.
She has come to realize she was, in her words, “not a bad skater” (even though for a time after 1980 she doubted that) , and the dedication and commitment required of her competitive life and being on her own with the support of her parents from afar provided a “yes you can” attitude. She faced difficulties – she called on her strengths to do well in her sport – that has served her well in life – she has taken lessons from that in difficult times.
Away from skating, she has a successful career as a lawyer, a successful marriage, two wonderful daughters, and has just come back into the fold of the skating world as a keen member of the alumni program. With the encouragement of Celina Stipanic, Skate Canada Alumni & Fund Development Manager, she has been attending Skate Canada and Canadian Championship events. She finds it wonderful to be meeting with all her skating friends again. She is serving on two Skate Canada Committees – the Alumni Committee and the Hall of Fame and Heritage Committee – thereby giving back to the skating community.
What could be better than that?
Worlds Rewind: Montreal 1932
As the countdown begins to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec, we look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. We begin the ten-part series with the 1932 world championships – also in Montreal.
Montreal, the wait is over.
Eighty-eight years after hosting the inaugural world figure skating championships on Canadian soil back in 1932, the historic city will once again welcome the world for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 March 16th to 22nd at the Centre Bell.
The top men’s, ladies’ and pairs skaters in the world made the trip to Canada for the world championships from February 17-20, 1932, with figures being held at the Montreal Winter Club and free skating taking place at the iconic Forum.
The 1932 world championships came on the heels of the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, NY, and many of the athletes that competed at the Olympics boarded trains for the short ride north to Montreal. It turned out to be a worthwhile trip for Olympic gold medallists from Lake Placid – all would win gold again at the world championships.
In the men’s competition, Austria’s Karl Schäfer earned first-place votes from all judges in figures and free skating, cruising to his third of seven consecutive world titles. Toronto’s Montgomery Wilson earned Canada’s first men’s world championship medal with a silver, also a unanimous decision from all judges. Ernst Baier of Germany claimed bronze.
The 1932 world championships also marked the first time Japanese skaters competed in the event, with Kazuyoshi Oimatsu placing seventh and Ryoichi Obitani finishing eighth.
Norway’s Sonja Henie continued her domination of the ladies’ discipline in Montreal, winning her sixth of ten straight world titles. Fritzi Burger of Austria took silver and Canada’s Constance Wilson-Samuel from Toronto, the sister of Montgomery Wilson, won bronze.
Just days after winning gold at the Lake Placid Olympics, the husband/wife team of Andrée Brunet and Pierre Brunet from France won pairs gold in Montreal, finishing ahead of Hungary’s Emília Rotter and László Szollás and Americans Beatrix Loughran and Sherwin Badger.
The Canadian sibling tandem of Wilson-Samuel and Wilson, who won medals for Canada in the men’s and ladies’ events, teamed up in the pairs event to place sixth.
As the 1932 world championships came to a close in Montreal, the event would not return to Canada for close to three decades, when Vancouver hosted worlds in 1960. Canada has hosted the world championships ten times, the last time in 2013 in London, Ontario.
And next March, Montreal will welcome the world again.
On Sunday, January 19, Skate Canada celebrated the induction of two new members into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Olympian and six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson and renowned figure skating journalist Steve Milton were both recognized among family, friends, alumni and Hall of Fame members at the Alumni & Friends Brunch and the official induction ceremony took place before the exhibition gala.
Jennifer Robinson, of Goderich, Ontario, is an Olympian and six-time Canadian champion. In a senior career that spanned 10 seasons, she competed at eight ISU World Figure Skating Championships where she earned three top-10 finishes. Robinson never missed the Canadian podium (six gold, one silver, three bronze), and internationally won bronze at Skate Canada International, counted multiple top-five finishes and placed seventh at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. She has also given a tremendous amount of time to World Vision, supporting communities in need and inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.
Steve Milton, of Toronto, Ontario, is a journalist who has been covering the sport of figure skating for over 35 years through print, radio and digital media. Milton has covered nine Olympic Games, over 20 ISU World Figure Skating Championships and countless Canadian championships. He has authored 13 books on figure skating, and is a great source of knowledge on everything in the sport from historical facts to judging system information.
Skate Canada is proud to celebrate the achievements of the skating community through the inductions of exceptional members into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.
The Evolution of the David Dore Mentorship Fund
By Paul Dore
It’s a habit of mine to look for patterns and understand through-lines. I like to believe there is an evolutionary continuum. There is an element of comfort to seeing how things evolve and go from generation to generation. History builds upon itself in incremental, and sometimes seemingly invisible steps. I’d like to take a moment and look at three continuum’s: from an organizational standpoint, a community aspect, and a personal perspective.
As we look to the future of the upcoming World Championships in Montreal, it’s worth looking to the past. Almost twenty years ago, Vancouver hosted the World Championships, and the international skating community had never seen anything like it.
The Director General at the time, my father David Dore, had previously overseen World Championships in Canada. However, when approaching Vancouver, my father and his team not only had the goal to put on the best-organized event, they wanted to give people an experience.
Canada always had a presence on the world stage. In Vancouver, my dad wanted to not only showcase where skating was at the time but the possibilities of where it could go in the future. And we are now in the future. I think you could say it was prescient. There were 220,000 people in attendance, and $600,000 made from the event were distributed to British Columbia skating clubs as a legacy. There were also an additional 35,000 visitors to the innovative SkateFest, which was held in the adjacent plaza. SkateFest was an immersive and interactive exhibition well before any social media existed.
This event in Vancouver was such an achievement for my dad that he retired from Skate Canada a year later. Anyone that knew my dad was not surprised when he not only kept involved with figure skating but went on to become the Vice President of the International Skating Union. Even with the worldwide focus of his work after retirement, my father was always at his happiest when watching a skating competition in his home country of Canada.
That is one of the reasons we established The David Dore Mentorship Fund – to help foster continuing success in Canadian skating. The Fund provides an opportunity for a Skate Canada skater, coach, official, or volunteer to develop leadership skills with the goal of enhancing the organization’s leadership depth.
Being part of the David Dore Mentorship Program for a few years now, I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to a cross-section of people working in local skating collectives across the country. From judges to administrators to community organizers, I am continually impressed and encouraged by all the applicants and recipients. They are interested in new experiences and learning opportunities to better equip themselves and to grow the community around them.
As Val Masek, 2018 David Dore Mentorship Fund recipient said, “It is not all about skating. We feel skating makes us better citizens and appreciative of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. I see my work as a piece of a larger continuum guided by Mr. Dore’s principles of strong fundamentals and the importance of community service.”
After four Mentorship Program Fund recipients, I think my dad would be happy with the results. Four people from four corners of the country all working in different ways towards the common goal of improving the skating lives of those around them.
Returning to those Worlds in Vancouver, I hope that my father took a moment or two for himself to think about just how far he had come. A highpoint of his skating career was making it to Nationals. This idea of through-lines and historical patterns have been on my mind lately because my father’s grandson, and my nephew Joshua, who just competed in his first National Championships in Mississauga. We are officially three generations of figure skaters.
Although I never got there during my skating career, I did make it to the Olympics in Sochi when working as a director for the Olympic Broadcasting Service. My father always offered his guidance and he helped navigate me through my first time at an Olympic Games. From how to pack for a month to the nuances of new ice dancing rules to understanding the immensity of participating in such an enormous event. He had attended many Olympic Games, and he had so much knowledge and experience. It was very important for me to listen to what he wanted to pass along.
My father would have been very excited to see the World Championships return to Canada. He always had an eye on the future and would have been thrilled to see how the Mentorship Fund recipients use their new-found knowledge and experience. I also know that my father would be extremely proud of Joshua, and would have wanted nothing more than to sit in those stands watching and cheering on the next generation – both on the ice and through the fund recipients – who continue to push the sport forward.
To learn more about the David Dore Mentorship Fund and the Program, watch this video of past recipients expressing their experience at previous Skate Canada Ice Summits. If you are one of those leaders, further information and the application can be found at the below link. APPLY TODAY!
Didn’t buy an alumni event package to the 2020 World Championship, BUT want to partake in the Alumni Social and/or the Alumni & Friends Brunch…
We’d love to hear from you! Today staying in touch is easier than ever!
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]