All champions contribute to the sport of figure skating, but only a few change the sport in significant ways. In this edition of the Alumni podcast, our greatest champion, Don Jackson describes his skating life before, during and after his historic triple Lutz back in 1962. From recognition at international skating hot spots… to the local arena… Don’s life has been dedicated to skating and to the people who have supported him in his quest to be the best at every level of involvement. Enjoy listening to Don as he and Debbi Wilkes share some outstanding memories.
Through tough times, the figure skating community stands strong
By Debbi Wilkes, Olympic Medallist and Skate Canada Alumni Chair
By the time this edition of the Skate Canada Alumni Blog is published, my hope is that our fears around COVID-19 (formerly known as coronavirus) and its spread will have calmed so that things are moving back to normal, although I wonder if the world will ever be the same.
This morning, I’m sitting at my breakfast table looking out at a world stunned by this pandemic and by all the necessary steps being taken to help us stay safe and healthy.
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.
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.
This month, Debbi Wilkes visits with a champion, coach, choreographer and visionary, who many claim is the originator and architect for Canada’s worldwide reputation as a leader in choreography and artistic expression. Sandra Bezic began her love for the sport at her local rink learning to skate alongside her brother Val Bezic… the start of what would eventually become a Hall of Fame career which takes her around the world designing programs, shows and concepts that have changed the face of skating.
The decision to retire from competition will be the toughest decision an athlete will have to make in their career. For me, that meant walking away from 16 years of hard work and dedication, thousands upon thousands of dollars spent, and countless hours day in and day out at the rink grinding away towards my ultimate dream; The Olympics. But ultimately for most, including myself, the dream of competing at the Olympic Games and walking in the opening ceremonies with an entire nation rallying behind you will remain just that, a dream.
Competitor, coach and Alumni Committee member Nic Young chats with world-renowned pair coach Richard Gautier. Together they explore Richard’s skating career and what attracted him to coaching, in particular, pair skating. You will discover that Richard’s success in skating is based on more than what appears at the rink. To explore his coaching philosophy, enjoy listening to Richard’s passion about being one of the world’s best.
Retired official Jean Senft has been front and centre in the sport with a judging career which spanned events at her local club all the way to the Olympic Games. Her daughter, Lauren, a competitive international level ice dancer, retired and now a technical specialist, leads the chat where they both share memories about their skating adventures and discuss the special bond they share as a result.
Welcome to the Alumni podcast, this month featuring Part 2 and the continuation of last month’s conversation with Olympic Coach Bruno Marcotte as he chats with former national team member Nic Young. The two reflect on family, the future of skating, the positive impact of sport and how it has impacted their lives. Powerful, insightful and inspiring!
This month’s podcast, we welcome two celebrated Alumni (in a two-part interview). In the driver’s seat and host this month is Nic Young, a former national team member, and his guest, national, international and Olympic coach, Bruno Marcotte. With Nic having transitioned into coaching, the two chat about skating, their history and careers… and their competitive drive to motivate their athletes and in the process to advance the sport of figure skating.
On this month’s alumni podcast, let’s welcome former national team member Norm Proft as he introduces, visits, laughs and reminisces with his former coaches, Olympic and World coaches Jan and Cynthia Ullmark. It’s an in-depth conversation with two of Canada’s most historic and celebrated coaches as they tell their stories and share their philosophies.
Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice are Canadian pair skaters who also competed in the fours discipline. They are two-time (1993, 1995) Canadian pairs bronze medallist and four-time (1993–1996) Canadian fours champions. Find out what they had to say when asked about sharing their memories, achievements, personal interests and where they are now!
Last month we had the opportunity to listen in on the conversation between Skate Canada’s past President, Benoît Lavoie, and Olympic silver medallist Debbi Wilkes as they discussed Benoît’s early years in skating. This month it’s part two of the conversation when Benoît talks frankly about skating, its joys and its challenges and his role on the ISU Council.
A Magical Moment for a Canadian Ice Dance Couple – Joni Graham & Don Phillips
by Barry Soper
In just year six of its relatively new, ‘virtual’ existence, the Skate Canada BC/YK Section chose to induct into its Hall of Fame two accomplished Canadian Ice Dancers in the Athlete category, namely British Columbia’s Joni Graham & Don Phillips – Canada’s Ice Dance Champions in 1967 & 1968.
Of all the individuals who have contributed to skating in Canada and around the world, few have the incredible experience of Benoît Lavoie. His skating career began as a competitor but it was his commitment as a volunteer which gave him the greatest satisfaction. National, international and Olympic judge, past President of Skate Canada and now a Council member of the International Skating Union, Benoît shares his adventures with Alumni Chair Debbi Wilkes in this first edition of a two-part conversation.
Today’s goals for competitors are the same as ours were back in the 60’s … to become the best skater/performer you could be. While the landscape may have changed dramatically since then with technology advances and increased support, many of life’s best lessons remain the same thanks to the legacies built by so many skating pioneers.