Featuring Elizabeth Manley
Canada’s 1988 Olympic sweetheart, Elizabeth Manley, has turned her silver medal into an outstanding career both on and off the ice. Strong, talented and determined, she is taking another exciting step into the future by applying everything she’s learned from sport and from her battles with depression to carve out a new niche for herself, this time as a “Life Coach”.
It may be more than 30 years since Liz’s thrilling silver medal win at the Calgary Games, however her enthusiasm, work ethic and authenticity are as powerful as ever. With so much experience, ups and downs, and her willingness to share those lessons, this new direction will no doubt prove to be some of Liz’s most important contributions to skating.
Join Liz along with Alumni Chair Debbi Wilkes as they discuss this inspiring journey.
Life after my figure skating career
by Amelia Lacoste, Canadian Champion
After announcing my retirement from amateur skating in 2014, I wanted to remain in figure skating. I had been teaching part-time for a few years, but doing so on a full-time basis wasn’t an option at the time.
I still had other dreams, including participation in figure skating shows on cruise ships. At the time, I contacted a friend of mine, Marc-Olivier Bossé, who was performing at the time on a Royal Caribbean ship. Acting on his advice, I got in touch with the director of Willy Bietak Productions, who immediately offered me a contract on the Liberty of the Seas.
I had the pleasure of practicing my craft while travelling and discovering new destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Oceania. I have crossed both the Pacific and the Atlantic. I landed three dream contracts, which gave me an opportunity to broaden my horizons and meet some great people.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury in 2016 forced me to take up a new lifestyle. I had to return home for care. Nonetheless, this life experience was most rewarding, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any skater stepping away from competition who would like to remain active in the sport.
I then began the next phase in my life, which saw me return to school. In spite of a few obstacles and uncertainties, I managed to earn a certificate in professional make-up and returned briefly to university. I reoriented my career and got into acupuncture. I am enrolled in acupuncture technique at Rosemont College and will graduate in May 2022.
Since returning home, I regained the urge to teach skating and joined up with a coach by the name of Van Truong. We make a great team. Teaching skating is my way of giving back to society and sharing both my passion and values with young people. It is truly rewarding to see these skaters make progress day after day!
My career as a skater and as a coach has taught me all about resilience, perseverance and stress management.
Though times are difficult and fraught with uncertainty, we have to remain united and hold out hope. We must be patient and confident about what life has to offer. We will emerge from the experience stronger and in better shape.
The winding path from the club to the international scene
By Nicole Roch
The news came down. I read on my Facebook page that Skate Canada’s 2021 Synchronized Skating Championships that were to take place in Sherbrooke right next door had been cancelled. This followed on the heels of another disappointment when the World Championships set for Montreal just down the road were also cancelled. There’s no doubt about it – this invisible virus has inflicted tremendous damage in all spheres of society.
While reading this news, it dawned on me why synchronized skating was so important to me. From 1977 to 1982, I sat on the Board of the Boucherville FSC. At the time, it had many members, but no sooner had the female skaters passed their preliminary figures test that several of them would leave the club. Some got into ringuette in order to take part in a team sport.
What a coincidence! Skate Canada, once known as the CFSA, incorporated synchronized skating into its structure and its organization. The Board took that opportunity to recruit male and female skaters to form teams, and in short order, we put together three teams – one each at the novice, junior and senior levels. The coaches who choreographed the end-of-season show numbers were called upon to take part in this new adventure.
We were the pioneers of this magnificent discipline. I salute the ingenuity and creativity of the coaches who taught choreography in the gymnasium, because they did not have much ice time at their disposal at 6 or 7 am. Needless to say, minutes were at a premium and none could be wasted.
That was when I began to get interested in the technical side of skating. I learned all of the ins and outs of the discipline and later became an official, not knowing where this would take me.
Synchronized skating has grown incredibly. Everyone, from athletes to parents, coaches and officials, has developed a passion for this new skating discipline. At the start of each season, we officials were excited and eager to see the new programs and gain an appreciation for them. The coaches rivaled one another in terms of creativity, innovation and cutting-edge interpretations.
Synchronized skating enabled the athletes to travel from coast to coast, discover their country and broaden their horizons. Some got a taste of international skating with the French Cup in Rouen, the Spring Cup in Milan, and the Neuchâtel Trophy in Switzerland, to name just a few, as several countries currently organize events such as these.
Personally, I further honed my craft as a judge, as I gave training sessions and seminars and worked with coaches to improve the synchronized skating programs. It was a team effort which coaches and officials had a hand in.
My passion for synchronized skating that has always driven me reached its apex the day the International Skating Union named the first two Canadian judge/referees at the world level, and I was one of them. It was one of my moments of glory. I received the Elizabeth Swan Memorial Award and the Officials Award of Excellence. Skate Canada honoured me by making me an honourary official (judge). It’s quite an accomplishment I am most proud of, not to mention the fact it further promotes the synchronized skating family both nationally and internationally.
During the entire time I spent in this discipline, I have met marvellous people, particularly team managers, competition organizers, coaches, athletes and officials, who have left me with some excellent memories.
And what to make of this pandemic that rages on and on! Let’s be careful, resilient and patient!
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