Podcast: B. Marcotte | B. Boland Spotlight | My World Championships Experience | From the Archives | Lives Lived: Collins | Coaches Tribute | Virtue & Moir – Retire | Slipchuk: Lifetime Achievement Award | HOF Class of 2019 | Event Packages

Featuring Bruno Marcotte – Part 1

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.

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A THIRTY-NINE YEAR JOURNEY OF VOLUNTEERING

By Bill Boland                   

The year was 1979 in a small town on Lake Erie shore where our 7-year-old daughter was about to compete in her first competition, a Precision event. They finished last.

The arena was jammed to the rafters. You couldn’t get to the concession stand and I said, “That was it, never again!”

A couple of weeks later it was another small southwestern Ontario town, but seemingly less crowded. The enthusiasm and passion of the crowd was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was hooked! The medal the London Skating Pre Novice Team won that day was to be the first of many for the teams Traci skated on or coached in Canada, Finland and the United States. But that is her story to tell.

My life soon took a different path but one that was just as rewarding.

Maureen and I were never the type of parents to leave our daughters at a music lesson venue or at the arena unsupervised. Watching practices and test days I soon became a familiar face at the arenas and was asked in 1980 to join the Board of Directors at the London Skating Club. My reply, “What did I know about figure skating?”

What they wanted was my business experience as a CEO but I soon realized the Club was not only a business to operate but just as importantly a place to volunteer for fundraising at bingos, selling chocolate bars, most of which I bought and ate, working on test days, competitions, and bargaining for ice time from the municipality.

Bill Boland and Barbara Ann Scott

I have never underestimated the impact and value of those first eight years. Many of the Club volunteers remain our friends today. The Club became a part of our life and was the grounding needed to respect and admire all Club volunteers for their efforts and dedication to improve, not for the betterment or advancement of their own child, but for the benefit of their community and our sport. There was no greater satisfaction at the Club level than attaining an increase in registration, along with negotiating sufficient ice for the various Club programs, and having money in the bank at the end of the year.

And so it began in 1988, my election to the Western Ontario Section Board with experiences and friendships cherished to this day which I could never have imagined back on that February day in 1979 in Port Stanley.

For the next ten years the duties from novice section board member and eventually in 1998 to Section Chair became not a project but a passion and involved many jobs and bigger challenges but, more importantly, the most rewarding and satisfying accomplishments. So many memories of athletes, coaches, officials and Club executives, far too numerous to even begin to explain how each one impacted my journey.

Yes, there were difficult times, decisions and disappointments. However, being part of an organization based on volunteerism that assists everyone in so many ways, be it financial, opportunities, educational training or just plain moral support for those skaters and officials to achieve success from the Club, Region, National, International and Olympics were more than worth my treasure of time given to the sport as a volunteer.

If I may be permitted? Three, of so many Section memoires in no particular order: Jennifer Robinson’s total dedication and effort in Brandon, Manitoba determined to skate her long program in spite of a severe fever and temperature that the doctor, from the hospital she had been taken to during the night, had to accompany her rink side for her event; the dramatic rise and success of Tessa and Scott from the young novice dance team attending their first international Dance event in Austria to becoming the most decorated figure skaters in Canadian Olympic history; and finally, the very successful National program conducted at the Section level known as the Club Consultation Program was to my mind a most efficient, knowledge-based and club-rewarding program that was not only informative but enjoyable to deliver.

Bill Boland being awarded London’s 2014 Sportsperson of the Year!

Back in 1998 a Section Chair automatically became a member of the National Board of Directors as well as a member of the then Sections Committee. Then in 2001 I was first elected to the National Board of Directors serving in various capacities and on varying committees from finance, synchronized skating, and planning and eventually being appointed to the Executive Committee until my retirement from the Board.

These were times of relentless involvement focused and driven by a deep sense of fairness with a culture of, and the importance of, teamwork. I would be lying to tell you these days were all joyful. Some were very difficult indeed with tough decisions to be taken but it was in these times that, as a volunteer, I began to appreciate the support and capacity of a very hard working, dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate staff in Ottawa.

During these years we all enjoyed “A Golden Age of Figure Skating”. For myself personally? Two Canadian Championships, a World Synchronised Skating Championship, and the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships all in my home town of London, Ontario were the ultimate satisfaction in a long journey.  In the words of the late David Dore, ISU Vice President, “The many capable volunteers, and the many persons from the Skate Canada office whose efforts all contributed to the complete success of the recent 2013 World Championships made it virtually impossible to find fault with this event, whose positive reach was far and wide throughout the world”.

Today, it’s not quite time to fully retire, as in the last couple of years since my official Board retirement, I have had the pleasure of serving with the chair, Ann Shaw, on the Hall of Fame Committee along with some absolutely wonderful volunteers who possess such a wealth of skating history and hall of fame induction knowledge.

In closing, whether you serve as a volunteer at your local Club, Region, Section, or on the National Board, I can attest that the rewards and memories to cherish forever far exceed the time and commitment required to serve this Association. So to one and all, my wish to you as volunteers, at whatever level, is that your journey be as fulfilling as mine has been, and when asked to serve further, just do it, for life is a voyage best travelled with friends and cherished memories.

My World Championships Experience… from the other side

by Annie Bellemare

I competed in my first Nationals in 1995. It was my first televised event and my first taste of the “big rink”. I still remember seeing Elvis Stojko and was so amazed to be skating in the same event. I also remember the rink… it was impressive!

Although I was able to participate in many more competitions throughout my career, I never ceased to be amazed at the feeling you get when you first step into the arena at the beginning of the week. I saw the rink fully decorated, the bus routes working, and the accreditation volunteers happy and eager to help me. Everything was in place, everything was ready for me to be able to perform to the best of my abilities. I also remember clearly my first and only World Championships in Vancouver in 2001… the big rink, the bright lights, the crisp ice, the clean boards, the number of seats. It was impressive to say the least, but little did I understand the amount of work and effort that went into planning this one-week event.

Lucky for me, I moved on from competing into working for Skate Canada. As a skater, I had no idea the amount of work needed to plan for such an event. I got to learn it all, and to live through all my favorite events again, but this time through a different lens.

My “training” started with smaller events, Skate Canada International, Divisions, Canadians, all eventually leading up to 2013 when Canada hosted the World Championships again, this time in London, Ontario.

After putting the bid together and actually winning the opportunity to host the event, the first stage for Skate Canada’s preparations was to come up with a logo and a colour scheme. Being in the Marketing department, this was one of my first tasks. As fans and skaters, we often see logos and either like them or hate them but we probably don’t realise the amount of time that goes into designing the whole story of the event in one small insignia. I remember spending countless hours in meetings with different stakeholders trying to come up with what the “logo” should portray … “it should move”, “it needs to be youthful”, “it should be hip”, “it should appeal to a large audience”, “it should reflect strength, power, grace”. There were a lot of opinions which made it difficult to pinpoint the true essence of what the logo should be, but we got there (after many, many attempts).

Once we knew what we wanted the logo to say, we had to decide on a colour! One favorite part of this process was actually driving to the agency one day to see the colour on their screen because on my screen it was one shade of purple, on my co-worker’s screen it was a different shade of purple (which is quite normal), but in that moment, it wasn’t the perfect purple! We needed a third party computer to break the tie. After many attempts, we eventually landed (pun intended) on a purple that was just right!

Although these seem like mundane tasks and perhaps a bit of overkill, I learned every detail is important in the creative process. That logo represents the event… the design and colour scheme will be on everything! It will determine the signage look and feel; it will be on all of the ads, on TV, on the rinkboards, on documents (official or not) and even on email signatures. A bad logo and a bad colour scheme can even impact the sale of merchandise which in turn effects revenue for the event.

Coming up with a logo was a difficult task, but one I truly enjoyed! It was a challenge to try and display what so many were looking for in one little icon and rewarding when we started to see it take life on some of our material. I was so proud to see how it was applied to the many aspects of the event!

I still remember a pre-event volunteer meeting where the Director of Events at the time (Jackie Stell-Buckingham) said something that I will never forget. She said that our job as a hosting committee and as volunteers was to make sure that skaters had the perfect environment to be their best… that we should take all their worries away and try to provide them with the best experience possible.

Those words stuck with me. I applied them to my main goal to design a logo that would do just that! I know that to the skaters it was probably just a logo, but for me, it was the beginning of a feeling, the beginning of what the event would be like, and what the rink would feel like… to create the perfect environment to allow competitors to perform to the best of their abilities and, in turn, to make it an amazing and unforgettable World event for skaters and fans alike.

Toller Cranston’s “Magic Planet” was produced for television in 1983 by award-winning Director David Acamba and showcased some of the most breathtaking costumes ever designed by the renowned designer Frances Dafoe, herself a former World Pair Champion with Norris Bowden.

Below features choreographer and Skate Canada Hall of Fame member Sarah Kawahara as the Sorceress.

Thomas ‘Tommy’ Collins

Tom Collins, Figure Skating’ Impresario, Dies at Age 88.

from the StarTribune (published on September 3, 2019)

Former figure skater and founder of the Champions On Ice Tour, Thomas (Tommy) James Collins passed away at his home in Edina, MN, surrounded by his family on September 1, 2019 of natural causes.

Tom was born in 1931 to Thomas and Martha Collins in the small Canadian mining town of Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Collins worked in a bakery and left school in 8th grade to work with his father in the local gold mines. Like most Canadian boys at the time, he learned to ice skate, play hockey and later turned to figure skating where he found his passion. Tommy’s dreams reached beyond Kirkland Lake after he won the Northern Ontario Novice Men’s Championship. In 1949 at the age 18, Collins joined Holiday On Ice as a chorus skater. In his second year with the tour he became the headliner and ultimately vice president and general manager. He also appeared as a skater on Broadway with Sonja Henie and later toured with her in South America.

While skating with Holiday On Ice he met his wife Jane (Janie), a 1956 Miss America contestant competing as Miss Georgia and fellow worldwide ice skating performer.

Tom Collins moved to the business side of Holiday On Ice in 1969 where he worked with tour owner and brother-in-law Morris Chalfen of Minneapolis. This was the beginning of what would later be known as Champions on Ice. Taking a break from the administrative side of the ice shows, Collins branched out into the music industry with Bill Graham promoting the careers of rock ‘n roll singers of the day like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Alice Cooper, David Bowie and Earth Wind & Fire. Within a few years, promoting evolved into a merchandising business supplying programs, T-shirts and memorabilia for touring entertainers. His first client: Neil Diamond, was soon followed by John Denver, Bob Dylan, the Moody Blues, Wayne Newton, Rick James, Joni Mitchell and Earth Wind & Fire.

By 1975 under Collins’ ownership, Champions On Ice, featured Olympic amateur and professional skaters who entertained audiences with their medal-winning solos rather than the vaudeville acts on skates of previous ice shows. Each year’s tour program read like a Who’s Who of ice skating. Tom put the skaters first. He did not want them to worry about anything other than their performances so the tour became known in the skating world as “the best of the best.”

By the early 90’s, interest in figure skating began skyrocketing. By 2002, the tour included shows in 93 cities. Collins was not only known for his generosity to his skaters but also to the U.S. Figure Skating Association making him the largest single donor in figure skating history. He sold his show to AEG, the sports and entertainment giant, in 2006. He oversaw the tour until 2008 when he announced his retirement.

The tour had become his extended family but his own family was an integral part of the tour. Sons Mike, Mark and Marty, along with Tom’s brothers Butch and Harris were involved with tour operations.

Collins was the only person to be inducted into all 3 Figure Skating Halls of Fame – U.S., Canadian and World. The U.S. Figure Skating headquarters in Colorado Springs was renamed the Tom Collins Building in recognition of his support of the sport in 1999.

Tom shared his charisma with every person he met and treated everyone as if they were his close personal friend. Perhaps his greatest attribute was the love he had for his family. He would do anything for his family particularly his three sons. His love for life and playful spirit always came out when he was with his grandchildren. He played grape toss in the pool, hide and seek, took them to the movies and ice cream, attended each of their sporting events, school activities, and other performances. Holidays were particularly special, always over the top and filled with love. He never missed a chance to tell his family how much he loved them.

He is survived by three sons, all of Edina: Michael (Angie Bartness), Mark (Monica Elicerio), & Martin (Alissa); six grandchildren Lauren, Dylan, Brady, Reese, Austin & Georgia; three nephews Tom, Bruce & Gary and their families; and long-time devoted companion Teri Tucker. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife Janie; sister Martha (Marty) Chalfen, brothers Harris and Gerald (Butch).

~~~

Tom Collins is a member of the Skate Canada Hall of Fame since 2001 as a Builder.

This builder’s involvement in skating has spanned more than 50 years, from a Northern Ontario novice skating champion in the 1940’s, to his role as a visionary and promoter in the world of modern ice shows.

Joining Sonja Henie’s Hollywood Ice Revue in 1949, he moved over to Holiday on Ice in 1951, rising up through the ranks from skater to tour manager and then producer. Developing a skating tour to highlight the many talents of national and international skating stars, his ‘Tour of World Figure Skating Champions’ and ‘Champions on Ice’ provided a new concept in figure skating shows. With an emphasis on quality production and a high-level of skating talent, he launched the careers of hundreds of skating stars and promoted skating to millions of people.

Never forgetting who made these shows the success they were, his role as a benefactor has resulted in ongoing substantial financial contributions to the CFSA Athlete Trust.

TRIBUTE TO COACHES

The Selfless Role of a Figure Skating Coach: Acknowledging the People Who Inspire Skaters

by Barry Soper, National Ice Dance Competitor 1966-74 & Ice Dance Coach 1975-99

Brian Power

In the Alumni Blog of August 2019, we honoured the passing of an extremely talented figure skating coach and choreographer, Brian Power.  I was moved from reading the many tributes about Brian that flowed from the “Dedication to Brian” by now retired Skate Canada International Judge Audrey (Downie) Williams, Brian’s former pair skating partner from 1950-55 (1950 Canadian Junior Pair Champions).

Audrey Williams & Brian Power

These passionate tributes stirred in me the memory of the skating coaches my partner Louise (Lind) Soper and myself were blessed to have as dedicated and inspiring professionals, and then to reflect on and celebrate the impactful role of coaches in the lives of figure skaters in Canada.

I have no doubt that many of you reading this can remember the coaches who poured their hearts and souls into guiding and encouraging you to pursue your skating gifts. My conclusion? How fortunate was I to have this dedicated person take their time with me!  And what a significant role they played in the development of my eventual skating successes and the life lessons gained as a result!

While coaches vary in their level of expertise and commitment, of course, this tribute is dedicated to Canada’s vast array of coaches who dedicate themselves to giving all they have to encourage, instruct, and guide their often challenging proteges to discover their gifts and develop skills the skaters often wondered if they’d ever master.  For those of you who have not only pursued your skating talents, but also coached, you know about the range of emotions, from exasperation to jubilation, during this very steep learning curve for your students, never mind the task of managing all the other distractions which can intrude into the skaters’ lives and impede their progress.

Carol Grant

While searching for information and photos about Brian Power, it seemed providential that Louise and I attended a very recent skaters’ reunion organized and hosted by former competitive men’s skater Ron Unrau, 1978 Canadian Novice Men’s Champion, in early August this summer.  At this very fun party, including watching Vancouver’s summer fireworks display from the home’s lofty perch, we got to reminisce with about 50 former skaters. Guests included the daughter (Kathryn) of not-long-ago (2015) deceased coach Carol Grant, one of Brian’s very good coaching friends and someone who helped facilitate Brian coaching at all three of North Vancouver’s private skating clubs: Capilano Winter Club, North Shore Winter Club, and Hollyburn Country Club.

Ron Unrau

This experience came after his coaching stint with fellow coaches Jack Boyle and Carol at Vancouver Skating Club.

While Brian went on to coach and choreograph many programs for BC skaters, the word soon got out about Brian’s capabilities.  My own personal highlight from Brian’s repertoire was to Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ for BC’s Karel Latham, (1971 Canadian Junior Ladies Champion).  I have no doubt that most of you can think back to special times in skating when you felt that the sport was being advanced by what had been created!Kathy’s memories of Brian’s influence also include his ‘off-ice’ prowess and creativity.  To quote Kathy, “Having studied Dance in New York at Jacob’s Pillow and Martha Graham’s School of Contemporary Dance, Brian’s choreography always included that spark of brilliance no matter what level the skater. Floor classes at summer school were full and Brian’s relaxation technique is a lifelong practice for many.”

1995 Retirement Party for Carol Grant; here with longtime friend & coach Linda Brauckmann.

Circling back to the recent skating reunion, enclosed are some memorabilia from Kathy Grant’s collection featuring Brian, including the wonderful photo of him with pair skating partner Audrey (Downie) Williams. I’ve included that photo again (in case any of you missed it), and some of the coaches with whom Brian worked alongside. Another of his colleagues at North Shore Winter Club was Linda Brauckmann, who coached Karen Magnussen to her World Ladies Figure Skating Championship gold medal in 1973.

But I digress. My recollections are not only about competition.

Alex Fulton

Many skaters’ fondest memories are tied to the wonderful skating carnival productions that so many of us got to experience as we were learning how to figure skate.  What a challenge it must have been for coaches to work together to produce these (often) memorable spectacles, yet what a treat it was for us skaters to express the fun side of skating!  I would be remiss in not celebrating the coach who started me and Louise and our partnership, Capilano Winter Club’s Alex Fulton, as well as Robin & Heather Jones who guided us when entering the international scene.  We’re forever grateful for their collective commitment!

Before closing this toast to Brian and to his fellow dedicated coaches – both those who have now passed on, but also those who today still ply their passion daily – I’d like to encourage us all to seize the opportunity to ‘lift up’ our coaches whenever the opportunity arises to celebrate their passion and commitment, past and present, for encouraging their skaters and for advancing our sport.

Three-time Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Retire from Competitive Skating

The worlds most decorated figure skaters, Tessa Virtue, 30, London, Ont., and Scott Moir, 31, Ilderton, Ont., announced their retirement from competitive figure skating today. During their 22-year career they won five Olympic medals, three world championship titles and eight national titles.

Virtue and Moir have dominated the ice dance field during both their junior and senior careers. They are the first and only ice dance team to win every major junior and senior skating competition: junior world championships (2006), junior grand prix final (2006), four continents championships (2018, 2012, 2017), senior world championships (2010, 2012, 2017), senior grand prix final (2016) and Olympic Games (2010, 2018). They have won a total of 55 international medals during their 20-year partnership, with 33 of them being gold.

Tessa and Scott have had an extraordinary career as the most decorated figure skaters of all time. Skate Canada has been fortunate to be able to be part of their remarkable career. Their partnership has inspired fans around the world with their skating skills and their passionate performances.” said Debra Armstrong, CEO, Skate Canada. “Skate Canada thanks Tessa and Scott for their vast contribution to skating and wish them the very best with their future plans.”

Over their career they competed at three consecutive Olympic Winter Games (2010, 2014, 2018), winning a total five medals. Virtue and Moir made their Olympic debut in 2010 at the Vancouver Games, they won gold in ice dance, making history as the first North American team to win the title and the youngest ice dance team to ever win gold at the Olympic Games. At their second Olympic Games in 2014 in Sochi, they picked up two silver medals in the ice dance discipline and in the team event. In 2018 they topped off their career at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang winning gold in ice dance and in the team event. They were also the Canadian flag bearers for the 2018 Winter Olympics, becoming the first team to carry the Canadian flag at an Olympic opening ceremony.

“Tessa and Scott are the most innovative ice dance team of all time. Throughout their career they have always pushed the ice dance envelope by bringing different genres to life with technical precision and performance perfection,” said Mike Slipchuk, Director High Performance, Skate Canada. “What makes them so special is they are champions on and off the ice. They are great athletes but also great leaders and people. We thank them for bringing us along on their incredible journey.”

Off the ice, Virtue and Moir have also picked up several honours. After the 2018 Olympic Games, they were awarded the Canadian Press Team of the Year, Postmedia Team of the Year and CBC Sports Canadian Athletes of the Year. Also, in 2018 they were inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in the sports and athletics category.

Virtue and Moir are currently producing their own skating show, Rock the Rink. This fall the skating tour will visit 30 cities across Canada and the U.S.

AthletesCan announces that the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Sport goes to our very own alumni, Michael Slipchuk for his outstanding contributions to Skate Canada!

Michael Slipchuk honoured for his role in Canada’s ‘golden age’ of figure skating.

Skate Canada high-performance director wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Scott Russell · CBC Sports · 
In this 2012 file photo, Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan, right, chats with Mike Slipchuk, centre, during a practice session at the national figure skating championships in Moncton, N.B. (File/The Canadian Press)

When it comes to sport and depth of talent spanning the many seasons, Canada continues to punch well above its weight.

The territory is huge, the climate can be harsh, and the population is relatively small. Still, in summer and winter, and in a diversity of athletic endeavour, this country produces a myriad of champions on and off the fields of play.

Canadians are major international players who not only claim titles and medals but also continue to lead the way towards an acceptance of sport which is more inclusive, accessible, safe and fair.

This year’s recipients of the Canadian Sport Awards (listed below), sponsored by the advocacy group AthletesCAN, are proof positive that the country can boast an unrivalled roster of achievers across the board.

They comprise an eclectic group of winners at the highest level from the snow sports, beach volleyball, wheelchair basketball, tennis, track and field, soccer and bobsleigh. But there are also influencers who break down barriers for indigenous Canadians, corporate citizens who provide opportunities for ambitious Olympians and socially conscious athletes who raise awareness of the necessity for sport to be conducted with integrity.

There are also leaders who work behind the scenes to produce champions in sports which have long been considered treasured elements of the Canadian folklore.

The golden age of Canadian figure skating

The example is the winner of the 2019 Leadership in Sport award, former national champion figure skater Michael Slipchuk, who has served as Skate Canada’s High Performance Director since 2007. In his dozen years at the helm of ice competition, Slipchuk has presided over what might be called the golden age of Canadian figure skating.

Slipchuk, a Canadian champion in 1992, and an Olympian at Albertville, France the same season, has embraced an environment which has witnessed skating legends of the past turning their attention to producing the next wave of outstanding performers.

During Slipchuk’s tenure, Canadian figure skaters have won 25 medals at the senior world championships and recorded nine podium results at the Olympics. Included are 10 world titles and three Olympic championships. The topper, Slipchuk believes, is a gold medal in figure skating’s team event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games in 2018 which is reflective of an overarching Canadian approach to the sporting experience.

“It should be seen as a privilege to compete for your country,” he says.

“I think the passion is there for skating in this country. It will always be there. Our champions are great people and humble people. The fans of skating continue to relate to that. Being a strong team is what it’s all about and we wanted to build a team environment, first and foremost.”

‘All in it together’

In the past 12 years, Slipchuk has witnessed a Canadian world champion ascending the podium in each of figure skating’s five disciplines, including synchronized skating.

No other country can boast that accomplishment, including the sport’s acknowledged superpower — Russia.

“They were the best skating group in the world,” Slipchuk beams. “During those years we had an older team. We had peaks and valleys but they were all in it together as a team. The team gold in Pyeongchang will always be very special to me.”

As an early proponent of figure skating’s revamped judging system and as an international, technical specialist, Slipchuk has also modernized the Canadian figure skating landscape by fostering a more complete approach to a demanding and skilled sport.

Under his watchful eye, there is more comprehensive support available to elite skaters who need the benefits of sport psychologists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning experts, and physical therapists.

“With Own the Podium there was an onus on us to create a sports science community,” Slipchuk explains. “We’ve worked hard to build a network of sports science which our athletes can access. In the time before it was up to each athlete and coach to work it out. Now we’ve created a network they can all tap into.”

Rebuilding phase underway

As it is with all leaders in sport, sustaining success is a tricky thing to do. With the retirement from international competition of superstar champions like Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, Kaetlyn Osmond, Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford and Patrick Chan, Canadian figure skating faces an inevitable makeover.

“We’re in a big rebuilding phase,” Slipchuk acknowledges. “It’s going to be very tough because the level of international skating rises all the time.  You can come up so fast now.  It’s a daunting prospect but it’s also very exciting.”

Still, the commitment to excellence remains. As someone who seeks to maximize performance, Michael Slipchuk isn’t ready to rest on his laurels.

He’s in for the long haul.

“I recognized pretty early on that figure skating is my life,” he says.

“This is what I know the most about and most importantly, this is what I love.”

Like all those being celebrated at this year’s Canadian Sport Awards, Michael Slipchuk is a leader who shares a common character trait. He has an overriding passion for the games we play as a nation and, more importantly, how we play them.

Canadian Sport Award Winners 2019

Summer Sport Performance

Female Athlete of the Year: Bianca Andreescu – Tennis

Male Athlete of the Year: Aaron Brown – Athletics

Team of the Year: Beach Volleyball – Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes

Winter Sport Performance

Female Athlete of the Year: Marielle Thompson – Ski Cross

Male Athlete of the Year: Mikael Kingsbury – Freestyle Skiing Moguls

Team of the Year: Four-man Bobsleigh – Justin Kripps, Cam Stones, Ben Coakwell, Ryan Sommer

Influencers

Bruce Kidd Athlete Leadership Award: Stephanie Dixon – Paralympics

AthletesCAN Social Responsibility Award: Evan Dunfee – Athletics

Leadership in Sport Award: Michael Slipchuk – Skate Canada

True Sport Award: Christine Sinclair – Soccer

Inclusion Award – Obliterating Barriers in Sport: Michael Linklater – 3 on 3 Basketball

#AthleteVoice Award – Representative of the Year: Beckie Scott – WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)

People’s Choice Award – Performance of the Year: Bianca Andreescu – Tennis

Corporate Excellence – National Initiative Support: RBC Training Ground

Skate Canada announces Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Skate Canada is pleased to announce four new members into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. The class of 2019 includes athlete Veronica Clarke, and in the professional disciplines, coach Lee Barkell, choreographer David Wilson, and builder Audrey Williams.

Veronica Clarke, of Toronto, Ont., was a skating pioneer in women’s singles, pairs, dance and fours. Clarke competed from 1928 to 1938, winning 20 Canadian medals—10 of which were gold—as well as three international medals. With her pair partner Ralph McCreath, Clarke won the 1937 North American Championships, three Canadian Figure Skating Championships and along with McCreath, Constance Wilson-Samuel, and Montgomery Wilson, fours medallists in the 1938 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Clarke is being honoured posthumously.

Lee Barkell, of Kirkland Lake, Ont., enters the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a professional. Barkell has been a leading singles and pairs coach since his retirement from competition as a pair skater with his wife Melanie Gaylor. During Barkell’s skating career with Gaylor, the pair team won three international competitions. Over the course of his 27-year coaching career, Barkell has coached an extensive list of skaters, including world champion and Olympic medallist Jeffrey Buttle, Olympian and world medallist Gabrielle Daleman, and two-time national champions Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier, and Canadian pair champions Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay.

David Wilson, a former figure skater born in Toronto, Ont., has worked as a master choreographer for more than 20 years. Wilson’s choreography expertise begins from crafting a program, to searching for music, to the end product of seeing a skater perform. He has produced numerous artistic programmes for Olympic, world & national medallists including singles skaters Sasha Cohen, Jeffrey Buttle, Yu-Na Kim, Patrick Chan, Yuzuru Hanyu, Joannie Rochette, ice dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Audrey Williams, from Vancouver, B.C., has served as an official for more than 50 years, first being appointed as a national judge in 1959 and later as a judge for the ISU in 1967. Williams is a role model as a judge, referee, and team leader, especially mentoring pair judges in Canada. She was a team leader at both junior and senior worlds, as well as at the Olympics in 1972. She has sat on several Skate Canada committees over many years. She judged six world championships, four junior worlds and the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer. As a skater, she was a four-time Canadian Figure Skating Championship medallist with pair partner Brian Power. Most recently, she was inducted into the British Columbia Hall of Fame as a Builder in 2011.

Skate Canada is proud to celebrate the achievements of the skating community through the inductions of exceptional members in the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. The exact date and locations of the various inductions will be announced as they become available.

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ACT NOW!  Deadline extended until January 27, 2020!

      CSTIPANIC@SKATECANADA.CA  

Limited quantities.  Offers expires January 27, 2020.

“Inspiring all Canadians to embrace the joy of skating.”

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 cstipanic@skatecanada.ca

Podcast: Ullmark’s | Higgins & Rice Spotlight | Her Majesty by D. Jackson | Lives Lived: Brian Power | From the Archives | Alumni Event Packages

Jan and Cynthia Ullmark

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.

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Jodeyne Higgins & Sean Rice

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!

 

Fondest Canadian National, International or Olympic skating memory.

Our fondest skating memory would have to be our first Senior Nationals in Hamilton at Copps Coliseum in 1993. We were 4th after the short program and were waiting for the final flight to take the ice for warm up.

They were waiting for live tv time to begin and Wilf Langevin, the announcer for the event, had the crowd of 17,000 people on their feet cheering and doing the wave. To take the ice for warm up not only with the company we shared but also with that amount of energy in the air was an incredible moment to remember.  It was so inspiring.

We skated a clean long program and finished third earning ourselves a place on Canada’s World Team. Then at Worlds in Prague, Czech Republic, the entire Canadian team made a top-10 finish for the first-time in many years.

Share a skating story.

One of the most amazing highlights of our careers has been getting the opportunity to work with two of our role models and skating legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in our professional career.

We can remember the opportunity to watch them at a training camp in Lake Placid many years ago when we were first starting pairs and they were preparing for the Olympics. They were practicing in one of the small arenas going over and over what seemed to be just a few small steps. In fact, there was only one small section of the ice that was skated on and used.

We don’t think that at the time we fully understood or appreciated what they were doing or why they were not moving off that one section but now we can say after years later, having the opportunity to work along with them, sharing the ice, and performing on tour with them, we understand.

They are about creating as close to perfection as possible. They are truly connected and move as one reading each other’s minds. We are so grateful for the time we have spent with them, mentoring and learning from them. They are not only beautiful to watch on the ice to this day but more importantly beautiful people on the inside as well. It has taught us the importance of being well rounded role models both on and off the ice in everything we do.

Greatest skating achievement.

Representing Canada’s World Team twice – then taking that experience and moving into a very successful professional skating career that has yet to stop. We have had the opportunity to work with and share the ice with the best of the best, getting to perform around the world in over 40 countries.

We have then taken our experiences and created our own Production Company called “Seajo” that has allowed us the opportunity now for over 8 years to pay it forward to a new generation of skaters.

Have you stayed close to the friends you made while skating?

Yes. The two of us first met on the ice when we were 11 and 13 and now many years later are still truly the best of friends.  We have had the honor of meeting many people in the skating industry and show world who we are still friends with today.

Many are like family now. Some we don’t see or talk to for months or years and when we see them, we pick right up from the day we left off. In all our travels we have really been able to figure out who are Dream 100 are. Skating has brought us so many amazing friends that we are grateful for.

How has skating impacted your life.

Skating has taught us about successes and failures in life. To have a relentless attitude to never give up. It has taught us how to be a team, be a part of a team, how to create teams and bring together people who you want to work with.

Are you still skating or in the sport in some capacity?

Yes, every day we are involved in some capacity. We still actively skate ourselves for enjoyment and in shows. We have our own Production Company, we coach, choreograph, consult, and provide guidance on-line. Also, the best gift is being able to be Mom and Dad watching our little girl when she takes to the ice to skate.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently.

That is such a difficult question to answer because if things were different in our lives it might not have led us to where we are today. But, if we had the ability to do it all again, we would have stopped letting other people’s opinions of us or those that told us we were wrong to get in the way of our visions, dreams and destiny.  We have learned that to become a leader you must truly be the person that you are and be happy with who you are. Live the life you have been given to the fullest each day.

Where do you live/Employment/Career Achievements?

We live a lifestyle which takes us around the globe. Our home base is between Florida and the Greater Toronto Area. Our friends say to us they can never keep up with us and where we are from day to day. Some people plant their roots and stay still in one place. We have planted seeds that have made roots in many places, and we live on open wings.

Employment – we are multiple business owners and very proud entrepreneurs – building and partnering with global companies. Jodeyne – also works at Skate Canada as the Skating Development Coordinator.

Career Achievements – when we read this question, we just want to tell you that life for us is not one single achievement. Life for us is like a mountain range.  It’s not about one single mountain that we are trying to climb. It is made up of a series of peaks, valley’s and plateaus.

Sometimes we find ourselves climbing while at other times we find ourselves falling. But, each time we fall, although at times painful, we find a more efficient route to achieve our goals or figure out a better way to do it than before.

Yes, we can say we were Canadian National Medalists, World Team members, International medalists, skated in shows around the globe, performed on tv and now produce shows but those achievements were for that moment in our life in our timeline. They have prepared us for future moments to come.

The reason why this is so important to understand is we have learned that, years from now, nobody will remember what you did or how you placed but they will always remember for the rest of their lives in that moment how you made them feel. So, when we experience those moments in anything we have done or do, that is what makes it all worthwhile and that is the greatest achievement one can have in their careers.

What are your plans for the future?

Our future is now. Everyday we are living each day to its fullest and as much as we want to tell you exactly what we have up our sleeves, we don’t want to spoil it. But, stay tuned.

What do you do for fun in your free time?

Play sports, camp, go to the beach, dirt bike, jet ski, chalk art, canoeing, theatre, movies, go on drives and adventures to places we have never been, experience and see life through our daughter’s eyes, spend time with friends and family, it is a very long list.

Your passions/interests.

Coaching people, helping them to switch their mindset and their overall health, to become a better version of themselves.

Our passion is to travel the world with our daughter.  Discover new places creating new memories. Seeing what this world truly has to offer our souls.

Plain and Simple… “What’s going on in your life” since retiring.

Well, in our eyes we have yet to retire.  We have now skated together for 28 years and we are still loving the ice today just as much as we did when it all began.

We are business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants, life coaches, and the best job in the world, being Mom and Dad to our little girl Signey. She keeps us busy and we are enjoying every moment of her life that we can watching her grow up to be the little girl that she is becoming.

What is your favorite sport related movie?

Sean – The Blind Side; Jodeyne – Rudy

There are great underlying messages in both movies. If you haven’t seen them they are must sees!

Did you have any pre-skate rituals?

We have a saying, “Isolate your thoughts, one step at a time.” Each time we take to the ice we always say this to each other. Helps us to focus, be calm, and be connected in our thoughts and minds.

Who was your skating role model?

Sean – Lyndon Johnston, Wally Diestelmeyer, Osborne Colson; Jodeyne – Sherri Baier (Phelan), Cynthia Coull & Mark Rowsom

Your personal favourite skating program.

Sean – Competitive / 1997 Short Program “O” from Cirque de Solei

Show Program – Thankful from Josh Groban

Jodeyne – Competitive – 1995 Short Program – Reflections of Passion

Show Program – Thankful from Josh Groban

Our favourite long program we created but never got to compete was “Tribute” by Yanni.

A favorite quote that you live by.

Sean – “Live to inspire; inspire to live.”

Jodeyne – “Success consists of getting up one more time than you fall.”

What advice or words of wisdom would you give our current National Team?

That after performing in 1000’s of arenas we have learned that an arena is just an arena. It is just a piece of ice until “You” bring it to life. You have to go out there into your oasis and every time lay your performance down.

Remember your “Why” – you are there for you.  You would be surprised how many people are cheering for you and are not against you.

Enjoy every moment on and off the ice. We were once told by an amazing lady, Joyce Hisey, at our first International to make sure we just didn’t sit in a hotel room at competitions but to get out there to see the cities we are in. So, we have lived by that and no matter where we travel, we take full advantage of seeing what the world has to offer us. That teaches you so much about life itself.

What impact/skills did skating provide to assist you in your current employment (if applicable) or life?

Dedication – persistence – passion – goal setting – focus – communication with body language – interpersonal skills – world travel skills – how to be a positive team member – preparation – time management – endurance –  to play fairly – positive mindset – gracious not only in the successes we have but also in the defeats.

We did not just learn a sport or skills we learnt LIFE. We learned that through responsibility and accountability we found success and tools which have taken us far beyond our sport or careers. The skills we have learned through our skating are part of our souls and lead us in everything we do.

Do you have any old/new skating photos you would be willing to share… and the story that goes along with them… short or long?

We love to perform on stage. Creating a story where people can just simply watch and for just a moment in time forget where they are. With that we had a vision of creating something that would constantly grow.

A place that would allow international artists and performers to evolve. To be a place where they could come and go from, feeling like they were a part of something special and valued. Having worked with and for some amazing companies and people in our careers we took what we have learned and began to create our own place that would give back to our sport and industry.

Eight years ago, Seajo Productions & Entertainment, Inc. our production company, was born. We are so thankful that we can work along with our good friends, co-workers, and Fours Skating Partners Alexandra Shauman and Lukasz Rozycki to have a medium where we bring our visions and dreams to reality to entertain generations to come.

What skating event and when were you most inspired to pursue competitive figure skating and/or a specific goal in our sport and what was it about seeing that event and/or skater/s that affected you in the manner it did?

Sean – I wanted to be a hockey player, but something changed in me when I was watching the 1984 Olympics. I was watching the pair event and saw Lyndon Johnson and Melinda Kunhegyi performing in their white costumes. It was so exciting to watch him lift her up and carry her across the ice and gently set her down. I remember saying to myself I want to do that. Later that season I met them at an ice carnival and was able to ask how to begin doing this. A few months later my journey began in Pairs and now still to this day I get to carry my Angel across the ice.

Jodeyne – I can remember I always loved to skate and perform. I was at one of the local events close to my hometown of Stratford and a young lady, a coach named Sherri Baier, came up to myself and my parents asking me if I would like to try Pairs. So, at the age of 7 we made the decision to travel 45 minutes away from my home to find out what it was all about. I remember being at the try out and on the ice with so many skaters of all levels. It was amazing to watch and be a part of. After the on-ice session we were taken to an off-ice lift class. I can remember being asked to go over and do a lift with Doug Ladret one of the Senior Pair skaters at the time. He took me into his hands and lifted me high into the air and spun me around. I was immediately hooked and knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. There was and is no better feeling than being in the air.

The same question could apply if you took what you learned from skating and applied this learning and desire to achieve other things in our sport; tell us about what you did with what you learned and experienced.

The lesson we learned was that anything is possible. If you have a vision or a dream you can make it become a reality.

In terms of your own character development in life, what effect did your pursuit of competitive skating have on your character and why?

Sport has taught us so many things about ourselves. We are true believers that sport has not given us our personal characters but in fact revealed who we are inside. Sport has provided us invaluable life lessons that will stay with us personally for the rest of our lives and can be applied to anything we do.

Often, the situations we have faced on the ice and in the arena have much in common with daily situations in life. The choices and decisions we make directly affect our destiny. Success was always something we strived towards and was great when it happened, but it was the journey to get there that was the most important and what we remember.

It was the pursuit of overcoming our own limitations and always challenging ourselves that have fed our souls. We may not have been World Champions in the competitive world but where life has taken us and where it is leading us now is so well worth all of the lessons along the way.

When considering all that your pursuit of skating brought about in your life, what were the achievements and/or good fortune that meant the most to you and why?

This might sound hokey, but it was finding each other and now the icing on the cake is our little girl Signey.

We have a lifelong friendship that in the end just felt right. There are not too many people who you find in this world that you can truly adventure through all of life’s ups and downs with, travel the world and that truly see you for you.

We are that for each other and that means far more than any achievement we have had.

As often or few many times during your skating career, sometimes a personal encouragement received from someone who is not your parent, family member, or your skating coach can have a dramatic impact on you at the time; please share a story about how you may have been impacted in this manner and what came of that encouragement.

We would like to share a quick story about a soldier, a Victory Cross holder from England, who we worked along with on Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s – Dancing on Ice. His name is Dr. Johnson Gideon Beharry VC.

He was a man that grew up in Grenada with literally no shoes until he was 11. He travelled to England at a young age in search for a better life away from poverty and drugs. He was a solider in the Iraq war saving over 35 men after being severely injured with life-threatening injuries himself.

Johnson was awarded the highest honor from the Queen – The Victory Cross. He was not meant to survive but overcame the odds and is still with us here today. We were partnered together in the TV show.

When we started, Johnson’s only experience with ice was in drinks. He was in constant pain, could not raise his arms past his waist and had difficulty skating any steps on his own because of the injuries he had sustained at war.

In the beginning we were filled with doubt that he would not even make it to the first show. Then week after week through the period of rehearsals he had this amazing no-give-up attitude that shone through. You would teach him something and maybe it was the solider in him, but he would not forget what you showed him and although the milestones at first seemed small, by the live show he could glide across the ice taking Jodeyne’s hands.

Eventually with much determination we made it all the way to the semi finals and had the privilege to tour across England and Scotland.  Johnson overcame the obstacles he was presented with and ended up lifting (Jodeyne) above his head in a ballet lift traveling across the ice not only once but week after week on tour.

He really proved that there should be no such word as “Can’t” in our vocabulary. It was something so incredible to experience.  It is hard to bring the feeling into words. We have forever changed his world and he has forever changed ours. Being part of his journey and this experience has forever changed how we look at coaching, and life’s challenges whether they be physical limitations or limitations in your mind.

If you believe you can achieve. Push your limits – you never know where it will take you if you don’t try!

ME AND HER MAJESTY, QUEEN ELIZABETH

By Don Jackson

After I finished my competitive career at the end of the 1961-62 season, I turned professional by joining Shipstads & Johnson Ice Follies.

This show travelled through 22 cities each year in the United States but with only 2 stops in Canada, Toronto and Montreal. In February of that first season the tour finally came to Canada and of course I was excited to skate in Toronto for the first time as a star of Ice Follies.

In those days, the show was a big production that travelled with its own live orchestra and special lighting.  They had their own small barrier with lights around the perimeter of the ice and with a few extra rows of seating on the ice at the sides and the end, the rink was made smaller.

1964 Ice Follies with Ina Bauer

For my number, the arena was blacked out as they made a big announcement introducing me. The spotlights came on and I would skate out from behind the curtains, stop and acknowledge the crowd, and then my music would begin. Just like when I won the World title, I skated to Carmen. At the beginning of my program I skated around the end of the ice like my preparation for the triple Lutz but instead of the Lutz I would do a big Tuck Axel with a hop to a sudden skid stop. That night, for whatever reason, I landed the big jump but when I tried to stop, I fell forward on my hands and knees and slid into the low barrier! All I could do was pull myself up on the barrier to get back on my feet. The live orchestra gave me time to recover and acknowledge the crowd but all I could hear were a lot of giggles and some polite applause.

At that same moment, I looked up and looking down on me was this enormous picture of Queen Elizabeth which hung in Maple Leaf Gardens! This was probably my most embarrassing moment in Ice Follies. From that point, I continued on with my program and thank goodness the rest went well.

Many years later in October of 2002, Queen Elizabeth came to Canada as part of her celebration year for her Golden Jubilee. During this visit she hosted a luncheon in Ottawa at the Governor General’s residence, Rideau Hall, for 50 distinguished Canadians, one for every year of her reign. I was very, very fortunate to have been chosen as the Canadian for 1962 when my wife and I were invited to this special day and luncheon. It was a wonderful and amazing day as Barb and I were presented to the Queen. We even got a few minutes to chat with Her Majesty!

I would just like to say that the Queen was very polite and never once mentioned my ungracious fall in front of her at Maple Leaf Gardens!

On July 30, 2019, the figure skating community mourned the loss of Canadian pair skater, Brian Manford Power.  Brian and partner Audrey Downie-Williams were the 1951 Junior Canadian Champions and were also on the podium at the Senior Canadian Championships in 1952 (silver), 1954 (silver) and 1955 (bronze).

 

 

 

Andre Bourgeois, also reminisces about his memory of Brian.

“Brian Power played an important part in my development as a Junior skater.  I went to take from him for a month in 1981 to improve my figures.  Up to that point, my best result in figures at the Canadian Championships was tenth.

Brian spoke to me extensively about how the skating blade was designed to make circles and that I needed to trust my blade will make circles.  For three weeks, he gave me lessons only on the forward outside figure eight.  At the end of three weeks, he blindfolded me and made me skate a figure eight with three tracings.  I was surprised that even blindfolded, my tracings were not that far apart.  From that point forward, my attitude and approach to skating figures completely changed!  At the next Canadian Championships, I placed 2nd in figures, which was a pleasant surprise.  In my eyes, Brian was a skating genius.  I thanked him immensely.”

A Dedication by Audrey (Downie) Williams

Brian was my pair partner from 1950 to 1955, and then he joined The Ice Capades.

We had a lot of fun and never fought. We made a promise when Mr. Albert Enders matched us together that we would not quarrel. When we were frustrated, we skated away until we cooled down.

Brian was a beautiful free skater, but figures were not his “thing”. He did get his 7th figure test and tried his 8th a few times. In 1950 when we won Canadian Junior Pairs, he also won the free skate portion of the Junior Men’s competition.

Brian was a far better free skater than l was, but I will always remember that I had fun skating with him. He had a good sense of humour and he knew how to push me. We skated well together in competitions and shows.

We performed in shows almost every weekend in February and March in small towns in B.C. and went as far east as Saskatoon.  We also skated fours with Norman Walker and Pat (Spray) Lorimy.  It was great for a carnival: four solos, two Pairs and a Four.

Brian and I were very close friends for a long time. A group of us arranged for him to become senior professional at Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver for a few years.  Then he decided to free lance and moved out of Vancouver and we unfortunately lost touch.

He was a very good teacher and a great choreographer with a legacy which will live on in his many pupils.

He was a good friend and a super partner.

Brian’s obituary can be read in the Vancouver Sun

History is housed at Skate Canada under the watchful and passionate eye of Archivist, Emery Leger. Shown here is the display case at Skate Canada’s National Office in Ottawa which features historic trophies dating back to the early 1900’s. Some were presented by the Governor General of the time but many more were donated by private citizens, skating volunteers or former champions who chose to demonstrate their love for skating and its athletes’ accomplishments by creating these spectacular symbols of success.

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ACT NOW!  Deadline extended until November 4!

      CSTIPANIC@SKATECANADA.CA  

Limited quantities.  Offers expires November 4.

“Inspiring all Canadians to embrace the joy of skating.”

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 cstipanic@skatecanada.ca

Podcast: B. Lavoie – Part 2 | Alumni Spotlight | “Memories of Moscow” | Browning receives Order of Canada | Wedding Bells | 2020 World Championships and National Championships

Benoît Lavoie – Part 2

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.

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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.

Ice Follies – circa 1968-1969

Although Don passed away in 1997 at only age 53, Joni, with her husband Ron Taylor and admiring family, did attend the annual BC/YK Section Awards & Hall of Fame Induction Gala on April 27, 2019 to accept the honour on behalf of this accomplished BC Ice Dance team.  On hand to receive Don’s part of this honour was his son Ashton Phillips of Vancouver, who learned so much more about this exciting chapter in his father’s earlier life.

Besides the additional accomplishments as Canada’s Junior Ice Dance Champions in 1966 and, after moving up to the Senior level, achieving a Silver medal at the 1967 North American Figure Skating Championships, they managed two top 10 placements at the two World Championships in which they competed in 1967 & 1968.

Circa 1967

With their 6th place finish at the 1967 World Figure Skating Championships in Vienna, Austria (the last World’s event held on outdoor ice), this qualified Joni and Don to be one of six Demonstrator Couples invited by the International Olympic Committee in conjunction with the ISU to demonstrate Ice Dance at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.

Why was this significant?

Ice Dance, historically the 4th of figure skating’s four disciplines and officially added to the World Figure Skating Championships in 1952 was not included as an Olympic discipline at that time. While the other three skating disciplines of Men, Ladies, plus Pair skating had been the mainstay of World level figure skating since its early roots in the late 1800’s (Pair skating was added in 1908), Ice Dancing did not become part of the World scene until 1936 after evolving from its initial ‘ballroom dancing on ice’ to greater movement over the ice.  It was this transition to greater athleticism that eventually caused the International Olympic Committee to adopt Ice Dancing as an official Olympic figure skating discipline at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

Thus, Joni and Don were part of that six Ice Dance team contingent in 1968, led by Great Britain’s World Ice Dance Champions, Diane Towler and Bernard Ford, to demonstrate to the ‘Olympic’ world that, indeed, Ice Dancing did belong as a Winter Olympics’ discipline.

The impact on the skating world, especially in the discipline of Ice Dancing, was significant.  With the prospect of Ice Dancing being included as an Olympic sport, many more skaters were attracted to the discipline.

So how did Joni and Don find themselves in this enviable position at the 1968 Winter Olympics?

Joni was one of numerous aspiring single skaters who kept an open mind to exploring the Ice Dance discipline.  Training under the capable guidance of long-time coach and mentor Hellmut May, and skating out of Vancouver’s Kerrisdale Figure Skating Club, Joni recognized that there was one major ‘roadblock’ to overcome: “I need an Ice Dance partner”!.  It just so happened that long-time skating judge Florence Morgan tipped off Joni that a similarly aged male dancer was having tryouts for a partner at his home Capilano Winter Club in North Vancouver.  As a result, Joni asked to be included to try out with the suave and dapper Don Phillips, who was training under club coach Alex Fulton.  Joni’s audition at this tryout was a success, with Don deciding that he had found the ‘right partner’.  It was then decided that both Alex Fulton and Hellmut May would coach the team and each skater would represent their own club.

Once the partnership was formed, it wasn’t long until the team gelled, and they set about proving it by qualifying to compete in Junior Dance at the 1965 Nationals in Calgary where they earned a silver medal.  While this meant that Joni and Don were training at two clubs, it was clear that this Ice Dance team was on track to do something special with their opportunity.  The next year they won Junior Dance (1966) and headed for Senior competition.

Circa 1967-1968

After this promising start, Joni and Don were advised to take notice of what was happening at a new skating club on the North Shore at West Vancouver’s Hollyburn Country Club where former 4-time World Ice Dance Champion Jean Westwood was coaching. Jean was making a significant impact in the Ice Dance coaching world by attracting top American Ice Dance teams and was looking for Canadian teams to round out her program.  In 1966, Joni and Don became part of this very competitive training centre which was able to attract aspiring new competitive coaches. Names like Robin and Heather Jones assisted Jean in creating and guiding exciting, competitive Ice Dance teams vying for Canadian, American and World Ice Dance medals – at a time when interesting choreography and dance lifts elevated the quality and difficulty of the sport.

The results from Joni and Don’s search and commitment to making the most of their opportunity gave proof to the importance of skating in a competitive training environment led by accomplished and motivated coaches.

The other Ice Dancing force that was emerging, at that time, was the arrival of Russian Ice Dance teams and their emphasis on speed and drama.  By 1969, Liudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov were already on the podium – just ahead of their run of World Ice Dance titles beginning in 1970.

In terms of a denouement to Joni and Don’s Ice Dance career, the team was invited to join Ice Follies in 1968, an attractive and lucrative way to end a skating career. Other priorities then took over and Joni and Don went their separate ways, with Joni having met her future husband while touring with Ice Follies and settling in the United States, while Don chose to begin his coaching career in Peterborough.  Not long after, Joni left the USA as a single mother to begin her coaching career at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton, Alberta, while Don returned to BC to pick up his life where he left off, marrying his first wife. However, there were new chapters to unfold for both partners.

Don found very interesting work as a coach in Santa Rosa, California, in a rink built by famous American cartoonist Charles Schulz (of Snoopy fame).  It was here that he met and married his second wife with whom he had two children.  Unfortunately, Don’s life was cut short in 1997 when he died at the age of 53.

North of the border, Joni returned to BC when her boys were finished school and found coaching work at Coquitlam FSC in Greater Vancouver.  Not long after, Joni met and married her second husband, Ron Taylor, in Dec. 1996 – complete with special wedding singer Michael Buble, a good friend of Joni’s two sons.  Joni and Ron are now kept busy with nine grandchildren plus Ron’s 101-yr. old mother and Joni’s 103-yr. old uncle.

Congratulations to Joni Graham and Don Phillips, a BC team who made Ice Dance history, honoured by their induction into the BC/YK Section’s Virtual Hall of Fame.

Memories of Moscow (1978)
by Robert McCall

It all seems unrealistic to me now, like a fantastic dream.  We were actually on our way to the Soviet Union to participate in Moscow Skate.

Only two weeks earlier I had been lying in hospital bed in Darmouth, Nova Scotia with huge red blossoms all over my body and a tube stuck in my arm.  Few people believed that I would be well enough for Moscow Skate, but I was determined that nothing was going to prevent me from skating with the world’s best ice dancers.  Not even scarlet fever!

Luckily, I was well enough by the time our departure day arrived.  My partner Marie McNeil, our coach Janet Dunnet Purdy and I boarded the jet in Halifax and flew to Toronto where we were to meet Billie Mitchell of Vancouver and Toronto international judge Suzi Francis.  The five of us then flew to London, England where we were supposed to board a connecting flight to Moscow.

However, London had other plans for us!  When we arrived at London airport the fog was so dense that we had to detour to Scotland and land in Preswick.  After a two hour delay, we were able to fly back to London and land.

Memories of Mrs. Mitchell bustling about London airport will remain with me forever.  Her energy is phenomenal, and I was exhausted just watching her.  While the rest of us melted into and available chair, Mrs. Mitchell made record time organizing the rest of our flight schedule to Moscow.

Since we had to stay overnight in London, we took the scenic route to our hotel, and were able to see that great city in the brilliance of its Christmas lighting.

The next morning, we flew to Frankfurt, Germany and boarded a Russian airliner.  When we landed in Moscow, we had little trouble clearing customs and were whisked to our hotel, the Hotel Russia.

Our hotel room was very similar to a Canadian or an American one but remembering the story about a Canadian woman who found a strange lump under the bedroom carpet of her Moscow hotel, I was cautious not to tamper with any screws or fixtures.  Apparently, this visitor was afraid that the screw under the carpet held some sort of listening device, so she took a screwdriver and loosened it – only to hear that a chandelier crashed to the floor in the room below!

As we entered the hotel restaurant for our first meal, we were surprised to see the British skaters Carol Long and John Philpott, and coach Bobby Thompson.  Marie and I had become good friends of Carol and John in Lake Placid, New York and had also worked with Mr. Thompson at that time.  After a gossip session we were escorted to our table and found a familiar Canadian flag as the centrepiece.

An all-female band entertained us while we ate.  Most of us had a little appetite at this point.  Marie and Janet stared into space while Mrs. Mitchell and Dr. Francis politely ate a little food.  I, however, attacked my food with all the grace and elegance of a professional wrestler.

When we woke the following morning, a light snowfall greeted us.  From my window I could see a Greek orthodox church with its towering mosques.  We took a bus ride through the city en route to the famous Palace of Sports for our first practice session.  The streets were remarkably clean, and the snow was white.  Not like the brownish sludge at home!  We passed the Czar’s Palace, the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Church, all reminders of the elegance and grandeur of a by-gone age.

At the rink the Russians were already practicing.  The workout sessions were divided into two groups, seven Russians teams in one session and all the other nations (six including Canada) in the second group. All the top Russian ice dancing teams competed except for the World Champions, Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov who were to give exhibitions.

The first evening of competition included the pair’s short and compulsory dances.  All the pairs, except one East German team, were Russian.  I was awed by the Russians precision and skill.

Performing before audiences of 18, 000 people against former world champions after only one compulsory practice almost overwhelmed me.  Fortunately, Marie was composed enough to support the team.  Under the circumstances, our dances were not of historical significance, with the exception of the Yankee Polka.  At the end of the first night’s competition we were in 12th place.

The Russian audiences were extremely receptive and supportive of all the skaters.  Every seat was occupied for the entire competition.

After the first night of competition, we attended the Bolshoi Ballet in the great opera hall.  Our host, Natalia Linichuk, picked us up at our hotel.  It was a memorable experience.  The hall was packed, and the dancers were acclaimed like national heroes.

The next day we were invited to lunch with the Canadian ambassador, Dr. D. Ford.  Despite the fact that I spilt tomato juice all over an expensive white carpet, the luncheon went smoothly, and His Excellency joined the cheering section of the audience for the exhibition performances on the final day, throwing bouquets of roses to Marie and I as we completed our number.

The second phase of the dance competition was the Original Set Pattern (waltz).  We were pleased with our showing in the waltz, although we knew that it was almost impossible for us to move up in the standings after the compulsory dance.

The competition ended Saturday afternoon.  Overall it was of extremely high calibre.  In the ladies’ singles, Teresa Foy of Great Britain shone in the long and short free-style programs yet dropped in placement after figures.  The final winner was Carola Weissenberg of West Germany.  For a country that has produced world champions in men’s, pair’s and dance, Russia has yet to produce a world champion in the women’s event.

The pair’s and men’s event were spectacular, but it was really the ice dancing that captured the audiences.  Andrei Minenkov and Irina Moisseva skated with the poise and confidence of world champions, and all the Russian teams skated imaginative and creative programs.

Following the final competition, the Russian officials hosted a reception for all the guest skaters, judges and officials.  The competitors received commemorative medals to remind them of Moscow and the competition.  And remember we will!

Competing with the excellent Russian teams, experiencing the history and splendour of Moscow, renewing old friendships…  All of these memories of Moscow will remain with us for a long time.

Kurt Browning receives Order of Canada

The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Its Companions, Officers and Members take to heart the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (“They desire a better country”).

Her Excellency presented the Member insignia of the Order of Canada to Kurt Browning, C.M.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, invested 1 Companion, 7 Officers and 21 Members into the Order of Canada during a ceremony at the Citadelle, on July 4, 2019.

Kurt Browning was one of twenty one recipients to receive the Order of Canada in a ceremony at the Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle in Quebec on July 4, 2019.

Described below is a brief biography of Kurt Browning by the Governor General.

World figure skating champion of 1989, this easy-going Albertan is admired for his skilled and disciplined performances. His fresh outlook and engaging personality make him an excellent role model for the youth of this country and an impressive ambassador for figure skating as he embodies the ideals of Canadian amateur sport.

Congratulations Kurt!

Olympic Champion, Eric Radford marries Luis Fenero in Spain!

Credit: Victor Lax

After a two year engagement, 3 time Olympic medalist Eric Radford married ice dancer Luis Fenero this month in a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony in Spain.

In a recent social media post, Eric expresses his feelings about his special day.

“Words can never explain how incredible the last days have been. An amount of love I could’ve never imagined and a wedding day I could’ve never dreamed. Thank you to the amazing Victor Lax for capturing the best moments of my life so beautifully and making them into art.”

Best wishes on this wonderful journey, as you build your new lives together.

Wedding Bells Ring for Siobhan Karam!

Siobhan Karam, Canadian junior national champion and ISU Grand Prix competitor in Ice Dance, had her dream wedding on July 20th when she married singer-songwriter Mike Godwin at Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Congratulations on finding each other! Your greatest adventure has just begun.

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ACT NOW!  Deadline to purchase 2020 World Alumni Event Package is August 28!

      CSTIPANIC@SKATECANADA.CA  

“Inspiring all Canadians to embrace the joy of skating.”

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 cstipanic@skatecanada.ca

Podcast: B. Lavoie | A Legend, A Legacy | The Partnership | Lives Lived: A. Doherty | My Very Own Centennial Celebration | 2020 World Event Packages

Benoît Lavoie – Part 1

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.

Listen Now

A Legend, a Legacy

by Debbi Wilkes

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.

Let me set the stage.

As many will remember, decades ago there were no Grand Prix events, no summer competitions or individual events, no such thing as an invitational, no chance to test programming until you were actually competing in Sectionals or Canadians. You may have had the luxury of a visit from an official to get their impressions but back then it was pretty much done on the QT, judges and skaters separated by protocol as if they were on opposing teams. Today, all members of the skating family contribute to a skater’s success. What a bonus!

But what about down time, periods of rest to recover and re-energize? Today there’s really no such thing as “time off”.

With a short recess after show performances and special appearances, competitors today use the off season to begin the real “foundational” work for the next year… the decisions for the creative process, the ideas, the music selection, the choreography, the costume design and, most importantly, the practice needed to improve, prepare and train for the new season.

In my day, my family insisted that I had at least two months off… June and July… “to be a normal kid”, my Dad would say. We had a cottage up north, a sanctuary, somewhere to escape the pressures of competition and the expectations that went along with them… but I couldn’t wait to get back on the ice!

Much of my love for skating was motivated by my coaches Bruce and Marg Hyland at the Metropolitan Summer Skating School at the old Weston Arena in Toronto. With Bruce’s passing just a few weeks ago, it gave me the opportunity to look back at all those years of summer skating and to reflect on many of those life-shaping experiences and the incredible impact they had on my life and career.

Margaret & Bruce Hyland

Summer was the only time of year when I could skate all day and practice with some of the best, like Otto and Maria Jelinek, Louis Stong and Don Jackson. As a young skater looking on, that taught me some of the best lessons.

As heads of the school, Marg and Bruce brought many original and revolutionary ideas to our training, things that today are automatic additions. Activities like “off ice” training, strength-building exercise, creative movement, musical appreciation and modern dance became part of our daily regimen. Marg even took it a step further by teaching us classes about diet, manners and etiquette, grooming, clothing and make-up. I loved every second!!

And then there was technology … or lack of it by today’s standards.

In the 60’s, let’s remember nobody had heard of laptops, cell phones or the Internet. We had Hi-Fi radios and record players… yes, vinyl… stereo if you were leading edge, black and white TVs, and the only kind of video tape was a 2”-wide type used by TV stations. Digital??? Never heard of that either!!

The selection and recording of music was always top of the summer’s agenda and one the hi-lites of the summer for me.

To choose our music, my Mom would listen to the radio all day long, during laundry, house cleaning, cooking, driving, you name it, all in search of good selections. When she heard something she thought we might like… remember, 99% of programming was to classical music… she would either phone or write the radio station directly… imagine, snail mail… give them the date and time she heard the piece, and they would check their programming logs to give her info on the title, composer, and recording. Under Bruce’s direction, the process would often take weeks!

The next piece in solving the musical puzzle was to head to a special record store in downtown Toronto, Sam the Record Man, to try to find or order the recording. (My parents must have spent thousands on records!)

“Sam the Record Man”

Once Bruce had approved the music, we’d all get together to choose the specific parts of the selection and figure out if and how they’d go together. That was a tutorial all on its own! Bruce was adamant we learn about the music’s history too, its composer and its story. He’d say we couldn’t interpret the music unless we understood its “soul”. We’d listen for hours to hear the tones and nuance… and to FEEL the music.

Then it was off to this magical place… RCA recording studio. Bruce insisted we join him to witness the expertise of the engineers… where a sound wizard would push buttons and pull levers to create two copies of our very own vinyl record. (In those days we carried our records in a specially-built wooden carrying case, all the rage. Remember those?)

As you can imagine, Bruce was very picky about how music fit together, one note more or less made a big difference to the sound. And he was determined that if we could understand what the music meant, our choreography would be developed according to what the music said.

He taught us his music rules too, things like you should never start or end a movement in the middle of a phrase of music. To Bruce, skating wasn’t just about completing tricks successfully, it was just as important to tell your story. Every stroke of the blade had to match a specific musical note, otherwise your “story” wouldn’t be clear to the audience and could never have the greatest impact.

With music in hand, the choreography would begin, and Bruce was a magician in design. We’d go through days of experimentation with the placement of elements and how they were connected. Was there enough time to set up a lift properly? Was the order correct to maximize their success? Were we covering the entire ice in a way that showed off our best skills? Were our program hi-lites matching the musical hi-lites? Was the program construction so intense we’d be exhausted by the halfway point … remember senior pairs skated 5 minutes … or had we built in some breathing space? Just like a beautiful piece of music with highs and lows, he explained, a beautiful program had to have them too.

Bruce Hyland

Looking back, I remember feeling our programs were never quite “finished”. As our ability to skate them well improved, Bruce always made little tweaks to make them better, more flowing and more difficult, even up to competition day. Bruce never wanted them to be automatic or robotic despite the hours and hours dedicated to their training. But any change was always driven by what the music said.

I can still hear him call out, “Listen to the music!”

Thank you Bruce … for all the lessons.

The Partnership

by Nancy Sorensen

In the 1980’s, competitive figure skaters in the Maritimes had several disadvantages. There weren’t very many of them! The few who reached national levels, were usually the best skaters on home ice with little or no competition, nobody to “skate up to”.  Outside of Maritime-generated competitions, there was limited exposure of Atlantic skaters to competitors and conditions in unfamiliar venues. This resulted in talented, young athletes lacking high level competitive experience and in performing frequently before audiences.  The New Brunswick Skater Development, of which I was a member, sought a solution to this dilemma.

In Fredericton in 1981, a minor, professional hockey team was established called the Fredericton Express.  Parent teams were the Quebec Nordiques and the Vancouver Canucks, both NHL affiliates. Home games for the Fredericton team were held at the Aiken Centre on the UNB campus.  Attendance was, generally, favourable. Could hockey benefit figure skating?

Fredericton Express

I met with the General Manager of the Express and we discussed our needs.  For figure skating it was exposure, audience interaction, and performance experience. For the hockey franchise?  Early evening games meant many fans had little time, if any, for supper before heading to the Aiken Centre.  The manager’s problem was the mass exodus of fans to the concession stands between first and second periods, long line ups for food and drink, then the constant dribble of spectators returning to their seats.  This sorely disrupted avid hockey goers who didn’t want to miss a minute.  There seemed to be a constant upheaval of people standing, shuffling, getting resettled.  This had become a major irritant to hard core hockey buffs resulting in multi complaints.  Could figure skating help hockey?

The team manager and I hatched a plan that we hoped would benefit both of us. Let’s put a figure skater on the ice between Period 1 and Period 2 as entertainment for non hungry spectators and as an incentive to the foodies to return to their seats promptly. The second period could begin with an attentive, game ready crowd.  What more challenging exposure for figure skaters than to perform before a hockey crowd!

There were kinks to iron out.  Everything about hockey is timed, including the intervals between periods of play.  Teams are fined if those breaks run overtime.  Nets have to be removed, the Zamboni makes its rounds, ice dries, goals replaced, teams return to the ice.  A twenty minute window. So, we practised. The manager and I, stop watches in hand, timed the various activities between periods one and two. Now, we had to squeeze in a skater, performing up to a three and a half minute program within that time allowance. Rehearsals continued during Express practices…..nets, Zamboni, 30 seconds for skater to be announced and get on/off the ice, the program, applause, nets restored.  Close!  It could be done as long as here were no hitches or unforeseen problems. My Skater Development colleagues and I composed a roster of skaters who might best benefit from our plan yet enhance the hockey game.

There were other things to consider, such as an available empty dressing room somewhere in the arena.  No warm up!  Preparation would be a loosening up before stepping onto the ice.  To charm the audience, spread eagles, long spirals, fast spins and, please, do not fall. Gear the program for a non knowledgeable audience.  Show business all the way.  Bright colours, and sequins. Take your bow, exit the ice as quickly as possible.  The idea was to promote figure skating to possibly uninterested onlookers while gaining performance experience. All skaters involved were not Frederictonians which necessitated travel, accommodation and other expenses.

For the team directors, they were looking for an effective way to lure the concession cats to their seats in good time to watch the skating but more so, to be ready for the continuation of the games and be less a nuisance to serious hockey fans.

Our first presentation to a good Aiken Centre crowd was a very young skater, super cute, with an impressive spiral and a wicked wind up spin. Her impending performance was announced at the start of the game in hopes that curiosity might entice some spectators to stay put and watch. Our skater debuted to sparse numbers. Our next effort featured a promising, young dance team, well received by those who cared to remain.  Was this going to work?

André Bourgeois

These exhibitions were sprinkled throughout home game schedules. As the seasons progressed, we noticed more and more people stayed behind or hurried their concession visits in order to watch the announced entertainment. Our skaters grew more comfortable at presenting themselves and their talents before hockey aficionados. They skated to increased spectator numbers since their programs added a special dimension to the hockey evening.  Our competitors did well, one being Andre Bourgeois, who had had a most successful run, winning the free skating in Junior Men and reaching the podium at Canadians.

The stopwatch practices paid off.  We never had a time infraction and the process became a smooth routine. Our alliance benefited both sports as hoped.  Alas, all good things come to an end.  In 1988, The Fredericton Express team moved to Nova Scotia to become the Halifax Citadels.  All was not lost however. Our skaters met the challenge of performing before audiences while the hockey crowd gained a greater respect for their own game and an appreciation for figure skating.

Figure Skating, Fun and Friendship

by Joyce Hisey and Audrey Williams

A special friend of Figure Skating, Anne Doherty, died on May 31st. She was a member of the Skate Canada Alumnae but more than that a special friend to Audrey Williams and Joyce Hisey.

With Audrey, the friendship began in teenage days when they crashed together running in a hall and got a shock! For Joyce, the fun and games began when Anne, then a C.F.S.A. Board member asked her to produce a new set of dance records.

L-R: Audrey Williams, Joyce Hisey and Anne Doherty

Anne’s main love was Figure Skating, especially dance. When her skating days ended, she took to judging covering all three disciplines at the domestic level and eventually became an ISU Championship judge.

At home she became a leader in the Manitoba Section administration and played an important part in its development. This outstanding contribution covered many years.

Judging, monitoring skaters and mentoring young judges was not all Anne accomplished. She volunteered with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, ran a flower shop and lately got into environmental ‘water’ matters at her cottage on Lake Winnipeg.

On the home front, partner Ken and son John were #1 on Anne’s list of priorities. Family time in the city or at the cottage always came first.

Finally, retirement! Roomies, Audrey, Anne and Joyce, burned the midnight oil many a night sipping white wine (rye for Joyce) and reminiscing. Time at events meant renewing friendships, gossiping and enjoying their favorite sport. Never without an opinion on a program, music, costume or judging, the ladies were happiest remembering ‘the good old days’!

The skating world has lost a most worthy participant, skater, official and friend in Anne. She will be greatly missed.

To read Anne’s obituary please go to this LINK

My Very Own Centennial Celebration – Heather Fraser

by Heather Fraser

Heather Fraser

At the 1967 Canadian Championships, it was the Centennial year for Canada. Being such a special year to win, there were many wonderful celebrations included in each Province and, at many of those, athletes from all sports were invited to participate.

My journey that week was one that ended exactly how I had dreamed…

I came 6th in figures and just wanted to give it my best in the freeskate. I remember that performance as movement filled with joy and knowing I had done all that I could (but so had everyone else!).

I was sitting in the dressing room when the awards were just starting, and a coach came in and said I had best get my skates on fast. I didn’t know why, but I did as I was told and then sat in the penalty box.

The Ladies were announced and when I heard my name called, I went out and stood on the 3rd place stair – feeling pretty good – 6th to 3rd. Then when the person handing out the medals gave me a hand up to the top – shock set in.

When the medals were given out, I got a silver one… so right away I thought I had come second and was put in the wrong place. The others were given medals too and then I was given the trophy… so I did win!

Canadian National Medal – 1st place

I learned years later that a silver medal was given by the CFSA (now Skate Canada) for all podium finishes.

Several months later I received a GOLD Centennial medal with the Centennial Maple Leaf on it and with a small skating figure at the bottom. These were given to everyone in sport who won a National title. The skater changed to tennis player or swimmer etc. depending on the sport.

Centennial Gold Medal – CANADA

With Toronto hosting that Canadian Championships that year, Ontario invited all sport national champions from competitions held in Ontario to a special event and presented them with medals that were also lovely. I was unable to attend but they graciously mailed me my medal.

Ontario Centennial Medallion of Excellence

It was such a great accomplishment and memory… and now these medals are resting in a very special place!

Get your package today – limited seats left in Option 1

      CSTIPANIC@SKATECANADA.CA  

 

STAY TUNED – Alumni Event Packages for the 2020 National Skating Championships will be available in the late Summer beginning of Fall.

 

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 cstipanic@skatecanada.ca

Podcast: D. Steele | Worlds from the Stands | “The True Meaning of Teamwork!” | Lawrence Ties the Knot | Lives Lived | HOF Dubreuil & Lauzon | Osmond Retired | ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 – ALUMNI EVENT PACKAGE

Debbi Wilkes, speaks with Saskatchewan’s Doug Steele, whose career in skating spans decades from learn-to-skate toddler to Skate Canada President. Along the way, Doug was tasked with developing the national and international competitive framework for what was to become Synchronized Skating.

Listen now

“Worlds 2019 … From the Stands”  

By Eric Radford, World Pair Champion

Landing in Japan to attend the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships felt surprisingly foreign to me this past March. Sitting on the plane for 14 hours and not thinking about my triple Lutz or a Throw quad and just being able to lose myself in a movie felt very different than what I had been feeling just over a year prior.

For the 2019 Worlds, I was still competing but this time off the ice in order to campaign for the ISU Athletes Commission. The position is voted on by the Athletes at the competition and this year there were two candidates.

Continue reading “Podcast: D. Steele | Worlds from the Stands | “The True Meaning of Teamwork!” | Lawrence Ties the Knot | Lives Lived | HOF Dubreuil & Lauzon | Osmond Retired | ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 – ALUMNI EVENT PACKAGE”

Alumni Package Information: ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020

EXCITING NEWS!

You may have heard that the tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020  will go on sale to the public on May 31, 2019.

Before you rush to the ticket line, here is an important piece of information.

Please stay tuned for further details on May 31, 2019 (through this Alumni blog) about how you can purchase an Alumni Event Package for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 which will take place next year from March 16-22, 2020 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Items being considered for the Alumni* Event Package include (limited quantities and subject to change until confirmed on May 31):

  • Event Tickets
  • Alumni Seat Section
  • VIP Lounge hosted by Skate Canada
  • Alumni Social hosted by Skate Canada
  • Alumni Brunch
  • Event Pin & Program

* Alumni:

  • Senior Athletes & Coaches (Olympic and ISU Championships Teams, National Medallists, National Team, Synchronized Team Medallists)
  •  World & Canadian Junior Champion (s)
  •  Hall of Fame Members
  •  Past Presidents
  •  Officials (Challenge, Divisionals level and higher)

HOTEL

If you plan to attend the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020, we would encourage you to book your hotel now directly at the following LINK or you can look at other options on your own.

Please help spread the word amongst your Alumni peers!  And I look forward to sharing more news and details on how to purchase your Alumni Event Package on May 31st!

If you require further information please do not hesitate to email Celina Stipanic at cstipanic@skatecanada.ca

Podcast: J. Picard & E. Gilles | Spotlight: M. McNeil Bowness | Chan Office Visit | Dore Mentorship Fund | Milestone Events

Josée Picard and Éric Gilles were recently inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame at the 2019 Canadian National Skating Championships in Saint John, New Brunswick.  Alumni Committee Chair, Debbi Wilkes, visited with them recently to discuss their success as coaches and to discover that some of their greatest long-term achievements were actually “off the ice”.

Listen now

Marie McNeil (Bowness). Credit: Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame

Where is Marie McNeil now and what has she been up to?  

Written by Marie McNeil Bowness

Newer generations know me as Marie Bowness, an ISU technical specialist and power skating coach.  Older generations, many alumni, know me as Marie McNeil, Ice Dance champion with partner Rob McCall. So, as you can tell I have spent most of my life on the ice.  As they say, once a rink rat always a rink rat.

Rob McCall and Marie McNeil (Bowness)

Continue reading “Podcast: J. Picard & E. Gilles | Spotlight: M. McNeil Bowness | Chan Office Visit | Dore Mentorship Fund | Milestone Events”

Podcast: Moscovitch & Baldé | Passing of Mrs. Mitchell | 2019 Nationals | The Brothel Incident | Westwood Gems Part 2

This season Skate Canada and the Alumni Committee welcomed two new members into the Alumni Family. This past January at Nationals in Saint John, two of Canada’s most popular national team members, Dylan Moscovitch and Elladj Baldé, renewed their friendship and reminisced about the experiences skating has brought to their lives Facing the end of their first year of retirement from competition, they also talked about their new goals … and through many giggles … shared how skating has prepared them for the road ahead as they both embark on new directions.  

Listen now »

Skate Canada saddened by the passing of skating pioneer Billie Mitchell

Skate Canada is saddened by the passing of beloved Hall of Famer Billie Mitchell. She passed away peacefully at age 103 on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Mitchell, a native of Vancouver, blazed a path for female leadership in sport and was devoted to advancing figure skating throughout her life.

Continue reading “Podcast: Moscovitch & Baldé | Passing of Mrs. Mitchell | 2019 Nationals | The Brothel Incident | Westwood Gems Part 2”

Podcast: E. Stojko | Oly | The Whistle | J. Westwood | Reynolds Retires

As Athlete Ambassador of the 2019 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, Elvis shared accounts of some of his experiences competing at Nationals, the things it taught him and the lessons he hopes he can pass along. 20 years post competition and he is still one of the most sought-after performers in the world.  Listen Now »

About the OLY Designation?                                     

By Denise Benning, OLY

When you see the letters PhD after someone’s name, it is recognition that the individual has reached the highest academic level, an accomplishment which took years of hard work and sacrifice to achieve.  From a sports perspective, this description also rings true when considering the dedication it takes to compete as a high-performance athlete.

Continue reading “Podcast: E. Stojko | Oly | The Whistle | J. Westwood | Reynolds Retires”

Podcast: J. Hisey | Special Holiday Message | Oh, the People You’ll Meet! | Once Upon an Ice Rink… | Alumni Celebrate at Grand Prix Final

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.

Listen Now »

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)

Janice Hunter & Susan Heffernan

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.

Continue reading “Podcast: J. Hisey | Special Holiday Message | Oh, the People You’ll Meet! | Once Upon an Ice Rink… | Alumni Celebrate at Grand Prix Final”