By Maureen Bennie
Ice Edge Figure Skating Club

The 10th Adult Nationals competition, hosted by the Valleyview Skating Club,  was held in Kamloops, BC on April 5 – 7th. Skaters from nine provinces competed in a wide range of events and age categories. Some were seasoned competitors and have skated at Nationals several times; others were brand new to the experience. I was one of the newbies.

As an avid fan of figure skating, competing at Nationals was a dream come true. I had always watched competitions from the stands, longing to try it one day. I took my first Learn to Skate lessons at my local Leisure Centre in Calgary, AB at the age of 39. I never thought I’d ever compete let alone enter an event like Nationals.

Several things made a huge impression on me at this event. Adults skate for different reasons than children do, and most do it because they have a passion for it. It’s difficult to balance work, family life, and the hectic schedule that comes with adult life. There are also tremendous physical demands in skating that become tougher as we age. Training has many ups and downs, frustrations, and challenges. All of the hard work comes to fruition at an event like Nationals.

The skaters had polished and well-trained programs.  Pressure came only from the individual adults themselves, wanting to have the best skate possible with the highest results. Coaches cheered, encouraged, and kept skaters calm and focused. The spectators clapped and hollered for everyone who stepped out onto the ice to showcase their hard work from the training season.

We witnessed the hidden talents of competitors. Many designed and/or sewed their own costumes. There were some great, creative programs that reflected the personality of that particular skater. Some have dance, gymnastics or other sports in their background. Everyone skated with such heart.

There were some standout performances in my mind. Joan McGrath of the Goldstar Skating Academy in Calgary, AB had an innovative interpretative program that was just plain fun. She performed it with such character – the audience was having a good time right along with her! She scored over 30 points to win the gold. She also had an outstanding freeskate which earned her a silver medal. Joan and her daughter Morgan did an adorable number in the Open Couples Interpretive winning a silver medal. What an experience to skate with your own daughter!

Cathy Thoms of the Ice Edge Figure Skating Club in Chestermere, AB had 2 outstanding gold medal performances in both her interpretive and freekskate Master’s Level categories. She was nursing a terrible cold but was able to rally herself to have the skate of her life. The judges were so impressed with her interpretive program that they want to use it as a national training example of what a program at this level should look like.

Newcomer Shigeru “Shig” Taya of the Ice Edge Figure Skating Club in Chestermere, AB had never competed before. He jumped in with great enthusiasm on two programs that were well received, earning him two gold medals. Shig was truly excited to be there and enjoyed every moment on the ice. He never had the opportunity to skate growing up in Japan and has only had two years of lessons. He had such great performances and was a delight to watch. Shig is one to watch in the coming years because he’ll do amazing things and is progressing at a rapid rate.

Pat Noddin and David Warman of New Brunswick are almost 80 years old but still young at heart. Their Open Couples Interpretive program skated to “That’s What Friends are For” had everyone in tears. It was a poignant, sentimental program with gentle moves and fleeting touches. Pat and David have been friends for decades and the communication they had with each other in the performance reflected that.  They have inspired me to enter that event for next season and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.

Diana Barkley and Geoff Squires from Kitsilano FSC in BC have been long time competitors at Nationals. Diana is elegance and grace on the ice and her dance partner, Geoff, showcases her at her best. They are a beautiful dance team to watch and gracious competitors. Their gold medal performance of an Edith Piaf medley in the Open Couples Interpretive brought the house down.

Our Calgary area skaters had a great showing at Nationals. In addition to the people I already mentioned, here are some of the other results:

Morgan McGrath – Silver in Silver Women Freeskate, YA
Natasha Taylor – Silver in Competitive Women Freeskate, Class 1
Lori Perry – Silver in Pre-Introductory Interpretive, Class II
Diane Gilders – Bronze in in Pre-Introductory Interpretive, Class III and Gold in Bronze Freeskate, Class III
Cathy Taylor – Bronze in Bronze Interpretive, Class II
Maureen Bennie – Bronze in Bronze Freeskate, Class III
Lori Louis Thompson – Bronze in Bronze Interpretive, Class III and Silver in Silver Freeskate, Class III
Black Gold – Bronze in Adult Synchro. I

I’m sure I speak for all the competitors when I say it was a great weekend with lots of laughs and great skating. Special thanks to the Valleyview Skating Club in Kamloops that hosted the event. They had everything running smoothly and were both welcoming and helpful. What a memorable event and one I’m proud to say I was a part of.