By Maureen Bennie

On February 8th, the Red Deer Skating Club hosted this year’s Western Regional Adult Championships (WRAC) in Red Deer, AB. Competitors came from three different provinces and the Northwest Territories. From the moment skaters entered the building, they were greeted by a warm and friendly team of volunteers. Competitors were excited to receive two goodie bags this year – one from the host club and one from Grassroots Skaters’ Foundation, an organization based in Calgary that raises funds to support adult skating.

Everyone was excited to be skating at the ENMAX Centrium, a nice, warm facility. For older skaters, keeping the body warm enough to compete is always a challenge. There was one less thing to be concerned about this time in such an excellent venue.

The dressing rooms buzzed with activity. Adult skaters are a tight knit community: everyone gets excited to see one another and catch up on the latest news. We shared training successes and mishaps, family updates, and where we plan to skate next. We helped each other get into costumes, style hair, and keep our nerves at bay.

What strikes me at adult competitions is the level of support you receive from your fellow competitors. You honestly don’t even view them that way – they are teammates, people who share in your triumphs and want to see you reach your personal goals. The largest audience at WRAC was gathered at the boards – skaters competing but there to cheer you on. The atmosphere was one of total support.

Having this level of support from both coaches and teammates made for some terrific performances. There were many creative, well-skated programs in wonderful costumes, some made by the skaters. Highlights were Goldstar Club’s Joan McGrath and her interpretive triathlon program, Ice Edge member Denis LaRochelle who had the artistic skate of his career to Fever, Bobby Joe Donovan’s freeskate program to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue opening with a beautiful axel, Valleyview skater Cheyenne Irvine whose speed and footwork wowed us, and Kelsi Lemna from CalAlta who choreographed a wonderful mix of dancing styles in her interpretive skate. We saw program variety, creativity, heart and a passion for this sport. We were also the proud supporters of people who have had huge challenges in their lives from illness to personal loss. It takes great courage to stand on a rink alone and skate in front of your peers and judges.

A conversation from that day that sticks in my mind was the one I had with young Kelsi Lemna. When we talked about her program she said, “I really collaborated with my coach to create it. She supported me on all of my ideas.” And I think therein lies one of the great differences between youth and adult skating – the relationship you have with your coach. You are no longer a child but an equal in life. There is a different give and take between adults; you grow together as a team.

If you skated as a child, are a parent of a skater, or think you’d like to learn to figure skate, join us on the adult skating journey. You’ll meet new and interesting people, travel, and try things you never thought you would be able to do later in life.

All of the competitors wish to thank the Red Deer Skating Club for hosting such a well-organized event. The adults left with many wonderful memories from the day. We can’t wait to see each other again! There will be more to add to this story at Adult Nationals in Regina, SK March 28 – 30th. Looking forward to it!