Figure skating club ready to glide into season

In a typical year, Fort St. John Figure Skating Club skaters would be preparing to lace up their skates and shake off the rust in a week's time for their two-week summer school. But as this year has been anything but typical, the school has been cancelled and the club won't begin skating until the Pomeroy Sport Centre opens September 8. 

There will be a figure skating season, that much is known. The club has developed a return-to-play plan under the guidelines put out by Skate Canada and Skate B.C., and the City of Fort St. John, and is currently waiting word from the city on its ice-time requests for the 2020-21 season. However, it remains to be seen if there will be any events for skaters to compete in this year. 

The club will be limitted to having only 30 skaters on the ice at any one time, which includes coaches and assistants, and only 50 people in the building — whether that's the Pomeroy or the North Peace Arena — at a time. The club often has 60 skaters practicing at once for its CanSkate and Pre-Star programs, so the smaller group will be a sizeable difference. As well, theere will be no hands-on coaching or instruction involved. 

"As coaches we often do a lot of hands-on work with our skaters, whether that's correcting their positioning or path, so we'll need to put a different spin on how we do things," skating coach Jen Hammond said. 

Due to the 30 skater limit, the club is having to hold extra skate sessions, which may result in fewer ice times a week per skater, though those decisions will be made once the ice-times and schedules are developed. Regardless, Hammond said she's expecting a similar amount of members this year, despite losing a few who have moved with their families over the summer. 

"It's been a really long summer, and I and the other coaches are really excited to get back to it, and the kids are especially excited about getting back on the ice and doing what they love," Hammond said. "The sooner we can get back out there and living a healthy and active lifestyle the better."

So far, there are no skating events and competitions planned for the fall and winter, though that can change. 

"It will be quite the disappointment if competitions are cancelled. Skaters train hard all year for a four-minute program, and without any competitions a program won't be necessary and it will be a different season," Hammond said. "The skaters will still have Star tests they will work on, and we may have to shift our program to focus more speficially on tests and skill requirements."

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