With 228 skaters from 15 figure skating clubs all across the Island, Strathcona Gardens was a frenzy of activity this weekend as Rod Brind’Amour Arena played host to the Vancouver Island Interclub Figure Skating Competition for the first time in nine years.
“We have a very small club,” skating club president Sue Smith says, “so I would guess the only reason we haven’t hosted it in nine years is because it’s such a big job and they just decided not to take it on.”
But while it may have been a ton of work to put the three-day event on, Smith says, it was well worth it in the end.
“We have to put a bid into the region by the end of December to say we want to host it, and then there’s a vote at the annual general meeting in Nanaimo in April,” Smith says. “So we only found out in April that we were awarded the event, which gave us just over six months to plan, which was tight.”
While six months of planning may sound like a lot, it flies by really quickly, Smith says. Before you know it, it’s the day the event is starting and you’re not sure if you’ll pull it off.
“I had a core group of seven of us, and we met every two weeks since April and went down the list and did everything systematically,” Smith says, “but I gotta say, I was at the rink on Friday and it was 12:30 and I thought, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to be ready. But at 2:30 I looked around at everyone and said, ‘Oh my God, we’re actually ready,’” she says with a laugh.
It was an amazing feat, Smith says, that was accomplished in large part by the surrounding community.
“We had several businesses in town that were fantastic and supported us with either monetary sponsorship or with products that we could use for our raffles,” Smith says. Unfortunately, most businesses allocate their annual sponsorship and other supports early each year, before the club even knew they would be hosting the event. “Although April doesn’t sound late in the year, we ran into that a few times,” Smith says, “but we did have some amazing sponsors throughout the community.”
They also got a ton of help from the Carihi Leadership program, the Strathcona Regional District and the staff of Strathcona Gardens itself.
“Everyone was phenomenal,” Smith says. “All day Friday they were moving things around and helping in any way they could – we even had to bring in an electrician at one point – and nobody skipped a beat. And those kids from Carihi Leadership were amazing. They were polite, they were eager, they offered to stay longer, and it was very encouraging to see from our young people. We couldn’t have done it without them.
“It was amazing,” Smith says. “It was a three-day competition that ran on time for the entire three days, and we’ve had extremely positive feedback from visiting officials, visiting coaching staff, as well as the parents and families that were there, to the point where I had one of the officials who is high up in the region say to me, ‘I haven’t been to a competition where the stands have been this full in a long time.’ So we’ll take that.”
To top it off, the local team had a great showing while hosting the event, as well.
Heidi Schulte got things started for the Campbell River team by winning the bronze medal in the Star 4 Girls 13+ event Friday evening.
Then on Saturday, Star 3 skaters Katiana McCune and Emily Peters took silver and bronze, respectively before four more Campbell River skaters took home ribbons on Sunday.
Olivia Vardy took the bronze in Star 1 Group 3, Taryn Latrace won silver in Star 2 Group 2, Ayla Bruce won bronze in Star 2 Group 1 and Stephanie Watts took the bronze in Star 2 Group 3.
In terms of what’s next for the competitive skaters, Smith says, “they’re back on the ice taking it a bit easy this week, but also getting ready for the next competition which is the Vancouver Island Regionals in February, and then we have the Vancouver Island Super Series in Parksville in April.”
And as always, the club will be back at Rod Brind’Amour arena for its annual gala on March 9, “where we will thank the community for their support and show them what their support has meant to our girls.”
You can find more information about the club online at campbellriverskatingclub.com