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Skating club returning to ice after Strathcona Gardens reopening

Club has faced its share of challenges over last few months
A figure skater practices at Strathcona Gardens. Photo courtesy Rory Allen.

The Campbell River Skating Club is looking to rebound after being forced off the ice by the SRD labour dispute and having its competitions cancelled due to weather and COVID-19.

With the SRD labour dispute resulting in the prolonged closure of Strathcona Gardens, where the club practices, skaters were forced off the ice for 81 days, said Rory Allen, the club’s director of programs.

“It’s been a long haul for everybody, physically and emotionally,” said Allen.

Allen welcomed the news of the facility’s reopening with “massive relief.”

“We’re nothing but thrilled,’ he said. “To be honest, many of us thought the season was over.”

The club is now moving to restart its programming, starting Feb. 7. Registration is now open and has proved popular so far.

“The eagerness from the community has been unbelievable,” he said.

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The club is first working to “salvage” a season over the next six weeks, which will end around spring break. After that, assuming the ice stays in through the May long weekend, the club will offer learn to skate, CanSkate, and CanPowerSkate programs.

“CanSkate is sort of our primary objective to fill out, because that’s how you get new members,” said Allen. “You want to get them engaged, hopefully for a lifelong commitment into skating.”

The club was also challenged by cancellations of its figure skating competitions, first due to the heavy storms and flooding of November 2021.

“We had everyone registered, we were all geared up, and pushed hard to get ready,” he said. “But then the Malahat closed, so it was cancelled.”

Then regionals, scheduled for last month, were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s just been one nonstop discouragement after another,” he said.

But now the club’s figure skaters are looking ahead to a new competition, held March 18 to 20 in Victoria.

“They haven’t had a competition in over two years now,” said Allen. “Kids thrive off opportunities to perform.”

With the 2022 Winter Olympics now underway, it is the perfect time for people — both young and old — to become interested in skating, said Allen.

“The Olympics are a great springboard to showcase all the great things sport does for our society,” he said. “It helps kids get excited about athleticism, get inspired, and think about the opportunities that are out there.”

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