Sixteen-year-old Kevin Caron dreams of skating in the 2010 Olympics.
After watching him leap and glide around the Canada Games Centre’s ice, it’s easy to believe that his dream could come true.
He has an arsenal of tricks whose names sound like something you’d associate with a roller-coaster, not a figure-skating show.
There’s the death drop, a dangerous-looking feat in which Caron changed skates in mid-leap.
There’s the corkscrew, in which Caron spun like a top in one spot so quickly it looked as if he drilled a hole through the ice.
There’s the pretzel, a one-footed spin that looked as twisted as it sounds.
And then there are the jumps — the double and even triple Lutzes and loops.
Caron’s also got a team of people working on his programs: his Vancouver-based coach, a choreographer and a footwork expert.
But before he sets his sights on the Olympic podium, Caron will be one of a quartet of skaters representing the Yukon at the upcoming Canada Winter Games.
On Tuesday afternoon the group was up at the Games centre working through their routines
When Teneil Caron, Kevin’s 14-year-old sister and Games’ teammate, skated by it was easy to see that she’s a dancer at heart, choosing dramatic hand gestures and hip wiggles in favour of the bigger leaps and spins.
Sixteen-year-old Chantal Emond is a natural performer with seemingly boundless energy.
Millie Austin, the fourth Games’-bound Yukoner, skated confidently around the rink, but was shy to comment on her skills.
“They are all very different skaters,” said co-coach Lori Austin.
“Kevin and Teneil are very outgoing, confident skaters; they’re charismatic and they’re there to entertain the crowd,” Austin added.
“Millie is graceful and refined and a little bit shy.
“And Chantal is a skilled skater with great spins and great edges.”
Both the skaters and their families have made sacrifices to compete at the high level.
“They’re all giving up something,” said Kevin and Teneil’s mother Maureen.
To prepare for the Games, the skaters are missing two periods of school per day.
And the road hasn’t been smooth for the Yukon’s only male figure skater.
When he was eight, Kevin chose figure skating over hockey and, as the only male skater, his friends used to give him a hard time about picking up the sport.
“They used to, but then I’d show them a jump and they’d leave me alone,” he says with a smile.
It’s tough to get a high level of coaching in the Yukon, so Kevin travels to Vancouver about once a month for training and competition.
In two weeks, the skaters will head to BC for a week of intense training, then they’ll take to the ice for the Games, where Kevin will skate in the men’s pre-novice level, Teneil in the women’s novice and Emond and Austin in the women’s pre-novice.
“It’s a tiny bit nerve-wracking because it’s in our hometown and people we know will come and watch,” Emond says of the upcoming Games.
Despite the flurry, fanfare and the pull of the podium, the part of the Games that gets Teneil and Emond most excited has nothing to do with skate blades or ice rinks.
They’re looking forward to meeting the competitors from across the country and trading their Yukon pins.
“I think I’ll do OK,” Teneil says of the competition. “But I don’t really care because it will be fun,” she quickly adds.