Arctic Edge skaters land in top 10 at Sectionals

Four Arctic Edge skaters were in top form for the biggest competition of the season in Kelowna, BC, over the weekend. Michelle Gorczyca, Rachel Pettitt, Bryn Hoffman and Amelia Austin gave strong performances.

Four Arctic Edge skaters were in top form for the biggest competition of the season in Kelowna, BC, over the weekend.

Michelle Gorczyca, Rachel Pettitt, Bryn Hoffman and Amelia Austin gave strong performances to capture top-10 results at the Skate Canada’s BC/YT Sectional Championships. It’s the best the club has done at the competition as a whole.

“For two Arctic Edge skaters to place in the top 10 out of 61 girls in that event is huge. It’s fantastic,” said Arctic Edge skater and coach Michelle Gorczyca of Pettitt and Hoffman. “It’s a really big deal. With the size of our town, it was really nice to see that take place.”

Skating in the pre-novice women’s division for the first time at Sectionals, Arctic Edge’s Rachel Pettitt finished seventh and Bryn Hoffman ninth.

Pettitt, 12, a first-year pre-novice, scored 27.68 in the short program for sixth, 49.07 in the long for sixth, finishing with a score of 76.75.

“I was very happy with my programs,” said Pettitt. “I had personal bests in both of them. I was a little disappointed with my short, I had a little mistake in one of my easiest jumps in my program – I had a touch down – but I was still happy.

“In my long, I feel like I couldn’t have skated it any better. I landed the hardest jump in the program – my double-axel, double toe – and I landed all the rest of my combination jumps.”

Hoffman took 10th in the short program with a 26.17 and eighth in the long with a 47.85, scoring 74.02 overall.

“I was happy with both programs, but I was especially happy with my long program because it was only the second time I competed with that program,” said Hoffman. “I was pretty happy with how I competed.”

In the long program, “I landed everything, but my double-axel was under rotated, so I didn’t get credit for that,” she added.

Making their results all the more remarkable is the limited ice-time the club has been held to, resulting from the June 24 fire at the Canada Games Centre that delayed the opening of two of Whitehorse’s three rinks. Compared to previous season, the club’s ice-time was cut in half leading up to the Sectionals.

“(Hoffman) had two great performances and she recently came back from a concussion, so she was off the ice for two-and-a-half weeks at the end of September, early October,” said Gorczyca. “So I’m really proud of how well she did considering the lack of ice (time) and her injury – she really bounced back.”

Austin skated to 10th in the short program and eighth in the long to finish 10th in the junior ladies division.

“In my opinion, my performance was really good,” said Austin. “I skated two pretty clean performances and was happy to perform well.

“Unfortunately the score didn’t exactly reflect how well I skated, but I was happy with how I did.”

Austin, 19, travelled to the competition from Montreal, where she’s studying at McGill University and trains at the same club as Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette.

Last season, Austin took up pairs skating but is focused back on singles this year.

“I was very calm and relaxed and focused,” said Austin. “That’s a big improvement because I used to be really nervous and cautious. And I’d be shaky on the ice because I was nervous. This time, I was smooth and had good spins, jumps and footwork.”

Despite having coaching duties in addition to her own competition, Gorczyca took sixth in the short and long for sixth overall in the senior ladies division.

“I was very happy with the way the weekend went considering a few different factors,” said Gorczyca. “The lack of ice (time) we’ve had because of the fire at the Games Centre – so I was only training about four hours per week. The girls that I competed against in Kelowna would probably do that in a day-and-a-half, so it’s a big difference.”

The Sectionals were Pettitt’s third competition of the season and Hoffman’s second.

In SummerSkate in Burnaby, BC, in August, Pettitt finished ninth in pre-novice and Hoffman 16th.

Last month in the Autumn Leaves Competition in Kamloops, BC, Pettitt finished eighth. (Arctic Edge teammate Kelcy Armstrong won a gold in the introductory interpretive event and finished 10th in the senior bronze ladies.)

Pettitt and Hoffman will be back on the ice for the Yukon Gold Nugget Championships on December 3 and 4 at Takhini Arena. The event will double as the trials for the Arctic Winter Games next March in Whitehorse.

In her first Arctic Winter Games in 2008, Hoffman finished third in Ladies 2 and two years later won gold in Ladies 3 in 2010.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com