Eight of the territory’s top young figure skaters added a major event to their season schedule this weekend — by qualifying for the 2008 Arctic Winter Games.
The Arctic Edge Skating Club held the Games trials in conjunction with the annual Yukon Gold Nugget Championships over two days at Takhini Arena.
Twenty-eight skaters jumped and spun attempting to dazzle a panel of judges from Vancouver to determine the Yukon’s top skating talent.
Nikita White, Maddison Jarvis and Kayla Hallonquist swept each of their respective levels, to highlight the Gold Nugget competition.
The Arctic Games team, which has a minimum age of nine, allows for two skaters in each division, from Ladies I to Ladies IV. There is no male skating competition at the Arctics.
“It should be a pretty strong team,” said coach Lori Austin. “For some of our members like Amelia (Austin), this will be her third Games — and Teneil and Amelia both went to Canada Games — so they’ve got lots of experience.”
“We had a rebuilding year at the last Arctic Winter Games, so the kids have come along way,” said Sheri Blaker, Arctic Games figure skating mission staff member. “I expect they’ll come through and bring us home some medals.”
While the Arctics are a regional competition — they are also an international one. Skaters got a limited glimpse of the mysterious Russian team at the Kenai games in 2006, but they only competed in one division.
It’s unknown if the Russians will bring a full team to the 2008 event.
“It’s a bit of a wild card,” said Austin. “Definitely, the girls are capable of winning medals, but also, we don’t know what to expect with the Russians.”
Teneil Caron is an Arctics veteran.
The international flavor is part of the appeal, she said.
“I was only like, 10, but it was a lot of fun — I remember the Russian skaters, they couldn’t speak English, and they wanted to trade pins with us — we just had to shake our heads yes or no, and they gave us money — so I think I have some Russian money somewhere — like $1 or $2,” said Caron.
The Arctics run March 9-15 in Yellowknife.
This is long after most competitive skaters have completed their most important events of the skating season.
“It’s a huge motivator for the kids,” said Austin.
Austin added that although there are competitions through April, the focus of a competitive skater’s season is the BC/Yukon Sectional Championships in November, which can ultimately lead to Canadian nationals in January.
Only two Yukon skaters are moving on from this year’s sectionals — Kevin Caron and Michelle Gorczyca.
“For the competitive skaters, their big event is already over for the season, so it’s something to keep them going.”
The skaters will also have to tailor their routines for the Arctics’ requirements.
“I have to practice two programs now, because the (Games) elements are different, there are a few more in there, a jump sequence — that’s probably the hardest thing,” said Caron.
2008 Arctic Winter Games Team:
Maddison Jarvis, Maya Austin — Ladies I
Bryn Hoffman, Samantha Jarvis — Ladies II
Kayla Hallonquist, Jessica Hawkins — Ladies III
Teneil Caron, Amelia Austin — Ladies IV
Yukon Gold Nugget Championships
Amiee Lien — Special Olympics
Zoey Krause — Elementary elements
Dawn Bohmer — Elementary freeskate
Nikita White — Pre-preliminary elements and freeskate
Maddison Jarvis — Preliminary elements and freeskate
Maya Austin — Preliminary creative, Pre-introductory interpretive
Rachel Pettitt — Junior bronze elements, Introductory interpretive
Bryn Hoffman — Pre-juvenile freeskate
Kayla Hallonquist — Senior bronze elements, freeskate and creative
Teneil Caron — Gold interpretive