Rachel Pettitt has done it again.
The Arctic Edge figure skater has set another high-water mark for Yukon on the national stage.
Pettitt won silver in novice women at the Skate Canada Challenge on Thursday in Montreal. Her second place result out of 54 skaters marks the best finish by a Yukon skater at the national competition. Pettitt set the previous best two years ago, taking fourth in pre-novice.
“I’m pretty excited. It feels really good,” said the 15-year-old. “It feels like I’m floating right now.
“It’s awesome to get a medal – my first medal from Challenge or Canadians. I feel great.”
For the silver, Pettitt skated to second in the short program and third in the long, securing a personal best combined score of 112.06.
“My short program was probably the best I’ve skated this year,” said Pettitt. “My coaches felt it was the best I’ve performed and skated.”
“I had to change one of my spins because of a slight (groin) injury, so it was a different spin and not (worth) as many points,” she added. “So that was new. It wasn’t a good new, but that’s OK.”
With her silver medal, Pettitt has qualified for her first National Skating Championships, taking place next month in Kingston, Ont. At the national championships Pettitt will attempt to become just the second Yukon skater to make the podium at the event that was first held in 1914. Whitehorse’s Matthew Powers won silver in junior men at nationals in 1991.
“I’m going to take a little break right now to favour my injury, get that all healed up,” said Pettitt. “Then I’m going to get back at it, training. I’ll have a little break during Christmas.”
Pettitt won’t be the only Yukon skater to take on the absolute best in Canada next month.
Whitehorse’s Bryn Hoffman and skating partner Bryce Chudak of Alberta placed fifth in junior pairs over the weekend at Challenge, qualifying for the championships in Kingston.
“I feel OK about it. We didn’t skate our best,” said Hoffman. “Our short was fairly good. There was one fall, but it was on a throw-triple and that was the first time I tried it in competition.
“Trying a throw-triple was a pretty big milestone for me because last year I got a pretty good concussion on my first attempt at it, so I haven’t really worked on it for a year. Obviously, now for nationals, my goal is to land it in a program.”
The Hoffman-Chudak team, who have been working together at a national training centre in Calgary for the last two seasons, placed fifth in the short and long, on Saturday and Sunday, for fifth out of 11 teams. They finished with a combined score of 103.82.
“We competed at Challenge last year, but at that point we weren’t ready to compete because we were a really new team and our elements weren’t ready, and we placed 12th,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman was also hoping to acquire a spot in the singles competition at next month’s nationals. However, 17-year-old placed 32nd out of 48 skaters in junior women, missing the cut.
“I was quite disappointed with my result in the singles, actually,” said Hoffman. “I didn’t skate my best, for sure. I was hoping to skate a lot better, and I was hoping to finish top 18 to qualify for singles at nationals this year. That was my goal, so I’m a little disappointed with that.”
Pettitt punched her ticket for Challenge with a silver performance at the B.C./Yukon Section Championships in November. With the silver Pettitt also took first in B.C. Skating’s season-long Pond to Podium Super Series, which takes a skater’s best three results from six specific competitions over the season. Pettitt was the first Yukon skater to win the Super Series competition in 2012.
The sections competition was also Yukon’s qualifying event for the Canada Winter Games this February in Prince George. Pettitt and Arctic Edge teammate Mikayla Kramer will be Yukon’s two skaters at the quadrennial Games.
It won’t be the first time they represent the territory at a major Games. Kramer represented Yukon at the Arctic Winter Games this past March in Fairbanks and placed sixth overall in Ladies 3 division.
Pettitt won two silver and a bronze for Yukon at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games. At the age of just 11, Pettitt also competed at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, taking 13th in pre-novice.
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