A figure skater can practise her axels all she wants, but she can’t practise dealing with the pressure of competing at a major event.
Some Yukon skaters felt that pressure at the Arctic Winter Games this week.
“We had a couple in the bottom half, but most of the girls skated really, really well,” said Yukon coach Charlene Donald. “The Level 2s could have had a better skate. They didn’t do bad at all. It’s the first Winter Games they’ve ever been to. As coaches, we want to prepare them both physically and mentally, but sometimes you can’t get the mental aspect across until you’re actually at the venue. I think nerves caught up to them.”
While the strain of a major competition hindered the performances of a few, some Yukoners skated like it was a practice back home in Whitehorse.
Yukon skaters took in seven top-10 finishes with two in the middle of the pack in the combined event on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Yukon’s Mikayla Kramer kept her nerves in check in the Ladies 3 competition. Kramer skated to sixth in the short and fifth in the free for sixth overall.
“This is her first Arctic Winter Games and she’s jumping right into Ladies 3 and she’s 11, so we’re very proud of her,” said Yukon coach Michelle Gorczyca. “She did very well and held her own. Most of the girls are twice her size.
“She’s our cool cucumber. She keeps it all composed.”
Teammates Morgan Madden and Kelcy Armstrong placed 10th and 11th, respectively, out of 11 skaters in Ladies 3.
“Our Ladies 3 did better than yesterday,” said Gorczyca on Wednesday. “I think all of them could have skated a bit better than they did.”
Yukon skater Landyn Blisner leapt up the standings on Wednesday in Ladies 1. Blisner placed 12th in the short program on Tuesday and moved all the way up to fifth after taking fifth in the free program. Blisner landed her double-salchow in competition for her first time.
Yukoners Meghan Birmingham and Tessa Moore came ninth and 10th, respectively, out of 12 skaters. Moore was eighth in the short program and Birmingham ninth.
“Meghan and Tessa more just learned their axel last week and both of them landed it in competition today, so they were pretty pumped,” said Donald.
Yukon’s Janelle Clethero skated to eighth in Ladies 2 combined event. Teammate Kayla Armstrong placed 10th out of 10 but was ninth in the short program.
Kelcy Armstrong is the only skater of the eight Yukoners with previous Games experience. She competed at the 2012 Games in Whitehorse, placing fourth in the Ladies 3 free program. She also competed at the 2010 Arctic Games in Grande Prairie, Alta., taking fourth overall in the Ladies 1 division.
“We have a whole new team this year, except for Kelcy,” said Gorczyca. “So they’re all newbies. So they don’t know what to expect, they don’t know the calibre of skating either. I think this week has been a bit of an eye-opener for them. So I think they’ll go home more motivated than when they came.
“So hopefully at the next Arctic Winter Games they’ll know a little bit more of what to expect and how to prepare.”
All eight are members of Whitehorse’s Arctic Edge Skating Club. Figure skating at the Arctic Games wrapped up with the team event on Thursday. Results were not available by press time.
Contact Tom Patrick at