Clubs skating off the rust

The region's figure skating clubs had a slightly later start to the season than normal, but both the Fort St. John Figure Skating Club and Peace Passage Skating Club have skated off the rust early on and are gliding into full gear.

Both clubs started skating at the Pomeroy Sport Centre mid-September, but would normally begin skating late-August. Peace Passage has since moved over to the Taylor Arena, its usual home, while the Figure Skating Club is still at the Pomeroy until the North Peace Arena reopens for use, likely at the start of November. 

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"Everything is going really well, the skaters look like they haven't been off the ice for six months," joked Peace Passage skating coach Amanda Thomas. "I expected a bit more problems getting going, but everyone is glad to be back out there on the ice."

The Figure Skating Club's Star program skaters are back practicing their jumps and routines as often as they can get on the ice. 

"It's definitely different. It can be hard to find that motivation (with no competitions planned), but everyone is finally back on the ice so it's new and exciting," said FSJFSC coach Jen Hammond. 

The actual skating practices look much the same. Masks aren't required, though Peace Passage is having its instructors wear them around beginner-age kids.

However, one thing that's different is the number of skaters that can be on the ice at one time.

To comply with social distancing measures, both clubs are capping their ice times to only 20-to-30 skaters, meaning more ice times are needed. This means some clubs can't yet run all of their normal options, and skaters have less hours on the ice per week. However, it does have the unintentional benefit of skaters receiving more direct coaching from instructors. 

Figure skater Emma Eggimann said the sanitizing rules and off-ice distancing rules, such as in dressing rooms and when lacing up skates, toom some time to get used to, but it's nice just to have the option of skating again. 

"It's different because we won't be competing a lot, but it gives our coaches more time to work on our new programs and technique. It's harder to find motivation, but if there's any kind of skating or activity we can do, then we're happy with it," Eggimann said. 

Though there are no figure skating competitions currently planned for the Peace Region, FSJFSC skater Sophie Stevens will be competing at least once this year.

Stevens, along with Hammond and other instructors, will be heading to Vancouver next week for the annual Autumn Leaves competition. This year's event is limited to competitive skaters only, but will take place over four days instead of one weekend.

Hammond said she's hoping Stevens will be able to compete at provincials later in the season as well. 

For both clubs, skating this year looks a little different. However, when everyone is on the ice, it also looks exactly the same.

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca.

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