Skater Aitken golden in Taylor


Sixteen-year old Halla Aitken is close to being the Peace Passage Figure Skating Club's first skater to achieve all four gold levels.

After achieving her third gold level in Chetwynd last weekend, Aitken has roughly two more years to pass her final test day and get her free skate gold level. Having her skills and interpretive gold levels already, Aitken passed her fourth dance test to get her gold level in that category as well last weekend.

"I was really excited when I passed it," she said from the Taylor District Ice Centre on Monday. "I don't know if I was expecting to, but I was really happy."

"I have a year and a half left to skate, so hopefully I get [my free skate gold level]. I really hope."

Aitken's coach Janice Gibos has been training Aitken for nine years, and thinks the young skater has the potential to get her fourth gold level, maybe even by the spring of 2014.

"She's still got another couple years of skating and she works hard," Gibos said. "She's super determined and probably one of the hardest workers we've had in a few years. I can see that she's very close already."

"She's the first one that has shown enough potential and still has enough time in skating [to get all four]," she added, explaining how most figure skaters stop taking test days once they graduate high school. "She's the first one that has gotten to it soon enough."

A big part of Aitken's success at her last test day was the skating club's addition of dance coach Rick Copeland who moved to Fort St. John from Toronto less than three months ago.

"The last test day we went to five weeks ago, it was a totally different dance. She was 100 per cent better this time, so she's worked really hard and it's really helped having Rick our new dance partner here," Gibos said. "Usually they practice the dance by themselves, then [at test days] we'll have a dance partner come in and practice for 15 minutes, but lots of time you just get a two minute warm up then you test. For lower dances that works, but for higher ones you're partnering someone, you're not by yourself, they're pushing you around and it's really hard.

"Having him and being able to practice with him a few times a week makes a huge difference," she added. "He's a very skilled dance coach, and that's not my super strong area, so it's perfect because I do more of the technical free skate and he's a real dance coach."

Aitken believes having Copeland practice with her is why she passed her final dance test.

"He was my partner and he helped a lot," she said. "He comes on Sundays and Fridays and he's really helped all of us get a lot better with our edges and stuff.

"You don't get to practice much with the partner that comes from far away, so it's really nice to practice with a partner on a weekly basis."

To celebrate Aitken's third gold level, the Peace Passage Figure Skating Club threw her a little party at the District Ice Centre on Monday, where they updated her photo on the Gold Levels Wall of Fame, presented her with flowers and a gift, then ate cake to celebrate.

"It's so nice. They do it for everyone who gets a gold level," Aitken said. "They have a little party, we get a gift and there's a wall that has our pictures on it."

Aitken added how grateful she is to her coaches Gibos and Copeland, and is hoping to one day give back to figure skating like they have by coaching once she's finished college.

Her coach, in the meantime, isn't looking that far ahead - in fact, she's just looking to the spring, which is when she thinks Aitken will achieve her fourth and final gold level.

"I'm really proud of her," Gibos said, "And I can't wait for her to be my first quadruple golder."

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