(January 29, 2009) – Skate Canada is pleased to celebrate the 25th year of the only national learn-to-skate program.  The program, which has been sponsored by BMO for the last seven years, has been teaching Canadians how to lace up and hit the ice from St. John’s to Victoria!

In the 1960’s, the concept of grassroots learn-to-skate programming was born through the Canadian Figure Skating Association.  Several programs were developed and operated simultaneously.  The launch of the 1983/84 season changed all that when the best of the best from each program was amalgamated into one flagship learn-to-skate masterpiece! CanSkate is designed for beginners of all ages and focuses on fun, participation and basic skill development. Skaters learn in groups that are led by NCCP certified professional coaches. Skaters are encouraged to progress at their own pace and coaches make sessions active by using teaching aids, music and a wide variety of activities that create a fun environment and promote learning.

CanSkate was first introduced in the 1983/84 season as a way to get more Canadians involved in skating. The program is not just for figure skaters. Many hockey players, ringette players and speed skaters have been through, and continue to use CanSkate as a stepping stone to achieving their goals.

Not convinced?  CanSkate helped gold medal winner Cody Hodgson in his career.  His hockey career began in CanSkate and so far he has been drafted 10th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks and has a gold medal from the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships!

Thanks to national support from our Skate Canada family and title sponsor BMO, the grassroots of skating continues to thrive and produce fun times and defining moments for all involved.  “Understanding the importance of keeping a Canadian tradition alive and supporting the dreams and development of Canada’s future skating stars, BMO expanded its commitment with Skate  Canada in 1998 by becoming the presenting sponsor of CanSkate,” said Sandy Bourne, Vice-President Advertising, Sponsorship, Corporate Events and Merchandising, BMO Financial Group.

The 2008 Canadian Champions Joannie Rochette and Patrick Chan have also been heard talking about their early starts in CanSkate. “I remember doing games on the ice with the other kids, but I was always serious about skating,” said Rochette. “I had high aspirations so you could usually find me in a corner alone practicing my elements to pass the next level.”

You may not be surprised, but many other present and former Canadian figure skaters began their skating journey in CanSkate! Some familiar names include; 2008 World Champion Jeff Buttle, Mira Leung, Lesley Hawker, Craig Buntin, Vaughn Chipeur, Jeremy Ten, Ian Martinez and Paul Poirier.

CanSkate is here to stay, thanks to its popularity and your execution of it!  If you are a member, log into our Members Only section to download our special 25th anniversary colouring sheets!  We’d love to hear how you keep your CanSkaters smiling on the ice.  Send in your special CanSkate moments or completed colouring sheets; we’d love to feature them. Canskate25@skatecanada.ca is the place to send them in; keep them coming!

CanSkate in action
Canadian Champion Patrick Chan
Canadian Champion Joannie Rochette
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