Skate Canada and The Mark Lowry Memorial Sport Excellence Fund Committed to Leading Edge Sport Science Initiatives

OTTAWA, ON: As part of Skate Canada’s strategic plan, the high performance program has set sights on integrating leading edge sport science into the training and monitoring of Canada’s top figure skaters. The Mark Lowry Memorial Sport Excellence Fund has allowed Skate Canada to work on motion analysis, one of the sport sciences being integrated through a generous grant.

The Mark Lowry Memorial Sport Excellence Fund is an influential leader in high performance sport in Canada, which works off Lowry’s original vision: To allow our athletes to have the very best in all aspects of their training.

Integrating full motion analysis in figure skating without losing the important intricacies of choreography and musicality has meant challenging the science beyond that typically used in other sports. The funds provided by the foundation will allow key aspects of full-rink motion analysis to be completed so that Canadian athletes can access the best motion analysis. The new initiative will be available at the Skate Canada National Performance Centre in Toronto as early as October of 2015.

Monica Lockie, National Performance Centre Director has highlighted the importance of this technology being available as a service at the centres, “As our skaters aspire to maintain their top ranking in the world, it is essential to be able to give them as many advantages as possible in their training. Using a state of the art motion analysis system will allow our skaters to evaluate more key performance indicators to hone their technique both at the top level and on the development pathway. Being able to offer this service at our National Performance Centres is ideal for athlete growth in the in the critical area of motion analysis.”

Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk stressed the importance of this new technology, “Giving our athletes valuable feedback through the motion analysis system will be critical in the success of our program leading into the 2018 and Olympic Winter Games and our next generation athletes striving for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and beyond. We are thankful for the support of the Mark Lowry Memorial Sport Excellence Fund and look forward to seeing this program come to fruition.”

Skate Canada also wishes to acknowledge the continuing support of outstanding partners like Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), and Own the Podium (OTP) with whom we strive together for excellence in high performance.

Kraatz honoured for his impact in Canadian Sport

Victor Kraatz hadn’t expected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the British Columbia/Yukon skating section on May 2. The memories fluttered back from long, long ago. It was a great honour.

In recent years, he’s been out of the loop. He’d moved on, left figure skating behind. He hasn’t set foot in a figure skating rink in about 2 and a half years, since he began teaching skating skills to young hockey players all over the lower mainland of British Columbia.

But the glittery Hall of Fame night came, the crowd gave Kraatz a standing ovation, and of course, everyone had to watch a video of Kraatz and partner Shae-Lynn Bourne, in green garb, skating to their signature routine, the high-energy “Riverdance” from the 1997-1998 season.

Kraatz’s 4-year-old son, Henry, tugged at his father’s sleeve and said: “That’s not Mommie. Who is that woman?”

Kraatz is married to former Finnish ice dancer Maikki Uotila, and has two sons, Oliver, 8 and Henry. ”My oldest understands that there was a figure skating background of some sort,” Kraatz said. “And that I may have accomplished something. He’s not quite sure.”

“But the little guy just thinks I play hockey. That’s all he’s known of me. I coach hockey. I work with kids all the time. I’m on the go, so the little guy was really confused.”

Kraatz’s new world doesn’t necessarily realize that he was a 10-time Canadian ice dancing champion with Bourne, a three-time Olympian, and a world champion in 2003. And that this unforgettable duo brought hydroblading to the vocabulary of skating, that they dared to be different with their Riverdance routine, in which they transferred a stationary dance to the glide of the blade with blinding footwork.

On learning of his induction, Kraatz’s mind immediately went to the people who had input into his skating career and his life.

Born in Germany, Kraatz started out as a hockey player when his family lived in Switzerland. But that all ended when a coach bluntly told him that he was too short. “You’re done,” he was told.

He learned his first skating skills with former Swiss pair champions Mona and Peter Szabo, who taught him the fundamentals and all sorts of caring life lessons. Kraatz moved to Vancouver at age 15, and coach Joanne Sloman played a major role in teaching extra skills sessions. Kraatz invited her to the Hall of Fame ceremonies.

During the early 1990s, Kraatz moved to Montreal to train with Eric Gillies and Josee Picard, also instrumental in his career.  He loved Picard’s tough work ethic. “I liked her style and I liked who she was as a person. I really respected her,” Kraatz said. It was tough for him to leave, he said.

A relationship with Uschi Keszler, was also important: she was “relentless” in having he and Bourne show communication between the two and that they remain true to themselves. Tatiana Tarasova took the team to a new level.

Most of all, there was Bourne, who Kraatz called the most important person in his life at the time. They were completely different people, Kraatz found. “I just loved the freedom that she had,” Kraatz said. “There were no boundaries. She wanted to experience the joy of life. And I was very set.

“She would always say: ‘Let’s have fun.’ And I would go: ‘No, fun in German means just not working hard. Fun is fun. And work has to be work.’ She’d say: ‘Canadian fun means just enjoying it.’ For the longest time, I never understood that having-fun part of training.”

By their final year together, Bourne’s life force rubbed off on Kraatz. Kraatz learned to trust his training and relax. It worked.

But it all ended a short time after Bourne and Kraatz won the world title. Today, Kraatz acknowledges that the breakup of the team was his fault. He had been so driven to work, even on breaks and vacations; he’d head straight to the gym. “I personally did not have the release,” he said. “I never wanted to be out of shape. I always wanted to be on the top of my game, because that’s who I wanted to be.”  Things fell apart.

Today, Kraatz has huge admiration for Bourne, who has made a career of being a world-class choreographer. “She was such a wonderful person,” Kraatz said. “It’s unbelievable what she brought to the table. I was very lucky that I skated with her, that I was able to spend that much time with her. We always had a great professional relationship and I’m so grateful for that.”

In 2003, Kraatz needed something else. He moved back to Vancouver, and taught skating for a while. But to truly forge his own path, he went to school and studied marketing. But it wasn’t easy, when all of his credentials were as an athlete. He found work at a marketing agency in Yaletown, when one day his life changed on a fluke. A friend told Kraatz he was going on a break and could he look after his hockey team? Sure, said Kraatz and promptly went out and bought hockey skates, a helmet, a stick and a puck.

His first session with the hockey players “went really horrible,” Kraatz said. But the coach said: “We want you back. You’ve got to come back tomorrow.” About 2 and a half years ago, Kraatz decided to ditch the marketing career for the open arms of hockey.

These days, Kraatz moves with ease in his new life. It allows him to contribute, to create. He has some 6-year-olds that are doing well. He has some teenagers. He has a player who was on the roster for a Junior A team in Kelowna. Like Szabo, Kraatz tries to teach life lessons to his young charges. And he has gone back to the gym, to meet the increasing physical demands of his new work.

“I’ve come full circle,” Kraatz said. ”It’s something as a kid I always wanted to do and I didn’t have the chance to do it.” When he pulled the hockey skates on, all of his muscle memory came back from his teens. The boots felt light.

He feels like he used to when he was a figure skater: he wakes up every morning and it doesn’t matter if he feels tired. He also feels energized. “That feeling is back,” Kraatz said. “I’m finally back. I’m finding myself. I am myself again.”

It’s been a long road for Kraatz.

Jeremy Ten on his own terms

Click click. Click. Click…Send.

And with that, listening to the sound of the ocean on vacation in Mexico with his skating friends, Jeremy Ten finally wrote the end to his competitive skating career, telling Skate Canada by email that he was ending his miraculous final season on a high note.

Yes, Ten has retired, after a marvelous season in which he exceeded all expectations. Contemplating retirement a year earlier after missing the Sochi Olympic team, Ten finally decided to take one more year to skate the way he wanted to with certain goals: to get a quad in his arsenal, to get a Grand Prix (he got two) and to show up at nationals in front of noisy Canadian fans, attack his programs and skate with his heart on his sleeve. And he did.

But the season went so well – he earned the Canadian silver medal and a trip to the his second world championships after a five-year hiatus, and to the World Team Trophy, an event he had always wanted to do – that he felt the urge to continue, do more of this.

“There was a part of me that said: ‘Oh just do one more year, really have fun with it, keep going,’” Ten said. And then he thought about the welfare of his 26-year-old body. And reason reigned.

“I thought about the state of my physical being,” Ten said. “I just knew it wouldn’t work. Trying to learn a quad at my age, when you’re competing against kids who have been doing it since they were 17 or 18, and didn’t have to go through injuries, it takes a toll.”

Ten did get his quad at a stately age, during this past season (delayed because of a few seasons of serious injuries) and it came far more easily than his triple Axel. In fact, it was a lovely one, and he could do it with a triple toe loop in practice. But doing it in a competition setting was another story. During the six-minute warm-ups for Nationals, Four Continents and World Championships, he took hard falls to his left hip while attempting the quad. Always that left hip.

The jump was still new, and the smallest detail could throw it off kilter. Throw in a little adrenalin and a pumping heart in a compressed time frame of a warmup and down he went. While training the quad, he had never fallen like that.

“It’s one of those falls where you land sideways on your blade and you don’t know where you are, and you come down and you smack your hip on the ice,” he said. “As the season progressed, it was starting to bother me more and more.”

After a hard fall in the warm-up for the long program at Nationals, coach Joanne McLeod came up to Ten and told him: ‘We went to Autumn Classic without a quad and you did great there. I don’t think you should do it here.”

But Ten had trained all season to get that quad and he wanted to stick to the plan. He fell on it during the long program. Still, his performance was a triumph. When his marks came up, he saw that he was second in the free, and then he saw that he was first overall (with Nam Nguyen still to skate). “I thought I misheard it,” he said. “And then I saw the screen and then I just dropped everything. I think I threw my water bottle at one point.” McLeod burst into tears into his chest. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she said. Their reaction to Ten’s achievement was some of the best theatre of the event.

Ten’s best attempt at landing the quad was at NHK Trophy in Japan. At worlds and Four Continents the warm-up falls on the quad bothered him more. And he started to feel the wear and tear on his body. “I do want to walk in the near future,” he said. “I don’t want to get hip surgery before I’m 30.”

And the falls rattled him a bit, especially at the World Championships, because it was such an important event. He took out the quad for World Team Trophy, an event he said was “the funnest competition I’ve ever done.”

His short program – clean – at the World Championships in Shanghai was a triumph. “This whole season was about me trying to live out my potential and I feel that going to worlds and skating that short program was it for me,” Ten said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to do. And that made it easier.”

Just because Ten is leaving behind his competitive career doesn’t mean he will be standing still. On Friday, June 12, Ten graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in health sciences and a minor in kinesiology.

He’s currently dabbling in choreography, with hopes his career will head in that direction. He feels music and enjoys it and his forte was his artistic side. Ten is also coaching on the side, doing clinics, workshops and seminars. Last weekend, he did a seminar for the Alberta Provincial Team. A few weeks ago, he did another one in Canmore, Alta. and before that, he travelled to New Brunswick to offer up his knowledge there. He’s trying to book some shows, too.

“It’s time to grow up,” he said. He leaves the competitive side of the sport with no regrets now. He feels that he’s in a happy place and has a lot of opportunities coming his way. “I feel like I’m leaving the sport because it’s my choice and not because I’m being pushed out of the sport,” he said.

Canadian Silver Medallist Jeremy Ten Retires from Competitive Skating

OTTAWA, ON: Three-time Canadian medallist Jeremy Ten, 26, Vancouver, B.C., announced his retirement from competitive skating today. Ten has competed internationally for Canada for 11 years. He is a three-time national team member, two-time world team member in 2009 and 2015, and is also a two-time Canadian junior medallist, winning the junior Canadian title in 2007.

“It was an honour and privilege this past season to represent Canada at my second world championships as the reigning Canadian silver medallist. I would like to thank Skate Canada for all their support and for giving me the opportunity to compete on the international stage for the last 11 years,” said Ten. “I couldn’t be more grateful for all the life experiences you can only learn while travelling the world, competing against the best in the world, and being a Canadian athlete.”

“Jeremy has been a big part of the Canadian skating scene for over a decade including representing Canada at two world championships,” said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada High Performance Director. “Skate Canada wishes Jeremy the best of luck in his next chapter and we look forward to seeing him staying involved in other capacities.”

Today Ten graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences and minor in Kinesiology. Ten plans on staying involved in the sport as much as possible by exploring his options as a coach, focusing on choreography, as well as possibly getting involved in judging as a caller.

Chan Tapping His Way Back To The Top

The first sight of three-time world champion Patrick Chan in comeback mode after a year off was this: performing to “Mack the Knife” in a chilly Vaughan arena, his opening pass was a wonder, with his patented big strokes, a big hop, his body flying, his arms spread out and up. He filled the rink with that opening pass. It was as if he was announcing, with his body movement: “Here I am. It’s me. I’m back.”

And back with a difference.

How so? He’s skating to vocals for the first time, competitively. He’s bringing what he learned from his year of skating in a flurry of about 40 shows, night after night. He’s more engaged with the audience than ever. He’s found a new charisma. He’s left behind the intensity of being intense, not that he won’t be. But he’ll skate for the love of it this year. He’ll see where his hard work takes him. And he’ll train differently, with more confidence, smarter, preserving that soon-to-be 25-year-old body, one of the oldest out there these days.

“He’s going to make this big comeback,” said choreographer David Wilson. “I’ve got to hand it to him. It takes a lot of courage for him to do it, but he seems really keen.”

Chan admits that the seeds of his comeback were planted at the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, when the Russians handed off the Olympic mantle to South Korea. “I was thinking in my mind: ‘I don’t want this to end,’” Chan recalled. “’I don’t feel this is a good ending. It’s the end of a chapter, but I want to begin a new one.’”

He doesn’t know, truthfully, if he’ll continue to 2018. He’ll take it one year at a time. But it’s the ultimate intent. He never knows what will happen. Now, he has to pay attention to recovery. The body takes a beating in this sport. “I want to conserve my body, so that when I go to a competition, I can really be fresh and keep up with the young guys,” he said.

Most of all, he wants to leave a mark on the sport, and this season, hopefully “a breath of fresh air.” He’ll do that with his new “Mack the Knife” routine, which is meant to show the love of skating, despite the intensity of competition. It won’t be just about the quads, although he knows you can’t leave home without them.

The routine harks back to his year of touring last season. He’s learned much from that experience – particularly confidence. Chan says he’s learned a lot from skating with Scott Moir and his command of the ice. “That’s a skill you learn only over time and with experience and honestly, that’s been the greatest experience for me this past year,” he said.

On the ice, Wilson wears red gloves, which accent his movements all the more. He shows Chan the way. “Add some personality in your fingers,” he says as he demonstrates Mack moves to Chan, but at the same time, his shoulders are moving, too. David Wilson came up with the idea of skating to “Mack the Knife,” firstly thinking of a traditional version with Bobby Darin’s iconic work. But then he heard the Michael Buble version and thought: “It was too irresistible.” Besides, Buble is a Canadian. And Chan has met him.

Coach Kathy Johnson first suggested the idea of having Chan learn the essence of tap dancing, to inject that flavour into the showy piece. Wilson found a friend, Lucas Beaver, an artistic everyman who was originally to have spent 1 and a half hours a day in the studio for four days with Chan. But Chan loved the work so much that he ended up working with Beaver for three hours a day for five days. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Chan said. “Harder than taking hip hop or really high-level ballet.”

It’s tough for a skater accustomed to stiff boots to adopt the movement of tap. In tap, a dancer lets the ankles relax and “dangle in a way, yet show strength,” Chan said. He will not tap on the ice. He’ll bring the swagger of it, though.

“He’s become in the last six days, quite the little tap dancer,” Wilson said. “His new name is Twinkle Toes. But my friend Lucas said he learned tap faster than most dancers who had not done tap before.” Chan is now a full-fledged hoofer, with an entire routine on the floor. There are videos.

Chan’s free program is actually an altered version of the Chopin medley he used last year to win the Japan Open, his only competition of the season. Actually, Wilson found three Chopin pieces that seemed to belong together, as if the composer wrote them in the same mood. The first piece is called “Revolutionary,” a tip of the hat to Chan’s singular style of skating. “It was a labor of love for me,” Wilson said.

But it’s been reworked, with some new elements and tweaks. Chan calls it a more “advanced” version and the new difficulties of it frustrated him at first. “I already had my burst of frustration, because it’s so hard,” he said. “Skating is getting so difficult now, with all the men doing quads. I guess it’s kind of my fault. I kind of asked for it.” But from this past season, he’s learned important things: to trust that it will come, as does the choreography-learned-in-a-hurry in shows. And that a relaxed approach is best. He learned that at the Japan Open last season, when he realized there was no need to worry, he did the event, and sped off for a year of fun.

Before his choreographic session with Wilson, Chan spent eight days surfing in Costa Rica, as a last blast to his year when he didn’t have to worry about injuring himself. Now it’s time to buckle down. He knows he’s far from being fit, but Wilson says Chan can get that in order quickly. He’s determined to work hard, which will help him to relax later.

And anything that happens from now on in his career? “It’s all whipped cream and cherry on top,” Chan said.

Exceptional Skate Canada members honoured at 2015 Achievement Awards Gala in Winnipeg

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada recognized 22 award winners over the weekend at its Annual Convention and General Meeting (ACGM) and National Coaches’ Conference (NCC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The recipients received their awards on Friday night at the annual Skate Canada Achievement Awards Gala and Banquet. The winners were presented their awards by various Canadian champions, including World Champions and Olympic silver medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, two-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Canadian champion Nam Nguyen, Canadian champion Gabrielle Daleman, and team co-captain of World Synchronized Skating Champions, Nexxice, Lee Chandler.

The Skate Canada National Awards Program honours dedicated members of the skating community who have donated their time to help contribute to improving the quality of skating in Canada.

The 2014-2015 recipients are:

  • Skate Canada Club and Recreational Coach Award of Excellence
    Mary-Liz Wiley, Beaconsfield FSC, Quebec Section
  • Skate Canada Competitive Coach Award of Excellence
    Anne Schelter and Shelley Simonton Barnett, Burlington Skating Centre, Western Ontario Section
  • Skate Canada Officials Award of Excellence
    Jane Derby, Oshawa SC, Eastern Ontario Section
  • Elizabeth Swan Memorial Award
    Jo-Anne Phelps, Skate Oakville, Central Ontario Section
  • Billie Mitchell Award
    Mary Ellen McDonald, Skate Winnipeg, Manitoba Section

Skate Canada also presents a volunteer award to one member of each of the 13 Skate Canada sections. The following exceptional volunteers were awarded the 2014-2015 Skate Canada Section Volunteer Award of Excellence:

  • British Columbia/Yukon Section
    Lynne Henderson-Drake, Campbell River FSC
  • Alberta/NWT/Nunavut Section
    Doug Pettapiece, Gateway SC
  • Saskatchewan Section
    Valerie Malik, Saskatoon FSC/Skate Saskatoon
  • Manitoba Section
    Stan Yee, St. Andrews SC
  • Northern Ontario Section
    Therese Bilsborough, Cochrane FSC
  • Western Ontario Section
    Jim Virtue, Ilderton SC
  • Central Ontario Section
    Audrey Hunter, Skate Canada Brampton-Chinguacousy
  • Eastern Ontario Section
    Marilyn McAuley, Fort Henry Heights SC
  • Quebec Section
    Joanne Allard Rochon, Patinage Gatineau
  • New Brunswick Section
    Carole Thiffault, Dieppe Gold Blades
  • Prince Edward Island Section
    Cindy Ramsay, Kensington Area FSC
  • Nova Scotia Section
    Sarah Miles, Dartmouth SC
  • Newfoundland/Labrador Section
    Susan Thistle, Prince of Wales SC


Three additional awards were given out to the home section in the CanSkate, STARSkate and CompetitiveSkate athlete area, as representatives of those categories.

  • Skate Canada Section CanSkate Athlete Award
    Jacy Butler, Carmen SC, Manitoba Section
  • Skate Canada Section STARSkate Athlete Award
    Morgan Miller, Portage SC, Manitoba Section
  • Skate Canada Section CompetitiveSkate Athlete Award
    Casey Bertholet, Hartney FSC, Manitoba Section


Next year’s Skate Canada Achievement Awards Gala and Banquet will once again occur during the 2016 Annual Convention and General Meeting (ACGM) and National Coaches’ Conference (NCC), taking place May 25-28, 2016 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Waterloo to host 2016 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: Waterloo, Ontario will be the host of the 2016 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships. The event will take place from February 19-21, 2016 at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

“Skate Canada is pleased to bring this event to Waterloo. After hosting the successful 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships just down the road in Hamilton we hope to build on the excitement this sport has to offer Canadians,” said Dan Thompson, Skate Canada CEO. “This event brings fantastic skating and electric crowds. We know that with Waterloo’s vast skating community and great hosting infrastructure this championship will be another success.”

“We are delighted to host the Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships in one of our premier sports facilities,” said City of Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky. “This community embraces sports, fitness and recreation, and we hope the athletes, coaches and spectators have a great time here. Best of luck to all competitors!”

The 2016 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships will bring approximately 40 teams and over 800 skaters from across the country to Waterloo.

Teams will compete for national titles in the senior, junior, open, intermediate and novice categories. The top two senior teams will represent Canada at the 2016 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships.

Organized sport helps Canadian children maximize their potential

June is Jumpstart month. Help kids in your community play.

The benefit of physical activity to children is undeniable. From improved health and wellbeing to increased focus in school, sport has the power to change lives. Yet one in three Canadian families can’t afford to enroll their children in organized sport. The importance of sport goes beyond the obvious physical gains. Organized sport helps Canadian youth become more independent while developing key life skills such as leadership, discipline, and confidence.

Giving every Canadian child the opportunity to participate in sport is important to the development of our future generation. That’s why Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities and its 1,900 Community Partners across Canada are helping to close this gap. This year Jumpstart celebrates its 10th anniversary of providing kids from financially disadvantaged families the opportunity to get involved in an organized sport or physical activity of their choice by covering costs associated with registration, equipment and transportation.

The charity continues to grow – last year Jumpstart gave 190,000 kids the opportunity to play and this fall, will reach its one millionth child helped. That’s one million kids spanning virtually every community across Canada who have been given the chance to develop the confidence, discipline, leadership and teamwork skills that come with participation in organized sport, and Jumpstart intends to keep the momentum going.

“Providing one million kids with access to over 76 different sports over 10 years is an incredible milestone for Jumpstart and we do it because we believe sport means something to a child’s development,” says Landon French, Executive Director, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “We believe that every kid deserves an equal opportunity to play, learn and grow, and we’re looking forward to helping a million more kids in the years to come.”

Skating is one of the 76 sports that Jumpstart supports. Working with Skate Canada and it 1,200 plus clubs across the country Jumpstart is able to give children the opportunity to embrace the joy of skating. Skate Canada is committed to working with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities to bring skating to all Canadian children.

This June, you can help kids in your community get in the game by supporting Jumpstart’s Red Ball campaign at any Canadian Tire store. A $2 donation in exchange for your own Jumpstart Red Ball, will give the gift of play to a deserving kid. One hundred per cent of customer donations help children in the local community. If you know a kid who wants to play but is unable to because of costs, call 1-844-YES-PLAY or visit