Recognizing devoted supporters & celebrating our skaters!

By Paul Dore

Last year, Pj Kwong and I had the privilege to host the first Breaking the Ice event during the National Team High Performance Camp. The question presented to us: what kind of event can we create to show Skate Canada’s appreciation to donors, celebrate the athletes and have some fun? The answer we came up with was the very first live late night talk show all about figure skating.

When asked to help re-create the magic again, Pj and I jumped at the chance.

Being an Olympic year, we wanted to build the show around the athletes that have given us those memories that only exist every four years. The theme of the show was looking at the past to understand the possibilities of the future.

As hosts, Pj and I bring a unique perspective. We’re both former skaters and coaches and so understand the sport from the inside. As everyone knows, Pj has been covering figure skating at the CBC and through her own blog, podcast and YouTube Channel for years. The skaters all know and trust her to represent them in a respectful way. I have worked behind-the-scenes in television, including directing for the Olympic Broadcasting Service in Sochi.

We all watch Skate Canada athletes compete on the world stage. Our goal with Breaking the Ice was to show off the personalities of these skaters, to connect them in a deeper way with their fans and those in the live audience who have given their generous support.

And what a roaster of guests! For each skater, we had a short interview segment and got down to the fun stuff.

Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch talked to us about training for an Olympic season and who inspired them in their skating. We then showed Lubov and Dylan photographs of throws in mid-air and they would have to guess what kind of throw. Sure, a bit of a trick question, but they got all three right!

Next up was Nexxice Captain Courtney McNaughton and Nam Nguyen. Both shared stories of their skating pasts and went head-to-head in a game we called ‘Tweet This’ – we’ll leave what it was about to your imagination.

We had the privilege to have together on stage Debi Wilkes and Petra Burka. They both won their Olympic medals at the 1964 Games. Debi and Petra – and the audience – had a great time sharing and hearing humorous stories about their time in Innsbruck all those years ago.

One of our favourite guests from last year’s show was Gabrielle Daleman. In an emotional interview, she told us about the incredible support she receives from her family. This year, she didn’t disappoint and talked about what it felt like to stand on the World podium in Helsinki.

Last up was World Champion Jeffrey Buttle. Who doesn’t love Jeff? He charmed the crowd with his stories as an athlete and talked about his work as a choreographer. We showed him photographs where he had to tell us what he was thinking. We guessed at our own captions and to provide a hint, most of them involved Jeff needing to get a new hairstylist.

Pj and I put together a final eight minute video celebrating Canadian Olympic medalists of the past and looking towards Pyeongchang in 2018. We were happy to have Olympic alumni such as Donald Jackson, Tracy Wilson, Brian Orser and Elvis Stojko in the audience and believe in the importance of recognizing the individuals that have been a part of the history of our sport.

With my involvement in the David Dore Leadership Fund, I’ve been able to see first hand the impact of the Skate Canada Fund. Yes, we had fun with the athletes. The real joy that Breaking the Ice brought to Pj and I was the smiling faces of the donors who made up our audience. We hoped to create a special evening where we put on display the appreciation of their support, while encouraging them to continue with their involvement. After all, the Skate Canada Fund is successful because of their generous and giving spirit.

To explore the Skate Canada Fund and it’s various funding pillars, please visit: https://skatecanada.ca/donate/