Indigenous Engagement at the World Championships

Adapted from an article by Eve Cable for The Eastern Door.

The sound of 62 members of the Kahnawake Figure Skating Club (KFSC) gasping as world champion skaters backflipped on the ice at the Bell Centre filled local coach Bethany Douglas with pride as she reflected on the efforts being made to make her sport more accessible.

“It’s really meaningful and kind of emotional to see. We grew up with our skating club, and now we’re teaching the next generation,” said Douglas, who said skaters from ages three to 17 are involved with the club. “This is something skaters got to experience that they’d never seen before. And hopefully events like this will keep encouraging new skaters. The future is very bright.”

Located just outside of Montreal, the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a First Nations reserve of the Mohawks of Kahnawá:ke. The KFSC and other members of the Kahnawake community were invited to attend the International Skating Union (ISU) 2024 World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal in March 2024 as part of Skate Canada’s efforts to advance truth and reconciliation through sport.

In the three months leading up to the World Championships, Skate Canada worked to establish a meaningful relationship with the Kahnawake community. This included visiting the reservation to perform a tobacco offering – a traditional protocol when making an initial request in working with an Elder or Knowledge Keeper. Konwatsitsawi Meloche, an Elder, said that Skate Canada impressed her more than any other group she’s worked with in the past in terms of the organization’s efforts to prioritize the community.

“They were really, really impressive. I was floored at every level,” said Meloche. “It was so well done; it was a powerful presentation of inclusion and acceptance of the First Peoples of the land. It was more than acknowledging. It was about respect.”

Skate Canada initially engaged Meloche to perform the Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen – the opening address for the World Championships which was delivered in Mohawk and displayed on the jumbotron in the Bell Centre at the start of each day of the event. However, Meloche encouraged Skate Canada and the ISU to go further and offer workshops for coaches and officials participating in the event. Met with enthusiasm by both organizations, Meloche successfully delivered two 90-minute Indigenous Awareness Training sessions for more than 50 attendees.

“They were fascinated, and I challenged them that if they see potential in a non-Native, particularly a white skater, to find an Indigenous skater, an Inuit skater, a Black skater, to begin to take their perspectives and see how their own populations are very well supported,” said Meloche.  “You’ll often target, and support, and elevate your own populations. So, every time you see that promising skater, I want them to look for Indigenous skaters, to go on the reserves, to go into Black communities, and find our people that also have promise.”

Although an important milestone in Skate Canada’s journey towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, our efforts do not end with the World Championships and the Kahnawake community. As an orgnization, we are committed to continuing the conversation and creating more opportunities to advance inclusion and equity in figure skating in Canada.

“The work doesn’t stop. It’s continuous education that goes beyond working with the community. We need to make sure our own members are educated,” said Patricia Ann Que, Project Manager of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility at Skate Canada. “We want to make sure that if there’s a chance to engage with Indigenous communities, we really make that happen.”

Removing barriers to sport can help level the playing field for underrepresented groups, providing equal opportunity for athletes of all races, ages, genders, and abilities to realize their goals both on and off the ice. As the Kahnawake Figure Skating Club emphasized, events like the World Championships can help the next generation of skaters see that there’s a place for them in the figure skating world.

“I’m glad Skate Canada reached out because hopefully going forward we’ll have more opportunities like this. Without it, our skaters would probably never get to go and see a competition,” Douglas said. “It opens doors for a lot of our older skaters to be able to see what comes next and what they could pursue. It inspired them.”

To learn more about the Skate Canada’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility initiatives and how we are working to make Skating for Everyone, please click here.

5 Tips for Achieving Balance as a Competitive Athlete

Written by Kaetlyn Osmond, Olympic medallist and 3x Canadian Champion. 

Achieving excellence in sports is all about finding the right balance between your mental and physical well-being because the two are so closely connected. When athletes face physical challenges like illness, injury, overtraining, or not getting enough fuel, their mental health often suffers, too. That’s why focusing on your physical and psychological health is crucial to perform at your best. But with pressures from coaches, parents, friends, school, and social media, it can be challenging to keep everything in harmony. 

Here are five tips to help you find and maintain that balance: 

Prioritize Rest and Recovery

Athletes are quick to push their bodies to become stronger and faster. When a physical injury occurs, they often seek the necessary help to heal, and coaches typically find it easier to advise athletes to recover from visible injuries. However, it is usually more challenging to address mental recovery or seek help when the stressors are not as visibly apparent. Ensuring athletes receive sufficient sleep and rest days for physical healing and mental rejuvenation reduces the risk of burnout, overtraining, and injury, enabling athletes to perform at their best.

Emphasize The Role of Proper Nutrition

Athletes must prioritize their nutrition and hydration, which is vital to managing daily stressors. A balanced diet that meets their athletic needs provides the energy and nutrients for peak performance, efficient recovery, and stress management, all of which contribute to their overall well-being. 

Stay Connected with Support Systems

Communication between athletes and coaches is necessary for understanding the best course of action in sports. However, there is more to an athlete’s support system than their coaches alone. Friends and family are helpful for athletes to unwind, disconnect, and build lasting memories and experiences beyond sport, reminding the athlete that they are not alone and their worth as a person goes further than their accomplishments on the ice.  

Reduce Social Media Doom-Scrolling

Social media is a significant part of modern life, offering benefits such as staying connected, fostering creativity, and serving as a marketing tool for athletes. However, excessive use can create pressure for athletes to be perfect, leading to anxiety and self-doubt. It can also affect their motivation and focus on their sport and blur the line between their public and private personas. Athletes must be mindful of their online behavior and consumption to navigate the digital world effectively. 

Find a Hobby

Engaging in sports can be all-consuming, with athletes devoting countless hours to training on and off the ice. Hobbies can help athletes unwind and navigate the daily grind without cycling through their errors of the day. Whether playing another sport with friends, getting creative with music, or simply relaxing on the couch and learning to knit, many hobbies with different energy levels suit an athlete’s needs at the end of a long day. And always remember, it’s fun to be bad at something.  

Achieving excellence in sports requires an approach that values mental and physical well-being. By prioritizing rest and recovery, maintaining proper nutrition, staying connected with support systems, managing social media use, and finding hobbies, athletes can create a balanced lifestyle that supports peak performance and long-term health. Remember, success in sports is not just about pushing your limits—it’s also about knowing when to step back, take care of yourself, and enjoy the journey. Balancing these elements ensures athletes are strong competitors and well-rounded individuals capable of sustaining their passion for the sport over the long haul. 

Elizabeth Manley Shines a Spotlight on Special Olympians

When you think about famous names in Canadian figure skating history, Elizabeth Manley is sure to come to mind. After a historic silver medal win at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Manley instantly became a household name in sport.

Almost 36 years later, Manley returned to Canada Olympic Park in Calgary in a new role – Athlete Ambassador for the 2024 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games. As if it was by fate, the event coincided with the dates of her ‘88 Olympics anniversary. We sat down with Manley to learn more about her experience working Special Olympics Canada and the inspirational athletes she’s met along the way.

“I am proud to say I am part of the Special Olympics,” said Manley. At the 2024 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games this February, Manley conducted coaching clinics and skating workshops for the athletes competing in the event. Although she was there to teach the Special Olympians skills such as stroking, jumping, and spins, it was the athletes themselves who taught Manley valuable lessons. “My greatest learning is that they are just like us,” said Manley of the figure skaters. “You might think you need to adapt [your approach to coaching], but I didn’t feel that.”

At the event, Manley was particularly moved by one young skater named Jack. As a nonverbal athlete, Manley had concerns about she and Jack would communicate. To Manley’s surprise, it was not an issue for Jack. “His mind is so sharp,” Manley recounts, “he would just nod and skate off after I gave him directions. He took it all in and I never needed to change or adapt my approach for him.” Manley learned that working with Special Olympians is the same as working with other high-performance athletes. They are motivated, work hard at their craft, and are excited to have the opportunity to compete. “When you look at these Special Olympians, they are all champions who are being fulfilled by something they love,” said Manley.

Overall, the experience served as an important reminder on the value of representation in sport. Manley shared that she could relate to the stigma that some of the athletes face due to their disabilities. As a skater who suffered from depression before mental health was part of mainstream discourse, people also often looked at her differently. That’s why the work of Special Olympics Canada is so important – the Games provide athletes the opportunity to shine, to pursue excellence, and the visibility to show others that they too can realize their dreams. By the end of the Games, Manley left the event feeling “absolutely inspired.”

She also emphasized that opportunity is a crucial ingredient in increasing representation and fostering greater inclusivity in sport. “There are not enough events,” said Manley. “These athletes need more opportunities to perform and to be highlighted. The more events and the more people witnessing them will make the Special Olympics even bigger and keep athletes involved in sport longer. I believe in my heart we will get there.” So, the next time you see an event in your area, we encourage you to attend and cheer on the athletes. “If you want a day of just pure enjoyment and inspiration, come out and see an event because these athletes will give it to you.”

________

*Special Olympics Canada is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport.

Top Alumni Moments from the 2023-2024 Season

While our athletes wowed at events this season, Canada’s former figure skaters also achieved outstanding accomplishments outside of the competition rink. Take a look at some of our favourite skating stories from beyond the boards that you may have missed this year.  

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Receive Highest Honour in Sport

Considered one of the greatest skating duos of all time, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir received the Order of Sport – Canada’s highest sporting honour – and were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2023. The team spent nearly a decade at the top of our sport, becoming the most decorated ice dancers in the world winning a record-setting five Olympic medals, three World Championships, and eight Canadian National Championships while capturing the hearts of fans around the world and elevating the sport of figure skating in the process.  

Photo credit: Danielle Earl / Stars on Ice

Patrick Chan Performs his Swan Song with Stars on Ice 

With his second baby on the way and a budding new career in finance, skating superstar Patrick Chan announced his retirement from show skating this year. Chan marked the culmination of his illustrious career with a final farewell tour with Stars on Ice this spring, where he performed in 12 cities and officially said farewell to his devoted fans across Canada. Chan retired from competitive skating in 2018 after a remarkable career which included Olympic gold and silver medals, three World Championship titles, and 10 National Championship victories, solidifying his status as the most decorated figure skater in Canadian history. 

 

Photo by Elsa Garrison – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

Skating Leaders Recognized for Coaching Excellence  

Among the best national team coaches in Canada, five figure skating leaders were honoured for their outstanding achievements in coaching last fall. Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Carol Lane, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier’s coaches, and Pascal Dennis and Marilyn Langlois, Les Supremes coaches, received the Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award. These prestigious awards recognize coaches whose athletes have excelled at world championships, Olympic and Special Olympics Worlds Games.  

Elvis Stojko Brings Down the House at Gala 

The man, the myth, the legend, Elvis Stojko was true to form in his Gala performance at the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, Quebec. As the opening act for the Exhibition Gala, the closing event which showcases the fun and humorous side of figure skating, Stojko fired up the hometown crowd with his signature ‘bad boy’ skating style. The star-studded Gala lineup included other Canadian alumni like Keegan Messing and Patrick Chan, the medallists from the World Championships, and a selection of fan-favourite athletes.   

Elizabeth Manley Inspires at Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 

Nearly 40 years after winning the silver medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics, Elizabeth Manley returned to Calgary this year to help pave the way for the next generation of Canadian figure skaters. In partnership with the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, Manley led training sessions and coaching clinics with the 44 figure skaters and their coaches who were participating in the event, offering cherished advice and words of inspiration ahead of the competition. “There should be … no barriers in sport,” said Manley. “We should all be able to do it no matter what our situation may be.”

Photo credit: Danielle Earl / Stars on Ice

Kurt Browning Assumes Director Role with Stars on Ice

After an incredible 30-year stint performing in shows with Stars on Ice, the iconic Kurt Browning hung up his skates in 2023. However, to the delight of fans, Browning’s retirement from Stars on Ice was short-lived. He returned to the tour this spring in a new and exciting fashion as the Director and Choreographer of the 2024 production. His connection with the audience and skating expertise brought unique creativity and charisma to each performance, providing an unforgettable experience for all. 

Top Synchronized Skating Moments from the 2023/2024 Season

Canada is known for many things, such as ice hockey, maple syrup, and cold winters. After the 2023/2024 skating season, Canada should also be known for the world-class talent of our synchronized skaters. Keep reading to see some of the most memorable synchro moments from last year. 

Photo Credit: International Skating Union

Les Suprêmes Make History at World Championships 

Les Suprêmes soared to unprecedented heights this season, becoming the first team in synchronized skating history to win three consecutive World Championship titles! The Quebec-based team dominated the competition at the 2024 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Croatia, setting all new season’s best scores to finish first in both the short program and free skate.



Les Suprêmes Junior Claim their First World Title
 

The undisputed talent of Les Supremes also extends to their junior team, who topped the podium at the 2024 ISU World Junior Synchornized Skating Championships in Switzerland. Les Supremes Junior achieved a new season’s best total score of 205.14, skating their way to the gold medal and to capturing their first World title. It was the cherry on top of a fantastic season for the team who earned a gold medal at the Challenger Series Marie Lundmark Trophy, a bronze at the PGE Hevelius Cup, and gold at the 2024 Canadian National Championships. 

Synchro Celebrated at World’s Opening Ceremony 

Fans from across the globe were treated to a spectacular display of synchronized skating at the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, which took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que. To officially kick off the festivities, Nova Senior and Les Suprêmes performed a dazzling routine together – complete with light up costumes – at the Opening Ceremony that paid tribute to Canada’s four seasons.  

Canadian Podium Sweep at 2024 Steel City Trophy 

They came, they skated, they conquered all three steps of the podium! Canada’s incredible roster of synchronized skating talent was on full display at the 2024 Steel City Trophy in the United Kingdom, with Canadian teams sweeping the podium to complete one of the rarest triples of all: gold, silver, and bronze. Ice Ignite of Ontario, Golding Ice of Quebec, and Gold Ice of Ontario claimed first, second and third place respectively.  

First Elite 12 Champions Crowned at Skate Canada Cup 

NEXXICE etched their name in skating history this season, becoming the first senior elite 12 champions of Canada at the 2024 Skate Canada Cup. A new addition to the competition this year, elite 12 is a recently developed category that consists of 12 skaters as compared to 16 skaters in a typical senior synchronized skating division. The Ontario team soared high above the competition, claiming the top spot by a near 15-point lead. 

Top Pair Moments from the 2023-2024 Season

It was a monumental year for pair figure skating in Canada, consisting of historic triumphs and captivating comebacks. Take a look at some of the standout moments that left us inspired and eagerly anticipating the 2024/2025 season.

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps Win the World Championships

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps soared to unprecedented heights this season, medalling at every event they competed in. Their hot streak culminated in a triumphant gold medal at the 2024 World ISU Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, Que. – Deschamps’ hometown. Stellato-Dudek’s victory marked a watershed moment in sport, as she became the first-ever female competitor over 40 years old to clinch this prestigious title.

Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud Shine in First Grand Prix Season

Another Canadian senior pair team captivated our hearts this year. Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud debuted in their first Grand Prix season together, where they secured a silver medal at Skate America and claimed gold at the Grand Prix of France. The dynamic duo went on to place in the top-10 at both the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships – a superb finish for their first year as a team.

Canada’s Junior Teams Show Great Promise for the Future of Pair Skating

While Canada’s senior pair teams dazzled this year, the ascent of our junior stars was equally as remarkable. After suffering from a collapsed lung last season, Yohnatan Elizarov and his partner Ava Kemp came back stronger than ever this year. This season saw the duo clinch gold on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and seize silver at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.

Alongside Kemp and Elizarov on the podium at the Junior Grand Prix Final were Jazmine Derochers and Kieran Thrasher. To the delight Canadian fans, this newly formed pair team captured the bronze medal to secure a double podium finish for Canada. Also in their first season as a pair, Martina Ariano-Kent and Charly Lailberté-Laurent had a breakout year, capturing two medals on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and signaling a bright future for Canada’s NextGen talent.

Canada’s Junior Pair Team Makes History With First-Ever Youth Olympics Gold Medal Win

Photo by Dave Holland/COC

The 2024 Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, Republic of Korea, marked another historic moment for Canadian pairs. In their debut season on Canada’s NextGen team, Annika Behnke and Kole Sauve etched their names in figure skating history by clinching Canada’s first-ever gold medal and first-ever individual medal at the Youth Olympic Games. Behnke and Sauve were further honoured when they were selected as Canada’s flag bearers for the Closing Ceremony.

If the 2024/2025 season is anything like last year, you won’t want to miss a moment! Be sure sign up for our Fan List to be the first to know about ticket releases, team announcements, and athlete accomplishments.

Women’s Top Moments from the 2023/2024 Season

From novice through to senior women, we saw lots of incredible Canadian talent on display this year. Here are some of our top women’s highlights from the 2023/2024 season.  

The Canadian women’s season started off on a high note with a double podium finish at Autumn Classic International. In front of local fans in Pierrefonds, Quebec, Kaiya Ruiter of Alberta, and Justine Miclette of Quebec claimed the silver and bronze medals behind three-time World Champion, Kaori Sakamoto of Japan. Ruiter continued her hot streak at the 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships, where she captured her first national title in her hometown of Calgary, Alberta.  

This year, we also saw a new star rise to the top of the junior podium at the 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships. After finishing in 8th place the year before, Lulu Lin of Ontario laid down an impressive performance to earn the gold medal and a coveted spot on Canada’s World Junior team. At her World Junior debut, Lin put out two strong skates to find herself ranked in the top-10 of the competition – securing two spots for Canada’s women at the event next season.  

One of the most remarkable Canadian athletes this season was none other than Lia Cho, a novice skater from Alberta. At Skate Canada Challenge – Pre-Novice/Novice, Cho took home the gold medal and set a new Canadian novice record with a total score of 153.81. Cho then went on to rewrite the history books yet again at the 2024 Novice Canadian Championships, where she captured first place and broke her own record with a score of 166.56 – 33 points ahead of the nearest competition. 

The year finished just as good as it started for our female athletes, with three Canadian novice skaters sweeping the podium at the Triglav Trophy in Slovenia. Lia Cho continued to dominate the women’s discipline, claiming the gold medal with a notable lead. She was followed by Ksenia Krouzkevitch of Ontario, and Sandrine Blais of Quebec who took home the silver and bronze medals respectively. It was an especially remarkable result considering that it was the skaters’ first international competition! 

There is a lot of exciting young talent to watch for in the upcoming skating season, some of whom will be named to Skate Canada’s NextGen team and assigned to the Junior Grand Prix circuit. Make sure to sign up to our fan list to be the first to know about our skaters’ accomplishments, upcoming events, and ticket sales.  

Top Men’s Moments from the 2023/2024 Season

From snowstorms to broken skate laces, new titles to breakout performances, the men kept us on the edge of our seats this season. Here are a few of our top Canadian men’s moments from the 2023/2024 skating season.

When we think of an athlete who seizes every opportunity to shine, Aleksa Rakic immediately comes to mind. Rakic kicked off his standout season at Skate Canada International – his senior Grand Prix debut – where he put up an impressive score of 189.38. He harnessed the momentum to capture silver medals at the 2023/24 Skate Canada Challenge and at the 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships. Rakic’s performance at Nationals was a noteworthy leap from his 10th place finish the previous year.

Wesley Chiu also had a breakout performance at the 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships. For years, Canadian figure skating fans have been watching Chiu rise through the ranks and develop his confidence on the ice. With the retirement of Keegan Messing making way for a new Canadian men’s champion, Chiu rose to the occasion and captured his first National title. Chiu then went on to compete at Four Continents and the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships – his first ever Championship events.

The triumphs of our senior men offer a lot of inspiration for Canada’s up-and-coming athletes. Take Parker Heiderich for example, a novice skater from Alberta who is competing as part of Skate Canada’s podium pathway. After attending the 2023 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Heiderich was motivated to improve his program and tackle new elements. He skated into the new season with a triple lutz under his belt and walked away with the novice men’s silver medal at the 2023/24 Skate Canada Challenge.

Every season has its challenges and Roman Sadovsky faced his fair share. After falling on a triple axel during summer training, Sadovsky suffered a knee and ankle injury that took him off the ice for a few months. When he finally returned to competition, Sadovsky was sidelined once again by series of travel mishaps, including lost luggage and a snowstorm. Sadovsky’s path finally took an upturn at Nationals, where he qualified for the Four Continents and World Championships teams. He was able to cap off his season on a high note competing in front of the home crowd at Worlds in Montreal.

Anthony Paradis also delt with a surprising stroke of bad luck last season. While competing at Nationals, Paradis’ lace broke in the middle of his free skate. Paradis asked the referee for a three-minute break to fix his lace. With his lace repaired, Paradis jumped back on the ice with tremendous force to skate the remainder of his program and to capture the bronze medal at his first senior men’s Nationals, despite the five-point deduction he incurred for the interruption.

Through all the highs and lows, Canada’s men put on an amazing show of grit and determination last season. We are excited to see what they accomplish in 2024/2025!

Top Ice Dance Moments from the 2023/2024 Season

The 2023/2024 figure skating season came to a crowd-roaring conclusion at the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at home in Montreal, Quebec. From the junior to senior level, Canada’s ice dancers impressed this season, capturing a total of 14 international medals.

Here are some of the top ice dance moments from the season.

The king and queen of Canadian ice dance, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier continue to impress year after year, and what a year it was for this dynamic duo! Gilles and Poirier posted their best-ever finish at the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, winning the free dance and capturing the silver medal. Their road to the silver medal included their first championship gold medal at the 2024 ISU Four Continents Championships, a bronze medal at Grand Prix Final, and their fourth title win at Skate Canada International.

Not only did Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha overcome adversity this season, but they also found their place in the upper ranks of Canadian ice dance. After winning two silver medals on the Grand Prix circuit and making their first appearance at Grand Prix Final, Lajoie suffered a concussion that sidelined the duo for months. Finally in the clear to train again just before the World Championships, these previous Junior World Champions (2019) wowed the home crowd to place 5th in Montreal. A huge leap from their previous 11th place finish in 2022.

On the topic of impressive comebacks, Paul Ayer and Alicia Fabbri also had career highlighting moments this year. After being sidelined the previous season due to Ayer’s shoulder injury, Fabbri and Ayer captured their first podium finish – a bronze medal – at Nationals in Ayer’s hometown of Calgary, Alberta. They finished their season strong by winning the first senior international medal of their career, a bronze at the 2024 Challenge Cup.

Skate Canada’s junior teams also shone brightly this season. Ontario’s Layla Vellion and Alexander Brandys claimed their first national title, rising from their fifth-place finish at Nationals the year before. While Chloe Nguyen and Brendan Giang, the newly formed team from British Columbia, took home a silver medal on the junior Grand Prix circuit at the Cup of Austria. Both teams also had standout performances at the 2024 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, placing in the top-10.

The future of Canadian ice dance is looking strong as we approach the halfway mark to the 2026 Olympic Games in Milano-Cortina. Make sure to stay tuned to skatecanada.ca and sign up for the Fan List to be the first to know about the 2024/2025 Grand Prix assignments and who’s named to the National Team in the months ahead.

City Mayor Makes a Difference at World Championships

If there is one common theme in France Bisson’s life, it is her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. Since 2013, France has served as the Mayor of Saint-Sébastien, Quebec, where she has worked diligently to build a better world for her community.  

Outside of city limits, France also invests her time in giving back to the sport of figure skating. As a long-time volunteer with Skate Canada and Patinage Québec, France recently held the position of Director of Volunteer Recruitment for the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships (Worlds). 

Keep reading to learn more about France and her role at Worlds, which included overseeing the more than 400 volunteers who helped bring the event to life. 

What were you were responsible for as Director of Volunteer Recruitment?  

I ensured that all volunteer teams had the right number of volunteers, and the right candidate for the job required. We had many requests from volunteers, and the main objective was to place the volunteers in a team so that their experience was positive and so that the service provided would be above the requirements we had defined. 

How is your position as Mayor of Saint-Sébastien related to your volunteer work?  

The position of Director of Volunteer Recruitment and the position of Mayor have many similarities, the most important of which is to work to build a better world. In a role supporting volunteers like mine is with Skate Canada, it is important to put a lot of effort into welcoming the athletes, the teams, and visitors to create a memorable experience. Selling this idea to all the members of the Local Organizing Committee is really a challenge that I prioritize in my involvement. 

What do you like about volunteering for Skate Canada?  

I want to stay present in a sport that I’m passionate about. It’s the most beautiful sport in the world. Being a volunteer allows you to get to know people who often become friends afterwards. Over the past 20 years, I have seen volunteers grow up, and at each event, I admire the adults they’ve become and the generosity they demonstrate. 

What do you like about volunteering in general?  

I like making a difference in people’s lives and working in kindness to have beautiful relationships with people. 

Why do you think volunteering is important for young people?  

It allows you to gain experience and confidence. The involvement allows you to meet volunteers of all ages and to develop friendships. 

How many events have you participated in with Skate Canada?  

I actually don’t know. I have been a Team Leader for many Skate Canada national competitions for over 20 years with Patinage Québec. For event organizing committees, my first experience was in 2011 at the Grand Prix Final in Quebec City. Since then, I’ve held the position of Director of Volunteer Recruitment for each Skate Canada Challenge, Autumn Classic, and Skate Canada International event held in Quebec.  

Tell us about a favorite memory from an event you attended. 

At all the events I participate in, there are always magical moments. I love to have fun, laugh, and learn. In all events, these moments happen. I like to say that memories of happiness are still happiness. 

The most recent memory is when the first warm-up started at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal. We were a bunch of volunteers in the volunteers’ lounge. We looked at the television and saw the beginning of the event, looked at each other and just started cheering because it was finally happening – eight years of work later. The emotion was overwhelming. 

I’d like to share another memory too – it marked my ‘career’ as a volunteer with Patinage Québec. It was on a trip to the Canadian Championships in 2015. We were Team Leaders for a group of 50 people from Montreal to Halifax. The practices started the next day. Unfortunately, our flight got cancelled as well as another group of 50 people later that day. With all the qualities and creativity of the Team Leaders and volunteers of Patinage Québec, we found a charter flight, buses, hotel rooms, comforted the skaters and parents, and all our skaters arrived in time for the practices. When we landed in Halifax, I thought it was a miracle and I still think it was. 

Skate Canada is grateful to France for her years of dedication to the sport and to the thousands of like-minded volunteers across the country who not only help make our work possible, but who help uplift skaters of all ages so that they can realize their dreams.  

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Skate Canada, please click here. 

TOP 10 MOMENTS FROM THE 2024 ISU WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Skate Canada hosted the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at the Bell Centre in Montreal from March 18 – 24, where sold-out crowds witnessed incredible performances by the 200 best skaters from more than 40 countries.

Here are some of our top moments from the event (in no particular order)!

  1. Deanna Stellato-Dudek rewriting the history books with Maxime Deschamps as they took home gold in the pair competition, and she became the oldest female world figure skating champion of all time at 40 years old.

  2. Retired skater Keegan Messing sharing his signature HUGE Canadian flag with Deanna & Maxime when they won gold, and then him waving it in the stands throughout the event to cheer on Team Canada.
  3. The “Quad God” Ilia Malinin of the USA absolutely living up to this moniker by nailing 6 quadruple jumps, including the quad axel to set a new World Record for the men’s free program enroute to winning his first World Championship title.

  4. The amazing choreography and visuals from the Opening Ceremony featuring Les Suprêmes, Nova and Elladj Baldé that celebrated the four seasons.

  5. Kaori Sakamoto of Japan becoming the first woman to win three-consecutive World Championship titles since Peggy Fleming (USA) did it from 1966-1968 and becoming the first Japanese skater ever to win three in a row.

  6. Adam Siao Him Fa being resurrected from 19th place after the short program to finish with a bronze medal in the men’s competition. His meteoric rise is the greatest comeback ever recorded in the sport – AND – he did it despite receiving deductions for performing an illegal backflip. What a legend.

  7. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier taking home a silver medal for Canada in the ice dance competition after posting the highest score in the free dance portion. This was their highest finish at the World Championships since they made their debut at Worlds in 2013.

  8. Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha posting all new personal best scores for their performances just weeks after Marjorie was cleared to return to training after suffering a concussion in January

  9. Retired skater, and Event Ambassador Patrick Chan bringing in the crowds for signatures & photos at the Skate Canada EDIA booth.

  10. The Seraphim Chamber Choir from Montreal who learned 10 different national anthems to perform live for each medal presentation ceremony – a real crowd pleaser! 

Who to Watch Out For at the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships

Written by Jackie Wong of Rocker Skating

The main event is about to start. The 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships will take place this week in Montreal. If you’re looking for a quick download of the skaters to watch out for, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for a quick download of everything else, check out my post on what I’m looking forward to in Montreal. Get ready for a lot of skating in the next few days. 

Pairs 

The pairs kick things off on Wednesday with their short programs. This season is shaping up to be like last season—we started wondering about the state of pair skating and we may end up being impressed about how they have pushed each other to improve the whole way. Among the storylines here will be Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps trying to win a World title at home, the continued return of reigning World champs Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara from injury, and the meteoric rise of two new pairs this season in Anastasia Metelkina/Luka Berulava and Minerva Hase/Nikita Volodin. 

Women 

The story of this season for the women has been one of good depth but major inconsistency. In Montreal this week, Kaori Sakamoto tries for a third consecutive World title, something that hasn’t been accomplished in 56 years. And Loena Hendrickx attempts to become the first Belgian singles skater ever to win Worlds. But perhaps more intriguingly, there are at least nine skaters who realistically have a chance to stand on the podium, and it will be hard to predict. 

Men 

Coming into Montreal, four men have separated themselves from the rest of the field this season. One has a quad axel (Ilia Malinin), one is accelerating in his comeback season (Yuma Kagiyama), one is hoping to become the first French man to win Worlds since 2007 (Adam Siao Him Fa), and the fourth is the two-time reigning champion (Shoma Uno). Barring some colossal surprise, the podium should consist of some permutation of these four skaters. But as it’s been for a number of years, the men’s event could be the field that combines depth with choreographic diversity the most. 

Dance 

Another spot for the Canadians to shine—Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier have been bronze medalists twice at Worlds; could they strike gold at home? The entire podium from last year’s Worlds is back and all three dance teams are favoured again to be back on the podium this year. If that happens, it will be the second year in a row and the second year ever that the dance podium will be occupied by skaters who are all over 30. Madison Chock/Evan Bates are the reigning champs, with Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri defending their silver but hoping for more.