Canada’s Les Suprêmes repeat as Synchronized Skating World Champions

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Les Suprêmes, from St-Léonard, Que., successfully defended its title on Saturday at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships while Nexxice from Burlington, Ont., took fourth spot.

There were no changes in the top-four after Friday’s short program, with Les Suprêmes taking top spot with a season best 240.98 points which was four points more than last year’s winning performance. The national bronze medalists entered the worlds with two international medals this season including a victory.

The Helsinki Rockettes from Finland won the silver with 239.56 and their compatriots Team Unique was third with 237.68.

Canada’s Nexxice was fourth for the second straight year with 228.08. Nexxice, the national champions, also collected two international podiums prior to worlds including a gold medal.

There were 23 entries in total at the championships.

Full results: ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships 2023

Rachel Naylor – “My Disability Does Not Define Me”

This is a story about Rachel. Rachel is a 20-something nursing student, who grew up in a small town called Cameron, just outside Lindsay, Ontario, a place most people have never heard of. She has two older brothers, who taught her a lot about competition, what it means to be resilient and never let her get away with feeling ‘different’.

There is something unique and special about Rachel. Her mindset is utterly positive, she’s exceptionally driven, inspiring and in her own words, she doesn’t let anyone tell her what she can and cannot do.

A third-year nursing student and long-time figure skater, Rachel was also born without a left hand. A congenital upper limb deficiency, which means that her left hand never developed during her mom’s pregnancy. Her parents were concerned at first but that quickly faded when Rachel was able to hit all her developmental milestones just as easily as her two older brothers.

At two years old, Rachel fell in love for the first time…with figure skating. Her mother was a figure skater and Rachel wanted to be just like her. At the age of four Rachel was enrolled in CanSkate, where she met her coach, Denise Harris. Rachel’s tenacious and positive spirit was evident even then. Rachel remembers going to the rink dressed in all pink outfit and skating into the boards on purpose.  This high energy and stubborn demeanour caught her coach’s attention.

At six years old Rachel shared that she “demanded that Denise let her skate to the chicken dance song” at her first competition. Thanks in part to her two older brothers, Rachel developed a very competitive spirit, so she took her chicken dance routine very seriously. The result, a clean sweep of first place medals that season.

That determination and dedication stayed with Rachel throughout her skating career and life. In 2016, Rachel qualified for provincials amongst a large pool of other competitors, most of whom were able-bodied. It’s important to note here, Rachel was not given any special considerations or points for her disability. Rachel would go on to qualify for provincials at least two more times, a huge accomplishment given her disability does come with limitations.

As Rachel improved, she noticed a greater impact on her skating. People around her were acquiring higher GOEs, starting to level up their spins with specific variations but Rachel is unable to grab her blade on one side.

“I couldn’t do an A-frame because I wasn’t able to grab the back of my boot,” said Rachel.

For some elements Rachel found herself having to wrap her arm around her leg because of her disability. A totally different approach than her able-bodied competitors.

Despite the challenges and difficulties that come with her disability, Rachel has never let that define her.

“My disability Is not some kind of separate entity here to hold me back. My disability is a large part of the person I am and has shaped my experiences since I was young” shared Rachel.

There will always be limitations, “I will never be a surgeon” she admits. Rachel has had to learn to function in a world that is primary built for people who are able-bodied. Despite all this Rachel moves forward through life with a ‘try first’ attitude.

This attitude is how she is powering her way through a nursing degree at Queens University. When Rachel first enrolled in the program, she was not sure if she would be able to complete it due to the limitations of her disability. While some people would never have signed up in the first place, Rachel’s try first attitude kicked in.

“If I figured out halfway through that I really wasn’t able to do it, I would tackle that when I came to it. But what was the harm in trying?” explained Rachel regarding her decision to enroll in nursing school.

Rachel’s mentality and approach to life and her views on her disability are truly inspiring. Often in life we are limited by our mindset and inner thoughts. Rachel smashes through negative thought and plunges forward.

In closing Rachel shared some advice and insights, “we need more visibility,” she says. “If you show people that you can do this and we have more faces of people with physical disabilities in skating or any sport, it will encourage more people to participate. It’s going to show somebody, hey, there is someone like me. Maybe I can do this?”

2023 Canada Games Marked by Friendship, New Records and Huge Crowds

Athletes from across the country united in Prince Edward Island for the 2023 Canada Winter Games and what a great event it was! The games took place from February 18 to March 5th with 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches involved across 20 different sports, including figure skating.

With standing room only, the crowd’s reactions were loud and encouraging throughout the competition week. It was a sea of colour as teams could be clearly distinguished from one another as they sported their Provincial and Territorial attire. Meanwhile the spirit of the games was alive in the support that athletes showed, not only to their teammates but to all skaters.

The figure skating portion of the games consisted of pre-novice men, women, pair, ice dance and Special Olympics Level 2 and 3. As competition unfolded over the course of the second week, we saw two records broken; Sandrine Blais from Quebec, silver medalist at the 2023 Skate Canada Challenge in Regina, set a record in pre-novice women and Julia Xiao and Keith Lau of Manitoba, also silver medalists in Regina, set a new record in pre-novice pair.

The 2023 Canada Games were also host to the Special Olympics, which saw two young participants qualify for the first time. Maddox Glover from Newfoundland and Labrador and Kayla Rose Cooper from Nova Scotia, both 13 years of age, won their respective events.

To see all the athletes stay to watch and support the Special Olympic athletes was truly heartwarming. Figure skating Special Olympians Maddox Glover and Mike Sumner had some truly memorable moments at the Games, as Glover was the flag bearer during the Closing Ceremonies and Sumner won the Pat Lechelt True Sport award. This award is presented to two athletes during the games who exemplify true sport principles both on and off the field of play. This was Sumner’s last Games and they ended on a high note:

“I am feeling the excitement right now. I think I performed my personal best and I am very happy about this opportunity to be here,” shared Sumner.

Over the course of this two-week event we had the opportunity to ask athletes, coaches and managers what their experience of the Games was like. Here are a few highlights from the responses we collected:

“It was amazing in all aspects, and I learnt a lot from it. I developed long-lasting friends.”

Julia Xiao – Pre-Novice Pair Champion from MB

“My Canada Winter Games experience was fun, and the environment helped so that I wasn’t stressed for competition. It was a great experience that I will never forget!”

Keith Lau – Pre-Novice Pair Champion from MB

‘Our experience at the Canada Winter Games was phenomenal. Even with a stressful start, we felt support from Skate Canada, volunteers, and a heartfelt message from Keegan Messing. What a treat to be at an event where the calibre of skating was so impressive, and the crowd was beyond enthusiastic. This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our athletes and leadership team alike.’

Lisa Bonderove – Team AB Manager

The spirit of the Games was phenomenal for everyone involved from athletes to officials to audience members. There was great competition, wonderful camaraderie, and support for all athletes across all disciplines. In the words of many of the participants in PEI, the 2023 Canada Winter Games is an “experience they will never forget.”

For more information about the games and for final competition results, please visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page.

Khorana Séa-Alphonse – My Skating Journey

Skate Canada is sharing stories and experiences from our community as we recognize Black History Month. Khorana Séa-Alphonse started skating at a young age at a local skating school in Montreal, QC. She was a recreational skater in both singles and synchronized skating and started coaching as an adult. She is now a CanSkate Coach at the Gloucester Figure Skating Club and serves as a member of the Skate Canada EDIA Operating Committee. When she’s not on the ice, Khorana works for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and is very busy as a new mom to a six-month-old.

 

Education and Advocacy Pave The Way for Better Representation Special Feature with Elladj Baldé

Life grants us opportunities to grow, change and improve if we listen, stay curious and keep an open mind. Every February we are granted unique opportunities that come with the celebration of Black History Month. This opportunity looks different for people of different backgrounds. For some, Black History Month provides an opportunity to engage in difficult conversations, to expand understanding and to take a look at the current situation. For Black and racialized people, Elladj Baldé says “this time is a moment to celebrate history and look forward to what the black experience could look like.” Baldé has become an advocate and inspiration for many in the skating community.

His social media stardom is giving young Black skaters someone they can relate to when they dream of seeing themselves on the ice. He is also igniting crowds with his authentic and entertaining style but feels like the current situation “still sits in hope and faith.” The good news is, there are steps we can take to make our way forward and it begins with education and representation.

As a skater, Baldé said the lack of representation and not “seeing someone who looks like him achieve success” was a struggle.  He was often told that he shouldn’t wear what he wanted because the judges wouldn’t like it and it was the same when it came to his music.

“It made me feel that who I was and who I wanted to be on the ice would limit me from success,” said Baldé.

At one point he was even told to cut his hair.

Baldé wants to create room for figure skaters to fully express themselves and become successful in the sport.

“The way forward is to understand what it is to live the Black experience, the Indigenous experience, the People of Colour experience. Education on different styles of music, on different styles of movement; we are so used to seeing skating done in a certain way that we identify as good. But there are so many ways to move on the ice,” explained Baldé.

In November 2021, Baldé and his wife, Michelle Dawley formed Skate Global Foundation, a non-profit organization formed on three pillars: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), Mental Health and Climate Change. In 2023, the key focus of the Skate Global Foundation will be EDI.

“To help support skaters of colour, starting specifically with Black skaters,” said Baldé. This support will come in the form of grants, assisting with equipment costs, ice times and more.

One of the biggest barriers to figure skating is the cost. Ice time, coaches and skates can add up quickly and in underserved communities, those barriers are compounded by systemic racism. Mix in a lack of representation adds to the challenge, “it makes it really difficult for a young Black kid to choose this sport and then make it all the way to the top,” said Baldé.

Baldé believes change starts at the top with National Sport Organizations (NSO) taking initiatives and trying to break down barriers and make sport more accessible.

One of Skate Canada’s strategic imperatives over the next quadrennial is Skating for Everyone. As part of this imperative, Skate Canada is taking action on anti-racism, Indigenous engagement and working to eliminate barriers that limit participation in skating.

Through activities such as World Ice Skating Day, the Diverse Leaders in Skating Mentorship Program, Indigenous lead sharing circles and EDIA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility) educational resources, Skate Canada has started to make progress in this area.

“I believe that in Canada we have a really good opportunity to make this a sport that looks a lot more diverse than it did a few years ago,” said Baldé.

Baldé encourages the skating community to continue education, have difficult conversations and be open to someone else’s experience.

In closing, Baldé had some inspiring words to share with the next generation.

“If it’s something you really want to do and you love, do it and embrace your gifts. Find what it is that is unique about you and share that with everyone and allow everyone to celebrate you for who you are – there is nothing more beautiful than that.”

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**Baldé is a former National Team Member who competed at 27 international competitions. Baldé won the Canadian junior title in 2008 and would go on to compete at nine senior Canadian championships, making the National Team five times. In 2015, he won his first gold medal on the international scene at the Nebelhorn Trophy. ***

How Figure Skating Saved My Life – Katharine Davies’ Story

As a kid aged 8 or 9, Katharine Davies took a few skating lessons, but it was not an activity that stuck with her as she was drawn to dance, more specifically ballet.  A few months before the beginning of the pandemic, things started to shift for Katharine. She could feel her time as a ballet dancer coming to an end and found herself spending more and more time at the rink with her eldest daughter who had taken up figure skating.

In January 2020 Katharine thought it would be fun to take up figure skating as something she would be able to share with her daughter. She started slow, skating once a week, and was surprised at how hard it was. Ballet and figure skating often lend to one another, with many figure skaters taking dance classes to work on artistry, form, and other skills, but despite her background Katharine still found it quite challenging.

“I was getting frustrated,” she shared. “Everything felt harder on my left side.” Because of her ballet background, she chalked this up to having a good and bad side. “We all have an easier side and a harder side, but this gap was just so different.”

Winter passed, spring and summer came and went. All the while Katharine continued to find opportunities to skate despite the pandemic and found that she was beginning to make a fair amount of progress. The more progress, the more noticeable the gap became. What she could easily do on her right side was significantly harder on her left. Despite her on-ice challenges, there were no noticeable changes in her day-to-day life, so Katharine carried on.

In the fall of 2021, Katharine would discover that the gap she was experiencing on her left side was not limited to skating when she returned to a ballet class. Katharine shared: “Stuff that should have been super easy on either foot just wasn’t”. Following this discovery, Katharine immediately made an appointment with her doctor. Regular strength and conditioning tests revealed significantly decreased strength in her left leg. It could have been something neurological, or it could have been the nerves misfiring, but something was “off”. Katharine’s doctor sent her for numerous tests including an MRI.

The MRI revealed a brain tumor 5 centimeters in diameter (about the size of a small lemon), which is considered a large tumor. Things moved swiftly from that point. “20 minutes after my doctor entered my information into the database, he was contacted by a neurosurgeon. With a tumor this size everything is considered urgent.” Within two days, Katharine was sitting in the neurosurgeon’s office and found out she would have surgery as soon as an operating room was available.

On November 25, 2021, Katharine underwent a thirteen-hour brain surgery to have her tumor removed. Her surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor except for 2mm because the section the tumor was located in is a very sensitive area of the brain. Luckily, the surgery left Katharine with no permanent detriments; however, this was just the first step on her road to recovery and in January of 2022 Katharine would begin 27 rounds of radiation.

There was always a risk that Katharine might never skate again but four weeks later, determined and with the permission of her physiotherapist, she was back on the ice. “The first week I could not let go of the boards. The second week, I was able to let go of the boards to do stuff on my right foot. Week three, I was able to do everything next to the boards without holding on. Week four I was able to do backwards edges and by week five I was back to where I was prior to surgery.”

Katharine swears that figure skating saved her life. “If I hadn’t been skating, it could have been extremely, extremely severe. Not that it wasn’t, but it could have gotten to the point that it had done a lot more damage.” She continues to struggle with her left side on the ice but now thinks, “I have sort of reached close to a normal point of it just being a difference between the two.”

Katharine continues to skate and to live her regular day-to-day life. In November of 2022, she competed in her first competition in Adult Introduction Artistic and hopes to have developed enough to also compete an adult freestyle program next season. She has a goal of participating in the next ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Canada. Katharine is a true fighter, determined and resilient. Her story reminds us that it is never too late to try something new, and that skating is for people of all ages and abilities.

Volunteering: The Ultimate Game-Changer for Momo Kano Podolsky

Momo Kano Podolsky’s ten-year journey through sport started with taking a chance.

Let’s rewind back to Skate Canada International (SCI) 2013, where Japanese figure skating star Yuzuru Hanyu was set to compete in Saint John, New Brunswick. Kano Podolsky had always been a casual figure skating fan, tuning in at the Olympics and watching well-known household names like Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko and Bourne and Kratz, but she had never been involved in the sport until she applied to become a volunteer.

Kano Podolsky, who had already purchased tickets to watch the competition, ended up seeing a recruitment posting from Skate Canada for event volunteers and applied before immediately regretting it. Little did she know that initial regret would result in new friendships, a new perspective on sport and the opportunity to use skills and participate in a job she had always been curious about – interpreting.

Her application was initially denied, before she was contacted by the events team to gauge her interest in volunteering in the Media Centre. Kano Podolsky decided to take the plunge, packed her bags and headed to Saint John, arriving the day before competition.

Ten years and 23 events later, Kano Podolsky says that she has learned what it is like to be part of an organizing committee, how to act around athletes and the different duties that come with her important role. “Seeing the amount of behind the scenes work that is involved, how many people are involved. There are so many different pieces and that’s really exciting. You don’t realize these things when you are just a spectator. It’s great to be a part of.”

We asked Podolsky some of her key memories from over the years. Not surprisingly, her first day topped the list. It was the last day before competition, and she was getting a tour of the premise when she passed by Patrick Chan in the interview area of the media centre. Kano Podolsky tried taking a photo only to be told that it was not allowed, learning right there and then what it meant to be working behind the scenes. To this day, her favourite event remains Skate Canada International 2019, which was hosted in Kelowna, B.C.

“It was a huge event; it was totally sold out; any event with Yuzuru Hanyu was sold out and the fans were wild. The Winnie the Poohs were raining down and Nam Nguyen was skating after Yuzuru. Everyone was still trying to pick up the Poohs so he waited quite a long while, then he had the skate of his life. It was the most exciting event.” Nam Nguyen ended up winning the silver medal at this event.

Through the years, her enthusiasm has not faded, as Kano Podolsky was just as excited at Skate Canada International 2022 in Mississauga, Ontario, where she cheered on Japanese pair gold medallists Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. Her proximity to the duo isn’t coincidental; she has gotten to know the young Japanese team quite well since they moved to train in her hometown of Oakville, Ontario. Watching them win at SCI 2022 was all the more enthralling because of this.

Life can be so multifaceted and Momo Kano Podolsky’s story illuminates that. Volunteering has given her a new way to use skills she previously did not get to use in her daily life. By day, prior to retirement, Kano Podolsky was a professor holding a PhD in Sociology. Later in her career, she moved on to become a Graduate Program Administrator at the Munk School of Public Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. This is leaps and bounds from the media work and interpreter work she has gotten to experience directly from volunteering. “I always wanted to be an interpreter and was interested in sport. That part of volunteering at Skate Canada is really interesting to me.”

When asked what she would say to people thinking of signing up to volunteer, she told us: “You have to take the first step and try it and see if you like it – chances are it’s going to be exciting. Getting your jacket and accreditation, it’s just fun and exciting. If you think of volunteering as an opportunity to explore what you can be doing better, it really broadens your life. You’re not doing something you usually do but get to use resources you have.”

Looking back, that one decision in 2013 led to a decade of memories and key moments that have enriched her life. To get to round out your life, build new relationships and be entrenched in something so much bigger than yourself is what it is like to volunteer at a Skate Canada event and for Momo Kano Podolsky, it is something that she would not give up for the world.

 

 

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Click here to view volunteer opportunities at upcoming Skate Canada events.

 

Sportswriter Neil Stevens Remembered for his Contribution to Skating

Neil Stevens was a beacon in the sport of figure skating. Not to be remembered for his twizzles, fast feet, or incredible jumping ability – Stevens will be remembered for his words. A wire reporter with Canadian Press for over 34 years, he covered every national and international figure skating event through the better part of the ‘80s and ‘90s. In total, he covered 22 World Figure Skating Championships, eight Olympic Games and every Canadian Championship during that era.

Stevens passed away from a battle with cancer on April 1, 2022.

He came on the scene in the mid ‘80s, covering numerous household names, such as Kurt Browning, Brian Orser and Elizabeth Manley as well as many other national and international stars. Stevens was the eyes and ears for figure skating fans when Kurt Browning won the world championships in 1989. He was there to tell the story of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier at the 2002 Olympics and, on the cusp of his retirement, he brought us the story of Jeffrey Buttle’s world championship gold medal win in Sweden in 2008. To say he told us many stories about the athletes we love is an understatement.

Just as he will be remembered for his writing, Stevens will also be remembered for his character.

“Neil was a character with character and one of the most professional sports writers to grace his profession. He said what he said he would do, and he did it well,” said Steve Milton, fellow sportswriter from the Hamilton Spectator.

National team members, Kurt Browning and Mike Slipchuk, both spent many hours being interviewed by Stevens during their competitive skating days. Both described Stevens as a reporter who brought comfort and familiarity.

“He was a very familiar face in the crowd,” remembers Slipchuk. Browning recalled that, “mix zones and press conferences felt like wrap parties and Neil was a big part of that.”

Browning would characterize Stevens as a quiet man, almost shy. On his interview style, Browning added, “he had a slow, methodical approach…that had you feeling like a bomb was coming any minute.”

“With Neil, skaters could expect to be asked the unexpected. Still, whether he was asking you an easy or a hard question you could expect it would be fair. With Neil, you had to be prepared for everything. His reporting was true and accurate, whether the story was good or bad,” added Slipchuck.

Browning and Slipchuck both expressed how Stevens had this way of making people feel interesting and special. Stevens was a constant, reliable, and true voice – one that got the respect of the athletes he covered. That respect extended to his fellow media colleagues.

“Neil made the road feel like home. When covering events, days are long sometimes pushing 15 hours. People are away from their families for weeks on end, but Neil kept it light, an essential quality in a group of people all fighting for the same story,” said Milton.
Stevens was soft spoken, poignantly funny and brought familiarity and kindness to a very competitive profession.

“You always knew an event had started because of the balloons tied to the back of his chair,” added Milton.

Well known for bringing flowers and balloons to the media centre at events, Stevens also often brought chocolates for the volunteers. His classic black hat, not quite a fedora, not a cowboy hat either but somewhere in between stood out in a crowd, so skaters always knew, Stevens was in the rink.

His infamous hat. There is a funny story about that hat as told by Kurt Browning. At the World Figure Skating Championships in 1989 in the press conference on the cusp of being crowned world champion, Kurt Browning made a deal with Stevens.

Browning told Stevens, “When I win worlds, you have to give me that hat.” Well, low and behold, Browning won worlds that year and Stevens, true to his word, walked up to Browning in the press conference and gave him his hat.

“Hot damn and the hat fits,” exclaimed Browning.

Browning enjoyed the hat for many years, he eventually returned it to Stevens. The hat had to go back to its rightful place.

A Hall of Fame member in both Hockey and Lacrosse, he contributed thousands of stories over his 34 years and the story was always about the story. Stevens covered 20 Stanley Cup finals, four Canada Cup hockey tournaments, 8 National Lacrosse League Championship games as well as countless other sporting events during his tenure.

Stevens was there in 1987 when Mario Lemieux scored the winning goal in 1987 Canada Cup. At Silken Laumann’s silver medal at the 1996 Olympics and again when Canada’s men won Olympic hockey gold in 2002.

As an expert in many disciplines Stevens was able to bring an eye from more traditional sports, which permitted him to tell the story of figure skating as a sport onto itself. He was the consummate professional who always hit his deadline. Something not easy to do, especially during the 80’s. As a Canadian Press reporter Stevens would be responsible for collecting all the standings, typing in every score and making sure it was correct. Which it always was.

For the most part a writer’s voice is silent, the words we hear in our head when we read them don’t necessarily sound like the person who wrote them and for 34 years Stevens was that voice in many figure skating fans heads. He was the public’s gateway to some of the biggest moments in sporting history and he elevated the authenticity of figure skating at a time when it felt like everyone was falling in love with it. He brought comfort, familiarity, and fun to those around him.

Skate Canada thanks Stevens for his contribution to skating and sends its sincere condolences to his family and friends. His legacy in skating will live on through his words and there is no doubt that his reputation and professional presence will be the benchmark for many sports writers to come.

Community Story Series – The Men Behind the Music

Take a minute and envision what figure skating would be without music? We all know that music has the ability to amplify emotions, it can pump people up, and bring up feelings of happiness or melancholy. The difference of where a beat lands, or a certain instrument enters the song, can change everything. Meet Hugo Chouinard, the owner/founder of Sk8mix and the man behind much of the music in figure skating. How many routines do Hugo and composing partner, Karl Hugo, contribute to? (Yes, they are both named Hugo 😊) Well, at this year’s Olympic Winter Games, Hugo and Karl lent their talents to 51 different athletes from 14 different countries.

This is not Hugo’s first endeavour in figure skating. He used to be an ice dancer – and a pretty good one, in fact. Hugo and his partner finished fourth on the Junior Grand Prix circuit in 1993 and used to skate on the Canadian National Team before retiring from competition in 1995. At that time, when he was just 16 years of age, Hugo began tinkering with musical arrangements for his own routines and started out on a four-track tape recorder in his bedroom. One year later, he purchased his first computer system designed solely for music editing.

Over time, word got around, and skaters started coming to Hugo with requests for their own programs. Today, what started out as a way to improve his own figure skating programs, has grown into a full-scale business. On average, Hugo creates approximately 2,200 arrangements a year, for any level of athletes, some of which include original composition by Karl.

Cool fact! Most skaters design their music to fit their routine. What does this mean, though? To design the music to fit the routine? Well, sometimes it can be slowing down the crescendo, so it hits just perfectly on the throw in a pairs program. Or, it might mean having his partner Karl compose a song for an athlete from a video of their choreography, much like how movie soundtracks are composed. In addition to this, sometimes Karl will compose a musical bridge bringing two songs together. It is all dependent on the needs of the skater for that particular routine.

So, how much is there to the music that backs figure skating programs? Quite a lot, it seems. First off, you need to find the perfect music to highlight the skaters’ skills and Hugo has put together numerous Spotify playlists to help this crucial part of the process. There are strict rules about the length of routines. In Ice Dance, you must have audible beats throughout the program, so overlay composition is frequently required to make sure there won’t be any music deductions. According to Hugo, skaters from the National level and above often continue to modify their arrangement throughout the season, as choreographers and/or athletes rearrange and fine-tune their programs. This means the finished product that is unveiled at an event, such as this year’s Olympic Winter Games, has gone through numerous iterations before we see it in competition and it may be different from one competition to another. There is so much more to music than one could imagine.

This is quite the job, as Hugo and Karl create arrangements for artistic swimming and gymnastics, as well. When you add this to the work they do in figure skating, Hugo has created over 51,000 arrangements to date, adding up to countless hours in the studio.

Hugo and Karl really are the music men of figure skating. One could also argue given his previous participation as a skater and as a coach, as well as the top music service provider to the world’s most elite figure skaters, that Hugo Chouinard lives, breathes, and genuinely loves figure skating. Hugo has found a way, through the combination of his passions, to stay involved in skating for life and his legacy will live on in legendary and recognizable figure skating programs for all time.

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Skate Canada’s Skate for Life programs support and encourage skating for well-being, health and enjoyment. Information about our programs can be found at www.skatecanada.ca.

You can find Hugo Chouinard on Instagram @sk8mixhugo and via his website https://sk8mix.pro/.

The Skate Canada Community Story Series will cover exciting stories from our sections, community skaters and coaches. If you have a story from your club or section that you would like to share with us, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Skate Canada at [email protected].

A Community Story Series – “The Harder You Work, The More Results Will Come”

Community Story Series – Andrew Evans – Episode 4 

“The Harder You Work, The More Results Will Come” 

Andrew Evans came to his coaching career the way many athletic coaches do; he was an athlete first. At the age of five his parents enrolled him in Skate Canada’s CanSkate program at Chinguacousy FSC in Brampton, Ontario.  

As life went on, Andrew became more involved in figure skating. Originally competing as a singles skater, Andrew eventually moved to pairs and began skating with partner Carolyn MacCuish. As a team, Evans and MacCuish enjoyed some success, culminating in 2007 when they were crowned National Junior Pair Champions at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia 

In 2008 MacCuish and Andrew went their separate ways. For the next few years Andrew found himself working with a variety of different partners but never producing “super impressive results.” Working with new partners was bringing something out in Andrew at the time that would eventually bring him to the next step in his career, coaching. As a pairs skater working with new partners, he often found himself teaching, and sharing his experience. A skill that lends itself exceptionally well to being a coach.  

Fast forward to today, Andrew is part of the coaching team at the Canadian Ice Academy and the Mississauga Skating Academy. To Andrew being a coach means, “helping skaters achieve their goals and learning lessons along the way. High-level sports help teach athletes discipline, punctuality, respect and perseverance. All skills athletes can use further on in life.”  

Like all things, coaching requires motivation, planning, and discipline. All of this in conjunction with his ability to oversee his own success keeps him motivated. Every day he works with an athlete, “there is always a next step to take.” It is about teaching skaters that it is normal to start with a goal, such as qualifying for Sectionals, then a few years down the road to set your sights a little higher. Andrew is there to help skaters learn, the harder they work, the more the results will come. A motto he also carries with himself as he continues to develop his coaching career.  

Andrew is a reminder of how dreams develop over time. His first ambition to skate competitively has taken many forms since he started skating at five years old. The one thing that has never changed though is his love of the sport. “Figure skating is my life. It’s how I met my wife, it’s what bonds me with my best friends. It’s taught me work ethic and discipline. I could talk about it all day, every day – and often do.”  

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Skate Canada’s Skate for Life programs support and encourage skating for wellbeing, health and enjoyment. Information about our programs can be found at www.skatecanada.ca. 

You can find Andrew Evans on Instagram @coachandrewevans. 

The Skate Canada Community Story Series will cover exciting stories from our sections, community skaters and coaches. If you have a story from your club or section that you would like to share with us, we would love too here from you. Please contact Skate Canada at [email protected]. 

A Community Story Series with Abby Bennett – Live From 2022 Skate Canada Challenge

A true story of family and triumph, learn how Abby Bennett overcame a cancer diagnosis to skate her personal best at the 2022 Skate Canada Challenge