Tag Archive for: 2014 Skate Canada Achievement Awards

Outstanding members honoured at 2014 Skate Canada Achievement Awards Gala

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

The recipients were presented with their awards on Friday night at the annual awards gala. The winners received their awards from various presenters, including Olympic silver medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, world silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, and Kristen Loritz, team captain of world synchronized skating silver medalists, Nexxice.

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 2013-2014 recipients are:

  • Skate Canada Club and Recreational Coach Award of Excellence
    Lynda Thompson, Hamilton Skating Club, Western Ontario Section
  • Skate Canada Competitive Coach Award of Excellence
    Brian Orser, Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club, Central Ontario Section
  • Skate Canada Officials Award of Excellence
    Karen Howard, Skate Regina, Saskatchewan Section
  • Elizabeth Swan Memorial Award
    Debbie Beauchamp, Burlington Skating Centre, Western Ontario Section
  • Billie Mitchell Award
    Debbie MacMurdo, Kensington Area FSC, Prince Edward Island Section

Skate Canada also presents a volunteer award to one member of each of the 13 Skate Canada sections. The following exceptional volunteers have been awarded the 2013-2014 Skate Canada Section Volunteer Award of Excellence:

  • British Columbia/Yukon Section
    Laura Carr, Kelowna FSC
  • Alberta/NWT/Nunavut Section
    Lee Johnson, Grand Prairie SC
  • Saskatchewan Section
    Ivan Hruska, Skate Esterhazy
  • Manitoba Section
    Linda Melnick, The Pas SC
  • Northern Ontario Section
    Stephanie LaFleur-Morin, Ignace SC
  • Western Ontario Section
    Vermell Stevens, Woodstock SC
  • Central Ontario Section
    Kathy Adams, Meaford Amateur Athletic FSC
  • Eastern Ontario Section
    Ann Monaghan, Bowmanville FSC
  • Quebec Section
    Pierrette Boissonneault, CPA Laval
  • New Brunswick Section
    Nicole LeBlanc-Richard, Dieppe Gold Blades
  • Prince Edward Island Section
    Lynne Beairsto, Sherwood Parkdale FSC
  • Nova Scotia Section
    Tammy Conistis, Halifax SC
  • Newfoundland/Labrador Section
    Gail Hopkins, Flying Blades FSC

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
    Jade Laplante, CPA Les Lames d’Argent de Laval, Quebec Section
  • Skate Canada Section STARSkate Athlete Award
    Chelsea Abraham, CPA Asticou, Quebec Section
  • Skate Canada Section CompetitiveSkate Athlete Award
    Joseph Phan, CPA Asticou, Quebec Section

Widely respected skating official Laura Carr learning the ropes in new sport

Laura Carr is learning all over again.

A widely-respected national level figure skating judge and controller for more than 17 years, Carr, the deserving recipient of the 2014 Skate Canada Section Volunteer Award of Excellence at this week’s  ACGM and National Coaches’ Conference in Quebec City, is in learning mode in speed skating, a sport that is essentially foreign to her. Carr’s oldest daughter, 15-year-old Rosalyn, moved from figure skating to short track in December and has already left her mark, advancing to the Canada West Short Track Championships earlier this year.

As Carr explains, Rosalyn didn’t want to leave figure skating but, like many athletes her age, she simply outgrew the sport.

“She (Rosalyn) told me ‘I love figure skating, but figure skating doesn’t love my body’”, says Carr with a laugh.

And with that, Carr is starting from scratch and learning the basics. With a lifetime of experience as a figure skating official, Carr has recently been approached to train as a Level I speed skating official.

“Getting a child involved in a sport I know nothing about has been really eye opening,” she admits. “When you eat, breathe and sleep figure skating, there is a lot of information you know that you take for granted.

“I think I drove everyone at speed skating crazy because of the questions.”

Success seems to run in the Carr family. The youngest daughter, Daria, captured the BC/YK Super Series pre-juvenile under-11 crown this year.

“It’s great having kids in different sports,” says Carr.

“They have their individual passions, and both of them have found something they’re very good at. They both love to compete. It’s my job to try to keep up to them.”

Taking home a Skate Canada national award is becoming a bit of a habit for Carr, who is Vice Chair of the BC/YK section. Just two years ago, she was the recipient of the Skate Canada Officials Award of Excellence.

“It is very humbling when your peers recognize you like this,” says Carr. “It’s nice to be recognized, but that is not why you do it. It is in honour, but you do this for the love of the sport.”

“You see where you can help out, and you just step in and do the job. As you discover where your strengths and skillsets are, you channel you energy into trying to make a difference.”

Carr is a vital asset for the BC/YK section, and has been instrumental in developing program criteria and standards while overseeing implementation of the STARSkate pilot for her home section.

“Laura is an incredible resource for this organization, not only here in BC, but across the country,” says BC/YK Executive Director Ted Barton. “As with all our great volunteers, Laura is essentially an extension of the staff because of the amount of work she does. She shares the type of vision that helps us grow. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

A year ago, Carr was invited to judge at Skate Detroit, and will make a return trip this summer. As for career aspirations on the international stage, Carr is playing that one close to the vest.

“I’ll see where it takes me. If I feel I have the skills and support around me, I’ll go for it. For now, I am just taking things one day, one event, at a time.”

Carr is quick to deflect some of the credit to others she has worked and brainstormed with, including Patricia Chafe, Sally Rehorick, Janice Hunter, Susan Heffernan and Ted Barton, stressing their progressive thinking and complex data analysis is helping grow the sport at the section and national level.

“The knowledge I have gained from those around me is invaluable,” says Carr. “If you can turn yourself into a sponge, something good is going to come of it. Don’t be afraid to question something, or try something new. If you can do something that makes a difference, it is better for skating and creates a better environment for everyone.

“That’s what keeps me going. We all have these minds that say ‘What can we do? Where can we go?’ Not ‘We can’t, we can’t’ – but ‘why not’?

“You’ll find success if you keep going down that road.”

From Hamilton to the Northwest Territories, Lynda Thompson spreading her teaching expertise across the miles

If history is any indication, Lynda Thompson could very well be witnessing the next monumental Canadian sporting moment from a hotel room.

Much like that October Saturday night 22 years ago, when the highly-regarded skating coach watched the Toronto Blue Jays capture their first World Series championship from the cozy confines of the Sheraton in downtown Hamilton, Ontario.

Or four years ago, as Vancouver took a bow before the world during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Thompson looked on from her hotel in Inuvik, where she had ventured to lend her vast coaching expertise.

“That is how I relate to those two events,” Thompson laughs, referring to the World Series and Vancouver Games.

“I know when it was, because of where I was when it happened. I’ll never forget either of those nights.”

This week, just six years after being bestowed with Skate Canada’s Best of the Best Award for CanSkate delivery, Thompson, from the Hamilton Skating Club, will be honoured with the Skate Canada Club and Recreational Coach Award of Excellence during the organization’s ACGM and National Coaches’ Conference in historic Quebec City, Que.

“It’s extremely humbling, and it’s been very emotional for me since I heard the news,” Thompson admits. “It really means a lot to me. I can’t even really talk about it without getting choked up.”

It’s been an often alluring, always rewarding journey for Thompson, who began skating at the Richmond Hill Arena as a youngster and later went on to spend two years with the Ice Capades in the mid-1970s. Half a decade later, she began teaching in Richmond Hill and, when her husband accepted a job transfer to Hamilton, she began teaching at the Dofasco Skating Club in Steeltown.

Not long after her arrival in Hamilton, she met Ron Shaver, who convinced Thompson to come teach part time at the Hamilton Skating Club. After splitting her time between the two clubs for a few years, Thompson made the jump to Hamilton full-time.

She’s been there ever since.

Of all the memories she carries close to her heart, one that stands out is the unique relationship formed with each and every skater under her tutelage.

“You know the impact you have had on each and every skater is truly special,” she says. “And they’ve had the same impact on me. You’ve been part of their life, they’ve been part of yours, and that will never change. There will always be that connection.”

For Thompson, those relationships are personal.

“Ages three, four or five, it’s because mom and dad want them to skate. After six or eight weeks, it becomes almost magical. You see the kids standing up on the ice and taking those first strides, and you see the parents smiling. You get tears in your eyes watching those parents.

“At the other end, you have the adults, and they’ve never skated in their lives. Maybe they just want to skate with the family on the canal in Ottawa, and they come to us to help get them there.

“Whether they are 3 or 53, everyone is there for the same reason. No matter the age, they just want to skate.”

In the fall of 2009, Thompson broadened her coaching horizons by making the long trip to the Northwest Territories when a temporary opportunity became available.

Thompson says that initial two-month experience changed her life. Weeks later, she returned to the Northwest Territories and watched the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony with two of her students – Kathleen and Megan – from an Inuvik hotel room.

“It gave me more than I ever thought it would,” Thompson admits.  “Helping others out was very rewarding. It was a total life experience.”

She has remained loyal to her Hamilton coaching roots, but still makes the annual trip to the Northwest Territories to teach.

“I still like going to those communities, to share my experiences in places that don’t necessarily have a lot of teaching resources. Those kids have the same love of skating as anyone else.”

With the dawning of the new CanSkate curriculum on the horizon later this summer, Thompson says Hamilton, one of the pilot clubs for the project, is raring to go, adding it won’t take long for other clubs across the country to hop on that bandwagon.

“The new CanSkate is going to be tremendous for our clubs and coaches, coast to coast,” she says. “We always want to make our programs better, always want more, and this is going to do that.

“This is the gold seal, and it is going to be even better. We’re on a good path.”

“This will be game-changing.”

Something Lynda Thompson knows a thing or two about.

Marty Henwood