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Learn to Skate at Your Local Skate Canada Club

OTTAWA, ON: The 2019-2020 ice skating season is beginning in many communities across Canada and all Canadians have the opportunity to register for skating programs at your local Skate Canada club or skating school. Skating is an integral part of the Canadian experience, and with a diverse offering of programs, aspiring participants of all ages can learn at their own speed.

Skate Canada is pleased to offer CanSkate, presented by Canadian Tire, the number one learn-to-skate program in the country. CanSkate is accessible to all Canadians and has been implemented in member clubs and skating schools nationwide.

The CanSkate program is based on principles of Sport Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD), and offers custom tools, professional coaching, a tested and proven curriculum, and delivery methods that guarantee strong basic skills and quicker skating development. The CanSkate program also teaches skills that prepare skaters for other popular Canadian ice sports such as hockey, ringette and speed skating, by working on the skaters’ balance, control and agility.

Learning to skate is a natural part of Canadian life. From early steps on the ice, holding onto a parent’s hand, to skating at a family activity, or moving on to other ice sports, skating is an enriching, active experience. Skate Canada offers three  programs, from CanSkate for beginners of any age to, STAR 1-5 as an introduction of figure skating and CanPowerSkate for the enhancement of skating skills for hockey and ringette.

Skating opportunities include:

  • Synchronized Skating – for those looking to develop skills and participate in skating as a team
  • Adaptive Skating – options are available within all of our programs for the development of skating skills. Contact your local club for details.
  • Adult Skating – options are available through programs. Contact your local skating club for details and availability.

All Skate Canada member coaches hold National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) status, first aid and valid police clearance checks. Quality instruction is available at all 1,200 member clubs and skating schools across the country.

To learn more about skating programs near you, please contact your nearest club using Skate Canada’s Find a Club and let’s get skating Canada!

Learn to Skate at Your Local Skate Canada Club

OTTAWA, ON: The 2018-2019 ice skating season is beginning in many communities across Canada and all Canadians have the opportunity to register for skating programs at your local Skate Canada club or skating school.  Skating is an integral part of the Canadian experience, and with a diverse offering of programs, aspiring participants of all ages can learn at their own pace.

Skate Canada is thrilled to offer CanSkate, presented by Canadian Tire, the number one learn-to-skate program in the country. CanSkate is accessible to all Canadians and has been implemented in all member clubs and skating schools nationwide.

The CanSkate program is based on principles of Sport Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD), and offers custom tools, professional coaching, a tested and proven curriculum, and delivery methods that guarantee strong basic skills and quicker skating development. The CanSkate program also teaches skills that prepare skaters for other popular Canadian sports like hockey, ringette and speed skating, by working on the skaters’ balance, speed, control and agility.

Learning to skate is a natural part of Canadian life. From early steps on the ice, holding onto a parent’s hand, to skating as a family activity, or moving on to other ice sports, skating is an enriching, active experience. Skate Canada offers a wide-range of programs, from CanSkate for beginners of any age to AdultSkate, for adults looking to continue their healthy lifestyle. For those looking to join a team, our Synchronized Skating programs are tailored for groups of eight or more skaters performing as a team.

Skating opportunities include:

  • CanPowerSkate – with a focus on balance, control and agility, this program is perfect for those looking to enhance specialized skating skills specifically for hockey and ringette.
  • Figure Skating – STAR 1-5 is a diverse program that offers figure skating fundamentals and aims to enhance skills in four different disciplines.
  • Adaptive Skating – options are available with all our programs for the development of skating skills. Contact your local club for details.
  • Adult Skating – options are available through programs. Contact your local skating club for details and availability.

All Skate Canada member coaches hold National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) status, first aid and valid police clearance checks and quality instruction is available at all 1,200 member clubs and skating schools across the country.

To learn more about skating programs near you, please contact your nearest club using Skate Canada’s Find a Club and get skating with us!

Learn to Skate at Your Local Skate Canada Club

OTTAWA, ON: The 2017-2018 ice skating season is beginning in many communities across Canada and all Canadians have the opportunity to register for skating programs at your local Skate Canada club or skating school.  Skating is an integral part of the Canadian experience, and with a diverse offering of programs, aspiring participants of all ages can learn at their own pace.

Skate Canada is thrilled to offer CanSkate, presented by Canadian Tire, the number one learn-to-skate program in the country. CanSkate is accessible to all Canadians and has been implemented in /learn-to-skate/canskate/all member clubs and skating schools nationwide.

The CanSkate program is based on principles of Sport Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), and offers custom tools, professional coaching, a tested and proven curriculum, and delivery methods that guarantee strong basic skills and quicker skating development. The CanSkate program also teaches skills that prepare skaters for other popular Canadian sports like hockey, ringette and speed skating, by working on the skaters’ balance, speed, control and agility.

Learning to skate is a natural part of Canadian life. From early steps on the ice, holding onto a parent’s hand, to skating as a family activity, or moving on to other ice sports, skating is an enriching, active experience. Skate Canada offers a wide-range of programs, from CanSkate for beginners of any age to AdultSkate, for adults looking to continue their healthy lifestyle. For those looking to join a team, our Synchronized Skating programs are tailored for groups of eight or more skaters performing as a team.

Other programs clubs/schools may offer include:

  • CanPowerSkate – with a focus on balance, power, agility and endurance, this program is perfect for those looking to enhance their hockey and ringette skating skills.
  • STARSkate – a diverse program that aims to enhance figure skating skills in four different disciplines.
  • CompetitiveSkate – a program that aims to identify and enhance potential competitive skating talent, by incorporating tests and other training opportunities into the curriculum.
  • AdultSkate – dynamic program offering CanSkate, STARSkate and CanPowerSkate programs aimed at adults.
  • SynchroSkate – streamlined discipline of skating that involves groups of eight or more skaters performing various group formations and manoeuvres.
  • Athletes with a disability and Special Olympic athletes may join in any and all of the Skate Canada programs.

All Skate Canada member coaches hold National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) certification, first aid and valid police clearance checks and quality instruction is available at all 1,200 member clubs and skating schools across the country.

 

Week in Skating Photos: Motivation Monday

Although our Mondays may seem similar to this (video).

 

Let’s look forward to things that make us smile

Alodia first skating lesson #alodia #canskate

A photo posted by Roxanne Tunacao (@roxie_tunacao) on

 

Whether it is thinking about pizza,

Coach Sarah’s Creative Pre-Can Pizza! @saraheastwood_ #skatingfun #CanSkate

A photo posted by Sherwood Park Skating Club (@sherwoodparkskating) on

 

Or spending time with good friends.

Fly ducks, fly!?⛸#toepick

A photo posted by Fitness | Family | Faith (@tandresen) on

 

Grab a cup of coffee or a bottle of Gatorade to keep you going.

 

A little progress each day adds up to big results (video).

Big sister @jajabella1 encouraging her little brother to skate! #love #skating #canskate

A video posted by Ame (@ame2608) on

 

Share your passion with others.

 

It is easier when you have someone to lean on.

First night at CanSkate! #canskate #futuregirlfriendmaybe #lovesthegirls

A photo posted by Janis Kane (@kanejanis) on

 

And don’t be afraid to try something new.

 

Tag #CanSkate and #SkateCanada on Instagram and Twitter and you can be featured on our blog.

Have you seen last week’s Week in Skating Photos: Thanksgiving Edition?

Follow Skate Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more pics all week long!

Growth of sledge participation in CanSkate program “beyond what we dreamed”

At first, Noah Robichaud found his source of inspiration in a television commercial.

Now the teenager is inspiring others to chase their own dreams.

It’s been about a year since the 16-year-old from Penobsquis, NB, who lives with cerebral palsy, was in rehabilitation following another surgery when he saw a commercial featuring his hero Sidney Crosby, playing sledge hockey.

In that moment, a dream was born.

Not long after, Noah left the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation with a sledge of his own, donated by Para New Brunswick. Once they returned home Noah’s mother, Tammy, called the nearby Sussex Skating Club to inquire about a skating program for children with special needs. Physical and occupational therapists were consulted and, last October, Noah began CanSkate lessons with coaches Kirsten Graham and Stacey Rouse-Charlton.

Almost a year after Noah took his first lesson, the sledge program is growing at an astounding rate.

This season, five sledge skaters will take to the ice with their classmates for lessons in Skate Canada’s flagship learn-to-skate program, CanSkate.

sledge5

“These kids have seen their fair share of disappointment, and we are not going to let anyone tell them they can’t do something,” says Rouse-Charlton, who credits several organizations supporting the initiative including Recreation NB and Para New Brunswick.

“CanSkate is inclusive for everyone who wants to learn to skate. Seeing the joy, that is what it is all about, and letting these kids know that, yes, they are equal. Skating on a sledge is skating.”

The inclusiveness of the program has caught the attention of others. Rouse-Charlton and her club were recently honoured with two distinguished awards: the CoachNB Everyone Matters Award and the Randy Dickinson Community Inclusion Award.

sledge1

The awards mean a lot to Rouse-Charlton and her Sussex colleagues, but they aren’t doing this for the accolades.

They want to make a difference in the lives of others.

“This has never been about making my life better,” says Rouse-Charlton. “This is all about making their lives better. But being recognized shows the trust that others, especially the parents, have in what we are doing.

“That means everything to us.”

The fast-track growth of the program has caught everyone off guard. Noah’s story made headlines in the Maritimes, and the reaction has been overwhelming.

Rouse-Charlton, who has been involved in skating all her life and has been teaching CanSkate for seven years, admits she was hesitant about starting the sledge program.

“I’ll be honest, I was terrified at the beginning,” she admits. “You always have a fear of the unknown. But if you are willing to put those fears aside and just give it a try, it can change lives. We are a small club. And we are proof that anything is possible.”

“The program just keeps growing. This is beyond what we dreamed.”

And it is about more than learning to skate. The program is teaching life lessons and the importance of inclusion. Rouse-Charlton sees this everyday.

“Other kids on the ice look up to these kids, and are inspired by them,” she says. “The friendships that are being built are truly special. All the kids admire our sledge athletes.”

“There are life lessons being taught here with these kids –  how we are all equal. We could all learn a little from what we have going on here.”

If you are interested in discussing the sledge CanSkate program with Stacey Rouse-Charlton, please email [email protected]

Register to Skate at Your Local Skate Canada Club!

Skate Canada is excited to kick off the 2016-2017 skating season with a reminder to register for skating programs at your local Skate Canada club or skating school. Skating is an integral part of the Canadian experience, and with a diverse offering of programs, aspiring participants of all-ages can learn at their own pace. All Skate Canada member coaches hold National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) certification, first aid and valid police clearance checks and quality instruction is available at all 1,200 member clubs and skating schools across the country.

We are pleased to announce that registration for the 2016-2017 season is officially underway! Skate Canada is happy to offer a wide-range of programs, from CanSkate, presented by Canadian Tire, for beginners of any age to AdultSkate, for adults looking to continue their healthy lifestyle. For those looking to join a team, our Synchronized Skating  programs are tailored for groups of eight or more skaters performing as a team.

Skate Canada’s recently revitalized CanSkate program is accessible to all Canadians and has been implemented in all member clubs and skating schools nationwide. The CanSkate program is based on principles of Sport Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), and offers great tools, great coaching and a tested and proven curriculum and delivery methods that guarantee for strong basic skills and quicker skating development. The CanSkate program also teaches skills that prepare skaters for   other popular Canadian sports like hockey, ringette and speed skating, by working on the skaters’ balance, speed, control and agility.

Other programs clubs may offer include:

  • CanPowerSkate, with a focus on balance, power, agility and endurance, this program is perfect for those looking to enhance their hockey and ringette skating skills.
  • STARSkate, a diverse program that aims to enhance figure skating skills in four different disciplines.
  • CompetitiveSkate, a program that aims to identify and enhance potential competitive skating talent, by incorporating tests and other training opportunities into the curriculum.
  • AdultSkate, dynamic program offering CanSkate, STARSkate and CanPowerSkate programs aimed at adults.
  • SynchroSkate, streamlined discipline of skating that involves groups of eight or more skaters performing various group formations and manoeuvres.
  • Athletes with a disability and Special Olympic athletes may join in any and all of the Skate Canada programs.

Learning to skate is a natural part of Canadian life. From early steps on the ice, holding onto a parent’s hand, to skating as a family activity, or moving on to other ice sports, skating offers a rich, active experience. Skate Canada’s wide array of programs have been designed to cover all aspects of skating development, and there is a program right for you!

To learn more about skating programs near you, please contact your nearest club using Skate Canada’s Find a Club page or visit Skate Canada’s website at www.skatecanada.ca under the ‘Skating Lessons’ tab and get skating with us!

Teen living with cerebral palsy capturing hearts while putting the CAN in CanSkate

Sidney Crosby inspired a dream.

Noah Robichaud is taking it from there.

The affable 15-year-old from Penobsquis, NB, who lives with cerebral palsy, is capturing hearts in his small Maritime community as he continues his inspirational journey in CanSkate, Canada’s flagship learn-to-skate program.

And he’s doing it sitting down, on a sledge.

“I’ve never seen him smile so much as when he’s on that ice,” says Tammy Robichaud, Noah’s mother, her voice starting to crack with emotion.

“He’s not treated any different than anyone else. He’s just one of the kids out there.”

“He’s been through so much, and he never complains. Noah always wanted to skate, but we just never looked into it. But once he saw that commercial…”

Noah Robichaud

A commercial Tammy Robichaud says changed Noah’s life. Going through yet another round of rehabilitation following surgery this past summer, Noah was watching TV when he saw a Gatorade commercial featuring Crosby playing sledge hockey with several disabled athletes.

The dream was born. Noah formed the steel resolve that he was going to be just like Crosby, his childhood hero. So ironclad was that resolve that when Noah left the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in nearby Fredericton, a sledge, loaned from Para New Brunswick, made the trip home with him.

Through social media, Tammy Robichaud reached out to the Sussex Skating Club, a mere ten minutes from their home in Penobsquis N.B., to inquire about a skating program for special needs children. Club officials worked with Skate Canada, and planning began. Coach Kirsten Graham, herself a CanSkate graduate from the club, trained with Para New Brunswick to help her prepare.

Weeks after bringing that sledge home, on October 7th, Noah took his first CanSkate lesson.

“When he falls over, he finds it hilarious and he just keeps laughing,” says Stacey Rouse-Charlton, head coach at Sussex Skating Club. “You can see every little bit of achievement from lesson to lesson.”

“Oh, yes, he’s not falling over nearly as much,” laughs Tammy Robichaud when asked if she sees her son progressing after his first couple of weeks on the ice.

“This has been life changing not only for Noah, but for a lot of us at the club, as well,” adds Rouse-Charlton. “I have never seen a child so happy. That smile widens with each lesson. We are a pretty small club, so to be able to work with a child like this is extremely gratifying. He is a very special young man.”

Noah RobichaudSporting his Crosby jersey, Noah takes to the ice twice a week to work with Graham. Sitting in the stands, Tammy Robichaud cheers her son on as he makes his way around the modified CanSkate circuits, a mother sharing a cloud with her son as they live a dream.

Their dream.

“I hope this shows that just because a child has a disability, doesn’t mean they should be held back,” adds Tammy Robichaud. “Every child can do whatever they want, be whoever they want.”

“Noah’s story is one of inspiration and perseverance, and a testament to the true strength of the human spirit,” says Skate Canada CEO Dan Thompson. “Skate Canada is committed to continue to find ways of providing inclusive initiatives allowing all Canadians to embrace the joy of skating.”

“As a mom, nothing else matters but seeing him happy,” says Tammy. “He is a kid learning to skate, like everyone else.”

Rouse-Charlton says the largest hurdle the club has faced with Noah was finding a convenient way of getting him on and off the ice. A local contractor, whose daughter is taking CanSkate at the club, built a custom-made ramp for the club.

Word is starting to spread. The little club in New Brunswick has received several calls about the program and soon, one of Noah’s young friends will start lessons, once doctors and physiotherapists have given their stamp of approval.

“That is a special kid right there,” says Rouse-Charlton of Noah. “He’s not sitting on the sidelines saying ‘look at me, I have cerebral palsy.’

“He’s saying ‘look at me, I have cerebral palsy and can skate.’”

Canadore College Students Skate for the First Time

Many skating clubs across Canada are incredibly successful and boast of ever increasing enrollment. Others are facing huge operational challenges. Costs are rising dramatically while membership in some areas is dropping due to competition from other activities and a changing demographic. Even the limited pool of dedicated volunteers is shrinking.

Some clubs like the North Bay Figure Skating Club in Northern Ontario have resorted to developing fundraising initiatives to help defray some of their costs. While the old tried and true fund-raising events have proven to be moderately successful in the past, with dwindling resources and opportunities, this season the club realized it had to get creative and find a fresh new approach to ease the bottom line.

But how?

The club already had history with Canadore College, North Bay’s College of Applied Arts and Technology, when students from the Marketing and Advertising Program helped develop the club’s marketing plans to recruit new members and promote the club to the community. One day during a chance conversation at the rink between a CanSkate parent and the club’s CanSkate Coordinator, the discussion focused on involving the college once again, this time by attracting its international students through some kind of learn-to-skate program.

Bingo!

With the College’s significant international student body, many of whom have never seen ice and snow, the idea of collaborating with the club to create a pilot learn-to-skate program could offer students a brand new Canadian experience.

Fraser Mowat, the College’s International Officer, was quick to see the benefits. “Skating is a slippery experience for all of us and if you have never skated before, the whole experience can be frightening. By using the expertise of the local skating club, the students would gain the ability to challenge the ice and learn from the best.”

North Bay Figure Skating Club President David Villeneuve, also a professor at the college, knew the idea was a perfect fit. “I pursued this partnership and although it took a lot of discussion, we managed to work out some shared ice time with our Preschool program. We knew it would be challenging for the Club and certainly for the coaches that had to deliver the program, but the concept was new, innovative and exciting.”

Once the College was on board, the club moved fast. The idea took root in October with a goal to have the program operating by December. With only two months to figure out the details, planning went into overdrive.

Number one consideration was to create a reasonable environment for these adult skaters. “We decided to split a portion of our Preschool ice,” said David, “so the college-age skaters wouldn’t feel too self-conscious.”

Skating student gets help tying skates.

Photo: PJ Wilson

Another challenge faced was encouraging participants to recognize the need for good equipment. Although Canadore College and the International Department provided skates and helmets, some skaters came with their own skates that had been bought online or from friends … very poor quality, no ankle support and blades so dull, they couldn’t cut through butter.

Designing the actual on-ice program was another exercise in creativity. With coaches and the club working together, it was decided that each student group would have three 45-minute sessions.

Coach Cara Song realized there might be other special circumstances in designing the program. “Considering possible language barriers and differing skating capabilities, running a laid back program that centered on the skaters’ needs and concentrated on the basics seemed to be the best approach.”

The coaches looked forward to every new group of students. “The very first day was so exciting”, admitted Cara. “Initially there were 23 students registered for the first session, and because for most of them it was their first time taking public transit to the rink, they all came staggering in late. We had set up signs all around the arena and were anxiously waiting to meet everyone.”

Standing rink side, David will never forget watching students take those first tentative steps on the ice. “Everyone was clinging to the boards! But with the help and encouragement of our coaches and PA’s the new skaters had an incredible first day. They enjoyed themselves to the point that they were taking selfies and group pictures in their equipment to post on Facebook for family and friends back home.”

Cara agreed. “Everyone was so excited and eager to be there. We had students from all around the world … Asia, Europe, South America. With the exception of a couple of people, most had never ice skated before. There were a few that really picked it up naturally; a handful that relied on skills they had from other sports, like rollerblading; and about half the group that started the session clinging to the boards.”

Language never seemed to be a problem for CanSkate Senior Program Assistant Callie O’Connor. “A couple of times I found myself having to demonstrate and visually show them what to do instead of simply saying it, but obviously over time, they understood clearly.”

One of the first students was Breno da Nobrega Bezerra from Natal, Brazil. “I was excited wondering how it would be and I was a little scared of skating. I had tried do it one time before in Ottawa but I didn’t have the right equipment and I didn’t know how to do it, so I was very happy when some friends talked to me about the skating class.”

“Each class I could improve a little and learn some new things. The instructors helped me to gain confidence, so in the end of skating lessons I had enough confidence to play on ice. It was a great moment for me. I will never forget that!” – Breno da Nobrega Bezerra

For Coach Cara, it was an incredible program in which to be involved. “When you’re working with teens or adults in CanSkate or learn to skate programs, I find there’s a unique passion among the skaters. They all genuinely want to be there. With these international students, their excitement was contagious, and I found myself appreciating the sport more after experiencing it through their fresh eyes.”

Canadore College student learns to skate.

Photo: PJ Wilson

The end results have been inspiring for everyone.

From Canadore’s perspective, Fraser Mowat acknowledged how much all of the students loved the experience and considered it a highlight of their time living in North Bay. “Most of them wanted to go back for more lessons. A few of the students have borrowed skates and gone on their own after finishing their classes.”

Breno is one of them. “Each class I could improve a little and learn some new things. The instructors helped me to gain confidence, so in the end of skating lessons I had enough confidence to play on ice. It was a great moment for me. I will never forget that!”

Cheryl Maltby, another member of the coaching team, was thrilled by the students’ reactions, “On the last day some of the skaters were saying to me that they were going to continue with their skating as much as possible in their home country.”

From the club’s perspective, it’s been a huge win for the community and for the club’s budget. “This has given us the opportunity to build a new community connection with Canadore College” said David. “Since I bridge both of these organizations, I can see how this project could allow us to create connections with other educational and cultural institutions that will allow us to give these programs some additional ice time and coaching. We have tapped into a new population and clientele that we had not thought of before. Canada itself is a nation of immigrants looking for new opportunities, perhaps this could be one of them.”

For other clubs inspired by the North Bay club’s story, David has some sage advice. “Start early. Talk to International Student departments in post-secondary institutions, to local high schools with foreign exchange students and to community multicultural agencies. They’re always looking for unique experiences. Someone is always willing to try if the opportunity is provided.”

If you’re interested in learning to skate, joining a Skate Canada club is easy. There are 1400 clubs across the country for you to choose from … all of them with certified coaching and nationally recognized programming.

To find the club nearest you, check out our clubfinder and embrace the joy of skating.

And finally … congratulations to North Bay Figure Skating Club for developing more skaters for life!

CanSkate Developing Champions in Every Ice Sport

Paige Lawrence and a CanSkate student. A fuzzy video shows Jeff Skinner doing double jumps, footwork, a camel spin with his hands behind his back, all manner of things showing various skating skills.

He was a little mop-haired kid who was good enough to win the bronze medal at the juvenile level at the 2004 Skate Canada Junior Nationals.

That was 11 years ago. So where is he now? Jeff Skinner, who used to take lessons at the York Region Skating Academy, now plays for the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League. He’s racked up all sorts of important hockey milestones: the youngest (18) to play in the NHL All-Star Game and winner of the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie in 2010-2011.

Best of all, there is the famous hockey video of Skinner ripping off a single Axel in hockey skates to avoid a hit at the red line during a game.

See what CanSkate can do for you?

You see, CanSkate isn’t just for figure skaters who want to learn spins and jumps and Russian splits. The CanSkate of today teaches skating for all – for recreational skaters, or for anyone who straps on a pair of blades to cruise around an ice surface: hockey players, short track speed skaters, long track speed skaters, all of them.

It’s not out of the pale to see that some of Canada’s finest ice-sport dynamos have had their start in Skate Canada’s CanSkate program. And with the revamping of the system – to focus on efficient, fun skill development at the proper stages of life – CanSkate will become the go-to source of skating skills in the country in years to come.

Yes, Marie-Philip Poulin, currently Canada’s most formidable women’s hockey player and a star at the past two Olympic Games got her start as a figure skater at a little club in Beauceville, Quebec at age four. By five, she was playing hockey. But in that one year of instruction, Poulin said the most important thing that skating lessons taught her was balance. “It’s a good way to start, without pucks,” she said. “I think just being coordinated in figure skating, that’s the main part. To learn how to stop and start and stay on your feet, that’s key for sure.”

Currently, Poulin is probably one of the most agile skaters on the ice, thanks to all the lessons on skills and edges and crossovers. She progressed through all the levels very quickly.

“I think I was lucky to learn to skate right away instead of having to try to figure it out on my own,” Poulin said. “I’m always impressed with how skate, but as a hockey player, just turning, quick stops and starts, there’s a lot behind it. It’s not just your legs. It’s your whole body that needs to be stable and just being able to be quick on your feet.”

Olympic short-track speed skater Valerie Maltais took CanSkate lessons for two years at a tiny club near La Baie, Quebec, before she started school.

“I think it helps me with my agility just on the turns and the edges and the straightaway,” Maltais said. “The first thing you learn in short track is just to stay on your feet and crossover,” she said. However, short trackers skate only in one direction, so skaters tend to become more agile on one side of their bodies than the other. But Maltais is a little different from most: her skating lessons taught her to continue to train and turn and do cross-overs on both sides, which helps maintain muscle balance. And one added bonus: she knows how to skate backwards, too.

“I learned really good basics for skating,” Maltais said. “If one day, I have kids who do short track, I think I will introduce them with figure skating. It’s a very good base to learn.”

There is an impressive list of the members of Canada’s men’s hockey team in Sochi who learned their early skills in a CanSkate program: Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, Nathan Mackinnon of the Colorado Avalanche ( he has speed to burn); Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings (started skating at age two); Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks (known as a good skater); Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, (has impressive speed); Troy Brouwer of the Washington Capitals; and Cody Hodgson of the Buffalo Sabres.

It only made sense that a hockey parent one day asked Olympic pair champion David Pelletier if he would help his son improve his skating skills. The dad told other dads. Soon, Pelletier started working with a novice hockey team in Edmonton, and then last April, the Edmonton Oilers came calling, asking him to focus on player development, mainly with the farm team and draft players.

Hockey coaches tend to focus on system passing and shooting and only a little bit on skating, Pelletier said. “There are parents out there who have the time and desire to help out, but they might not have the qualifications to teach skating.

“We [figure skaters] spend every year until we retire to perfect skating,” Pelletier said. “Patrick Chan spends the first 10 minutes of every practice on skating skills. It teaches balance, change of direction. I find a lot of hockey players, even the big guys, don’t know how to use their upper body to make the feet do what you want them to do.”

These days, Pelletier said, you cannot be a great hockey player without being a good skater. The game moves faster than ever before. Now the demand for proper skating skill training is growing.

Pelletier says 1984 world pair champion Barbara Underhill inspired him to take this new course in life. He’s never talked to her about it, but he knows her path. “I could see when she talked about it at “Battle of the Blades” the first year, there was a spark in her eye,” he said.

Underhill now works on improving the skating skills of hockey players for the Anaheim Ducks, the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 2012, she began to work with the Toronto Maples Leafs, too, using Dartfish technology to analyze strides and body movement to improve efficiency, speed and balance. In 2011, The Hockey News ranked Underhill as one of the 100 most influential people in hockey.

“Sometimes I shake my head and I can’t believe it,” Underhill said. “I wake up every day and can’t wait to get to the rink and see who I’m working with.”

Kingston Skating Clubs Keep Making Strides

*It Takes a Team!

Last year Skate Canada Eastern Ontario (EO) felt privileged to host the 100th Anniversary of the National Championships in Ottawa.

With such a highly successful event tucked into their skate bags, it’s no wonder the skating family is back in Eastern Ontario once again, this time in Kingston to celebrate the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships at the beautiful Rogers KRock Centre.

This year many of the dedicated LOC members have returned to be joined by some newly recruited local volunteers for a total of over 250 volunteers from Kingston and the surrounding area.

Glenda Cartwright, Vice Chair of EO and Volunteer Recruitment Director for CTNSC, has high praise for her dynamic team.

“These dedicated people have graciously given their time to assist in delivering a successful event. I’ve had the pleasure to work with several organizations in the City of Kingston to recruit support and of course many clubs in EO have also provided enormous help: St Lawrence College, Queens University, local Senior Centers, CFB Kingston Military, plus over 30 Medical and Physio volunteers, along with those long-standing volunteers who return every year to join in the fun.”

Despite the volunteers’ enthusiasm and the positive experience of many past successes, the week didn’t start out all that well when a flood forced the EO office to suddenly relocate to temporary accommodation.

“The office flood could not have come at a worse time!” said EO Chair Gloria Brighten. “Having to move while repairs are taking place caused real stress for the office staff. We’re involved in multiple events, Seminars, Clinics, Special Olympics, and of course in the lead-up and execution of the National Championships, so the transition was really tough. But everyone has maintained a positive attitude and when the Championships are all over, we’ll work together to return to full service for our Eastern Ontario members.”

Did You Know?

Did you know that one of the oldest skating clubs in Kingston is celebrating a major milestone in 2015? This year the Fort Henry Heights Skating Club will be 50 years old! Congratulations FHHSC for providing many wonderful years of skating to the community.

Within the Kingston area, three clubs are in operation providing lessons, coaching and programming to over 800 members.

Fort Henry Heights Skating Club (FHHSC) is located at the Constantine Arena at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Kingston East. Constantine Arena opened its doors in 1960 with a small recreational skating club of approximately 30 skaters who received lessons from volunteer coaches. Five years later the Fort Henry Heights Figure Skating Club was officially founded and became a member of Skate Canada, then the Canadian Figure Skating Association. Today the club has grown to approximately 275 members and this year, 2015, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Skate Kingston, located at the Invista Centre in the west end of Kingston, is an amalgamation of the old Kingston SC originally founded in 1958, and the West Kingston SC founded in 1971. With approximately 450 members including Skate Kingston CanSkate, STARSkate and Adult as well as the Kingston Silver Blades (Special Olympics) and Kingston Synchro Skating (KISS), it opened its doors in 2008.

Loyalist Winter Club’s (LWC) home arena is WJ Henderson Arena in Amherstview and was founded in 1970. While LWC is not located in Kingston proper, with the sharing of many coaches and skaters, the club is considered an integral part of the greater Kingston skating family.

In addition to its great clubs, Kingston can also boast about some of the national and international skaters and judges the area and its clubs have produced.

Jean Matthews (Gilchrist) is the only figure skating member of the Kingston Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in 2004 as a Builder. Jean joined the Crystal FSC (’62), now the Kingston SC, and was instrumental in starting the club’s first certified competitions. As an international skating judge, Jean officiated at two Olympic Winter Games (1988, 1992) and five World Championships (1985-89).

George Meagher, born in 1866 in Kingston, was a figure skating pioneer in Canada and in Europe. He is best known for both his talent on the ice and for the co-founding of the Minto Skating Club in Ottawa. In 1891 he won the Amateur Championships of the World (Ottawa). In 2010 George was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as an Athlete.

Other notable athletes: Ice Dancer Darryl VanLuven took his first skating lessons in Kingston; competitors Janet Emerson and Drew Markham skated with LWC; Robert O’Toole from FHHSC ; and World Ice Dance silver medalist Tanith Belbin started her CanSkate career in Kingston before moving and competing for the USA.

The City of Kingston is a perfect host for the national championships. The services and venue are top notch with a downtown core that’s visitor friendly with the potential for excellent dining and shopping … and we all know how much skaters and fans LOVE to shop!

Historically, the city has embraced skating as a national winter pastime. Constantine Arena and the Invista Centre provide opportunities for open family skating. And every year Springer Market Square has the outdoor rink up and running throughout the winter season, a great place to go and spend time with family while enjoying the great outdoors. In February, the city also hosts Feb Fest, inviting skaters from each Club, Synchro, Queens University and Special Olympics to join with a “famous” headliner to provide a first rate show for the Kingston Community. This year World Champion Patrick Chan will star in the show.

In preparation for the start of the event and to publicize the Championships, the City of Kingston and Springer Market Square hosted a CanSkate Demonstration with the skaters and Coaches from Skate Kingston.

CanSkaters, along with World Champion Elvis Stojko, his wife Gladys Orozco and our Athlete Ambassador, Paige Lawrence, were put through their paces on a CanSkate circuit on the outdoor rink entertaining family, friends and spectators,” offers Glenda with pride in her voice. “Paige has also been invited to visit StarSkate sessions this week at FHHSC and Skate Kingston.”

During the week of competition, EO, its skaters and coaches will be presenting the CanSkate Showcase Demonstration at KRock Centre on several occasions. Forty FHHSC CanSkaters from age 3 to 11, Coaches and Program Assistants will “strut their stuff” with a mini CanSkate Demonstration. When it was announced that the National Skating Championships were coming to Kingston at a time when FHHSC would be celebrating their 50th Anniversary, everyone was so excited with the prospect of being involved. Every board member and Coach is volunteering along with numerous parent volunteers.

“The STARSkaters are here on mass,” comments Glenda, “Flower Retrievers, Ceremonies and Ice Patchers are all doing their best. They’re living this wonderful experience and will have treasured memories for a long time to come. That’s the power of this wonderful sport!”

 

*Acknowledgement:

Thanks to Skate Canada Eastern Ontario for their generous participation in this feature.

 

 

New CanSkate PSA Brings out Skating’s Best

OTTAWA, ON: Canada is a land of ice and snow, a winter nation with skating in its DNA. Over the years Canadians have skated on nature’s natural rinks, on community rinks, and in arenas in front of family and friends, and sometimes thousands of spectators. One thing remains the same, how we learned to skate: CanSkate.

Skate Canada and Those Canadians media group partnered to produce a series of CanSkate Public Service Announcements (PSA) that highlights the dynamic learn-to-skate program that focuses on fun, participation and basic skill development. Based on Sport Canada’s long term athlete development (LTAD) principles, CanSkate centers on physical literacy and the fundamental skills needed to take part in any ice sport or to skate as a recreational activity.

The full length five minute video takes you back to the rink where it all began for some of Canada’s most well-known skating stars. NHL and Olympic hockey player Matt Duchene, Olympic speed skater Ivanie Blondin, Olympic figure skaters Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all appear in the campaign and are graduates of the CanSkate program which is presented by Canadian Tire.

“For decades CanSkate has been teaching the best skaters in Canada how to skate. In our new PSA  a few of them talk about their experience in CanSkate and outline how the program was able to bring them to the peak of their sport,” said Dan Thompson, Skate Canada Chief Executive Officer. “Every Canadian should experience the joy of skating. Whether it is for recreational purposes or to become the next Olympic champion, CanSkate can get you there.”

For many Canadians those first steps onto the ice that turn into glides are memorable moments in their childhood and that was no different for hockey player Matt Duchene. “My first memories are when my parents signed me up for CanSkate in my hometown of Haliburton at three or four years old. Those basics that you learn at CanSkate I think applies to any level of hockey,” shared Matt Duchene 2014 Olympic Champion and member of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

CanSkate uses every inch of the ice surface, skaters learn the basics of skating through a complete series of balance, control and agility skills taught in six stages. Olympic and World Figure Skating Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir echoed the basics of the program.

“You cannot learn to figure skate or play hockey or anything until you have done the CanSkate program, you need that basis,” said Moir.

“Every footwork sequence we do, every spin, every lift, every move – it all comes back to the basics, it is all those fundamentals that we learned in CanSkate,” added Virtue.

Two-time Olympic figure skating medallist Patrick Chan revisits his first memories on the ice and how CanSkate shaped the future for the three-time World Champion. “I wanted to come in every day, I wanted to come and skate, I wanted to learn all the different skills. I guess I have to owe it to the coaches of CanSkate because they were really the ones that kept it fun and kept it interesting and kept wanting me to come back,” explained Chan.

Lessons are given in a group format with a maximum coach-to-student ratio of 1:10. Skaters progress at their own rate and coaches make sessions active using teaching aids, upbeat music and a wide variety of activities that create a motivational environment and promote learning.

Olympic speed skater Ivanie Blondin started her skating career at her local community rink in the CanSkate program. Blondin expressed praise for the program, “it’s for me, turned me into the great athlete I am today and I owe it pretty much all to Canskate.”

CanSkate uses tested and proven new curriculum and delivery methods that guarantee skater success in developing stronger basic skills and developing them faster. Skate Canada is proud to have all its programs taught by professional coaches who are specially trained and certified through the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP).

Find a Skate Canada club in your area and start skating today!

CanSkate: Only The Best Can Bring Out Their Best

CanSkate gets a boost in Ontario from the provincial government

Winter isn’t dreary in Canada any more, not with the new CanSkate program.

In a frosty rink in Toronto, toddlers in jelly-bean coloured snowsuits and tiny skates zip around brightly hued pylons and cones, arms out to the side, eyes bright. It’s a hub of activity. They are like little bees zooming about the hive. No piece of the ice surface goes unused. They are intent, yet they’re having fun. They are learning to skate, the new way.

It’s part of a revolution in the way Canadians learn to skate, and last week, the Skate Canada program came to Skate Ontario, where 75,000 folks are learning skills that may take them to an Olympic podium in various ice sports. Or for most, it may be the launching pad for thousands to have a skill for life, stroking away on a Saturday afternoon at an arena, hearts pumping, faces glowing.

The new program is set up to become the best learn-to-skate plan in the country, so that speed skaters and hockey players can also hone their abilities to move across the ice efficiently. The skills aren’t tied specifically to figure skating skills, but on skating skills in general.

The program became mandatory at all 1,200 figure skating clubs in Canada in September, and in Ontario, it’s getting a boost from a Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport financing, and from Canadian Tire, which for the past couple of years has allied itself to Olympic and grassroots sport and which has become Skate Canada’s most important title sponsor. Skate Canada chief executive officer Dan Thompson refers to CanSkate as the “engine room of Skate Canada.”

The CanSkate blueprint came to life because of a Sport Canada directive to set out specific long-term athlete development programs. To make it happen, Skate Ontario is tapping into an Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund, with a budget of close to $3-million meant to get people moving at the community level. Skate Ontario gets $197,220 to help pay for 360 kits filled with props (small cones, pylons, rhythmic ribbons, Frisbees, bean bags, plungers (who knew?), plastic polka-dotted balls and an enormous “parachute.” Canadian Tire provides the enormous equipment bags to carry it all.

The side-effects of this idea?  It could maximize social and economic benefits. (Ontario spends $4-billion on recreation, sport and fitness.)  And it could bring health costs down. “We know that an investment into healthy lifestyles is an investment into spending less in health care in the long run for sure,” said Micheal Coteau, who was just named as minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport last June.

Coteau had never seen the CanSkate program in action before, and he paused to watch all of the youngsters on the ice hoist an enormous red and white “parachute” and make it flutter up and down like a giant stingray.

Coteau knows the value of the CanSkate concept first-hand. His children both go to skating programs. “I’ve noticed that the more engaged they are with fun and the more the teacher uses different types of tools, the more interested they become in skating,” he said. “The truth is, a lot of sports, it they’re not done properly in the beginning, they’ll shy away. If you can capture them at the beginning by engaging them at a completely different level where they are intrigued by the fun of it, you can leverage that to get them to increase their level of skill.”

It’s worked for his children, aged four and eight, he said. They are skating, swimming and into music programs. For the first two years that his daughter took a skating program, she found it frustrating, he said. When she got to the point where she could skate well, she began to enjoy it. The CanSkate program will change all of that, offering up basics in balance, control, and agility in six stages. Students learn stronger skills and learn them faster under this program.

Skate Canada also knows that the golden years of learning are between ages seven and 11, when neural pathways are most easily formed.

Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Manley began to toddle onto the ice at age 2 ½ and she took her first learn-to-skate lesson at age five. Her first pair of skates came from Canadian Tire. She’s now a coach, teaching CanSkate.

Kim Saunders, associate vice-president of sport partnerships for Canadian Tire, also followed Manley’s path, taking the old learn-to-skate program as a child and picking up all the skills – the hard way. Figure skating is near and dear to her heart – and to that of Canadian Tire, which began sponsorship of Skate Canada in 2013. The Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ont., in January will be the company’s third tour as title sponsor of that event.

At about the same time, Canadian Tire made a general investment in Olympic and Paralympic sport – and other sport associations, too. But Skate Canada is special.

“We’ve been selling skates for 90 years,” Saunders said. “It’s just part of our heritage. We were looking for a way to support amateur sport in this country is a bigger way and Skate Canada was just a natural fit. It’s a fit for us from a business point of view. It’s a fit for us from a philosophy point of view too, to what skating can do for a child. It’s a great passion for us.”

“We are all part of the Canadian canopy,” she said. “We have to talk about spirit, with that notion that strong healthy kids make strong nations. They also make great athletes.”