Tag Archive for: Paige Lawrence

Paige Lawrence: A Life Refocused

Did You Know?

Did you know that Paige Lawrence, our Athlete Ambassador in Kingston, always wanted to be a cowgirl? Both her Dad and her brother were bull riders and top-notch rodeo competitors. Paige wants to keep the family tradition alive by taking up the sport of bull riding and bull fighting!

A Life Refocused

Four-time Canadian pair medalist and 2014 Olympian Paige Lawrence, 22, of Kipling, Saskatchewan is about to take on a new role at this week’s Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Instead of performing and competing on the ice, Paige will be acting as the event’s Athlete Ambassador.

“Some of my responsibilities as Athlete Ambassador will be to do different meet and greets with the general public, to help out with the school groups that come to watch the practices, visit local figure skating clubs, assist with medal presentations, do interviews with the media and generally just be a support figure for the athletes!”

Paige is a natural for the job.

Combined with her bubbly and outgoing spirit, her experience from being at the event nine times means she’s got a lot of history to share. Her optimism and love for figure skating is infectious!

“I want the athletes to feel the positive vibes coming at them from myself and from the fans and the community, and I want everyone involved to enjoy this week to the utmost!”

Since competing last year at Olympics and Worlds with pair partner Rudi Sweigers, her life has gone through some enormous changes, a situation that has sent her into unfamiliar territory.

“To be honest, I hadn’t expected my skating career to be over when the season ended. I was raring to go for this year.  But after several talks between Rudi and myself we began to see we were wanting different things.”

Paige confesses that when the partnership officially ended, she felt like she was in mourning for the loss of her competitive career and the dreams that swirled around it.

“Very suddenly the most important things in my life disappeared and it took a while to learn how to deal with that loss. But I’m an optimist by nature and as hard as it was to have ended my partnership with Rudi, I believe there’s an opportunity to be found in every experience so I tried to focus and find that.”

For Paige, the hardest part about returning to “civilian” life has been redefining herself.

“For so long my identity has revolved around being an elite athlete and now that’s over.  It’s a very strange feeling to go from knowing exactly who you are and having a purpose that you strive towards every single day when you wake up … to questioning ‘who am I now?’ … and to be searching for a new purpose.  Oh yah, and I miss the weekly massages!!”

As she begins the journey towards her next big thing, she’s not sure what she will find.

“Maybe it’s backpacking like I did in Costa Rica or adding to my list of adrenaline pumping activities like bungee jumping, sky-diving and cliff-jumping. Whatever it is, I’m always looking for the next exciting thing to try … and there are so many possibilities!”

Paige isn’t sure how skating will fit into her new life. One thing she’s discovered she enjoys is assisting her coach Patty Hole with up-and-coming skaters. She thinks of it as a way of giving back to someone who has and continues to be such a strong role model and mentor.

Part of her message to young athletes back home and in Kingston this week is also about how to use the skills skating teaches. After her successful competitive career, she recognizes that the lessons learned from skating, through both good times and bad, are lessons that she’ll carry through the rest of her life.

“Skating has helped me become the confident, daring, hard-working, organized, goal-oriented, determined (some may say hard-headed but I think determined sounds nicer!), outgoing, teach-able, and responsible person that I am today.”

And Paige’s life is expanding.

She recently moved to Calgary and returned to university for the winter semester with a goal of eventually achieving a career in Sport Psychology.  She says it’s a brand new goal for her but she’s excited to see what comes from it.  She would also like to get into public and motivational speaking.

“I feel like I still have so much motivation inside of me and I would really love to be able to share my story, especially with other small town kids and athletes. I’d be happy to let them feed off of my energy and hopefully along the way kindle in them that tiny dream that every child carries within themselves.”

Paige’s own dream of becoming a cowgirl began when she was a tiny child riding horseback, chasing and rounding up horses with her Dad.

“I loved being outside whether it was helping my Mom in our garden, or “helping” Dad with his chores. I remember the pails of feed were almost the same size as me so more often than not I just ended up trying to pat all the wild horses while Dad did all the feeding! With my two brothers, I was always very independent and determined, so anything my brothers tried, I had to try too!”

She tried skating at age four when her parents enrolled her into the CanSkate program at their local club. Over the years, as her commitment to training grew along with her achievements, Paige began to realize the impact the sport was having on her life. Today her path in skating may be fuzzy but her love of the sport is as clear as ever.

“I’m sitting here trying to put into words what skating means to me and I realize I have a smile on my face.  That’s what skating means to me … a smile … happiness … a place where I feel more like myself than any other place in the world … an outlet where I made my most passionate dream come true.  Skating is the very center of who I am and how I live my life.”

Paige Lawrence named Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston

OTTAWA, ON: Four-time Canadian pair medallist and 2014 Olympian Paige Lawrence, 22, of Kipling, Saskatchewan will act at the Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ontario. The event takes place from January 19-25 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.

“We are delighted to have Paige act as our Athlete Ambassador in Kingston and help us kick-off the first skating event in Canada’s 2015 Year of Sport. This is the most important competition on Canadian skaters’ calendars as they are all striving to represent Canada at the international level. Having Paige join us to represent the competing athletes allows the skaters to stay focused on the ice,” said Dan Thompson, CEO, Skate Canada. “Paige has competed at this event nine times at the junior and senior level and certainly knows what it takes to compete at the national championships and to make it onto the podium.”

As the Athlete Ambassador, Lawrence will be handling speaking engagements, media interviews, making appearances on behalf of the competing athletes, and making time for fans.

“Kingston holds a special place in my heart, as this is where I won my first grand prix medal at the 2010 Skate Canada International.  I am so thrilled to be coming back to Kingston as the Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and to share in the remarkable memories that are sure to be made,” said Lawrence. “I am honoured to represent the amazing athletes who gather here from across the country, as they compete to achieve their individual goals, and I look forward to cheering everyone on with all the enthusiasm in my heart.”

Lawrence and her partner Rudi Swiegers are four-time Canadian bronze medallists (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). In 2010 they won their first international medal, a bronze at Skate Canada International in Kingston. That same season they also won the bronze medal at the 2011 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

Lawrence and Swiegers qualified to compete for Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and placed 14th. They then went on to place 12th at the 2014 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.

After finishing the 2013-2014 season Lawrence and Swiegers went in separate directions.  Lawrence has been keeping herself busy by attending the University of Calgary and hopes to enter the Kinesiology Mind Sciences program in the fall.


Tickets still remain and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.ca, by phone at 1.855.985.5000 or in person at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.


The event will feature approximately 250 skaters in the men’s, women’s, pair and ice dance disciplines, competing in three levels: senior, junior and novice.

Athletes qualified for the championships threw their sectional events and then move onto Skate Canada Challenge the national qualifying event, which saw 18 men’s, 18 women, 12 pair teams and 15 ice dance teams move onto the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

Athletes will vie for spots on the Skate Canada National Team and the Canadian teams that will compete at the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, the 2015 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and the 2015 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Saskatchewan pair skaters Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers end partnership

OTTAWA, ON: Saskatchewan pair skaters Paige Lawrence, 24, Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers, 26, Kipling, Sask., have ended their nine-year partnership. Lawrence and Swiegers achieved a lifelong dream of being Olympians earlier this year when they competed at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Lawrence and Swiegers are four-time Canadian bronze medalists (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). In 2010 they won their first international medal, a bronze at Skate Canada International. That same season they also won the bronze medal at the 2011 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

The team trained in Virden, Manitoba with coach Patricia Hole and in Florida with Lyndon Johnston. In 2014 they qualified to compete for Canada at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and placed 14th. They then went on to place 12th at the 2014 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.

“I’m so thankful for all the opportunities and adventures that Rudi and I have had the chance to experience throughout our nine-year career together. It was amazing to fulfill our dream of competing at the Olympics and world championships and I have never been happier than I was while skating those programs,” said Lawrence. “We have reached a point now where we both want different things and I wish Rudi all the health, happiness, and continued success in whatever path he follows.”

Lawrence continued, “I would like to say thank you to my coaches Patty Hole and Lyndon Johnston for their unwavering commitment and belief in us, my support team back home for always being there for me, and to all our fans for cheering us on and sharing in this incredible journey. I am so grateful!”

Lawrence is looking to find a new partner and continue skating but is keeping an open mind to whatever life may throw her way.

“I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to skate with Paige and represent Saskatchewan nationally and internationally. One of my greatest joys is that we’ve been able to succeed and achieve our goals while staying true to our small town roots; proving that you don’t need to move away to large centers to train,” said Swiegers. “I’d like to personally thank Patricia Hole and Lyndon Johnston for everything they have done for me, untold hours on and off the ice. Their dedication to me as a person and an athlete has been paramount in making me the man I am today.”

Swiegers finished, “I am truly grateful for all the sport has given me. This isn’t goodbye for me but rather see you later!”

Swiegers is taking a year off from competitive skating for personal reasons.

Olympian Profile: Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers

Who could have guessed? Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers grew up in two tiny Saskatchewan towns, 23 kilometres apart, where pair skating is perhaps 25th on the list of things to do behind rodeo.

Actually, Lawrence’s parents own a rodeo production company in Kennedy, Sask. (population 241), home to the Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo, a post office, a bank, a restaurant/bar and a grocery store/gas station. Her father is an ex-professional bull rider and travels all spring and summer to rodeos. On their ranch, they have bucking broncos and bucking bulls. Lawrence’s brother rides bulls. Paige would like to, but coach Patty Hole won’t let her. (“But not for lack of trying,” says Swiegers.)

“It’s on my list, though,” Lawrence said. “It will happen someday.” She has competed in barrel racing, not the usual prerequisite for figure skating. But obviously, she’s fearless, perfect for pair skating.

Their tremendous moxie has driven Lawrence and Swiegers to become perhaps one of the few, if not the first figure skaters from Saskatchewan to make it to an Olympics. They earned the berth when they took the bronze medal at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa, seemingly an impossible dream for a couple of prairie kids.

They weren’t matched up in the usual way. Swiegers, born in South Africa, but raised in Kipling, Sask., (population 1,100) had just lost his pair partner and eyed up Lawrence, a tiny skater who, like him, was a leftie. In other words, they both rotate in the direction opposite to which most skaters do (although Swiegers is left handed and Lawrence is right handed, they both naturally rotate to the left). It’s rare to find two lefties, and there they were, in the same little club (they train in Virden, Manitoba).

Hole asked Lawrence to help out Swiegers and before she knew it, she was trying out pairs. Lawrence discovered she liked the feeling of being thrown in the air. They landed a throw triple Salchow during their second week together.

Lawrence started skating when she was four, the daughter of a figure skating mother and a hockey-playing father. There wasn’t much to do in Kennedy during the winter, but there was CanSkate. She landed her first triple Salchow when she was 16.

Swiegers’ mother was a doctor in Saskatoon, before she moved to Kipling, but he started skating late, at age 10. A succession of injuries as a singles skater turned him into a pair skater by age 15. He was 18 when he started to skate with Lawrence during the summer of 2005.

Hole brought on board an old friend, Lyndon Johnston – a world silver pair medalist in 1989 – for some technical expertise. Johnston arrived, expecting to see beginners, but saw a young pair team already doing amazing things. “Paige is probably the toughest girl I know,” Johnston said. “She is fearless when it comes to doing stuff, so now when they want to do more scary tricks, Patty sends them to me. I lose sleep over it.” Lawrence would love to do a throw quad.

They made a splash when they competed at a Skate Canada International in Kingston, Ont., in 2011 with a lift they called “The Missile” or “The Bullet” partly designed by David Pelletier. At one point, Lawrence’s feet are above her head, with her blades near his head and “hopefully he catches me,” she said. The first time they showed it to Hole, she covered her eyes. “That was the reaction we wanted,” Lawrence said.

The team has always shown so much promise, but has been foiled so many times by injury, however. Just before the 2012 Canadian championships, Lawrence suffered a concussion during a practice fall, but a month later, the team won a bronze medal.

They started the Olympic season with high hopes. They were thrilled with new programs choreographed by Lance Vipond (going back to their comfort zone of fun with “Rudy’s Rock” by Bill Haley and the Comets) and the long, designed by Bernard Ford, who gave them the soundtrack from “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

Their long program is not about Oz at all, but they skate to their own story: Lawrence is a mechanical doll, who after a change in melody and some side-by-side double Axels, becomes animated. At first she skates with robotic movement, and that changes when she comes to life.

With these arsenals in hand, Lawrence and Swiegers hoped for big things at the beginning of the year. “Paige and I believe that we are a very strong team and we are very confident with ourselves this year, especially with the new programs,” Swiegers said. “So we’re not going for that third spot. We’re going for national champions and everything is going to come from that.”

However, Lawrence developed an Achilles tendon problem in her left (landing leg) over the summer. By the time she got to training camp in September, her hamstring was pinching her – as her thigh muscles overcompensated for the initial troubles. All season long, the hamstring/groin injury hampered Lawrence. Even at the Canadian championships, she skated with her left thigh heavily taped, although there was less need for it as time went on. They could not do everything they planned. Still, they made the Olympic team.

They are known as a fun-loving team that brightens a room with their presence. At the 2011 Four Continents championships, Swiegers saved the day for U.S. team Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, after Ladwig broke the heel of a skate and had only three minutes to repair equipment. Swiegers, who had already skated, handed Ladwig his own boot and Ladwig was able to continue.

Later, U.S. Figure Skating flew Swiegers and his mother to Chicago to a Governing Council Meeting, where Ladwig presented the Canadian Samaritan with the U.S. Sportsmanship Award. Swiegers met the “higher ups,” as he put it. They both have come far from small-town Saskatchewan.

Want to read more about the figure skaters who will compete at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi? Pick up Beverley Smith’s new book SKATING TO SOCHI! The book profiles the top 40 athletes/teams with full-colour photos! Order online: Amazon.com, Lulu.com (ebook) or iTunes (ebook).

Beverley Smith