Comox Valley Skating Club coach Greg Ladret is the head coach for the Zone 6 (Vancouver Island-Powell River) figure skating team at the BC Winter Games, Feb. 23-26 in Vernon.
Ladret brings plenty of experience – and extensive connections – to his role as coach. This past year, he was in Orlando, Florida where he was a featured speaker at the 30-year reunion of Disney On Ice, a show for which he was a principal skater for 10 years.
On the way home Greg stopped over in Scottsdale, Arizona to visit his brother Doug who was just about to head for Toronto for his third season as coach/choreographer/coordinator with the number one CBC TV show Battle of the Blades.
Most coaches with careers in excess of 20 years will have built up a network of coaching colleagues in many areas of sport. For the Comox Valley Skating Club husband and wife coaching team of Greg Ladret and Dawn Ladret, it is a real family thing.
Dawn began skating in Elliot Lake, Ont. She continued skating as her family moved first to Port Hardy, and then to the Comox Valley where she got her first taste of coaching. Dawn spent her early years in coaching honing her skills in Whitehorse, Yorkton and Gold River before returning to the Comox Valley. In her first 20 years coaching here Dawn took many Comox Valley skaters to Provincial and National championships. Three years ago, after a three-year break to spend more time with her children and pursue other interests, Dawn returned to coaching.
Greg was born in Comox, and at the age of three weeks, began a road trip that would take him several times around the world, and after many years, eventually bring him back here. Greg and brother Doug both began their skating in Powell River, and continued on to be national competitors, medallists and for Doug Champion and Olympian.
Dawn’s brother Scott Rachuk a former national medalist and well-respected coach, owns the Competitive Skating School of Strathroy in Ontario, and acts as a consultant for other clubs in Ontario, as well as serving on committees for Skate Canada.
Greg’s brother Doug, former Canadian pairs champion with Christine Hough (better known as Doug & Tuffy) coaches in Arizona when not travelling with his competitive skaters to events around the world, or working on Battle or the Blades in Toronto. Doug serves on committees for the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA), including the selection committee for US international competitors.
Coaching international competitors and serving on committees for their respective associations put Scott and Doug front and centre for any changes and new developments in the works from the International Skating Union (ISU).
When Greg or Dawn has a skating question they can call on their brothers.
“The challenge we face in choosing to work in a smaller community is providing a training environment for the roughly five per cent who wish to pursue competitive skating, while maintaining a fun and productive program for the recreational skaters who make up the vast majority of the membership of Skate Canada,” says Greg. “Working within the constraints of a limited ice schedule, we keep making adjustment, looking for the best combination to satisfy the needs of all our members.
“Each season we meet with parents of skaters to talk about what we feel is the potential for their child, and plan their training and competitions for the season,” Greg said. “In a parent info meeting during my second year here, two successful local businessmen asked, ‘If you are any good, what are you doing here?’
“My reply was, ‘You are obviously very good at what you do, what are you doing here?’ They responded almost in unison, ‘It’s paradise.’ Having performed in hundreds of cities, towns and villages, in 31 countries on six continents, I can agree with them.”
Dawn and Greg also keep contact with what is happening with the professional skating shows. Dawn’s former student and well-known Comox Valley Skater Annie Laurie performs in skating shows on cruise ships. Those shows are produced by longtime skating friend of Greg, so they keep up with what is going on from both the performer and producer side of things.
One of Greg’s skating partners from his first year as a show skater is now the talent coordinator for Disney On Ice. Over the years Greg has been able to help several skaters get started with Disney On Ice.
Being the largest employer of professional skaters in the world, and growing each year Disney On Ice is always looking to improve their auditioning process and get the right skaters into their productions.
In addition to his coaching duties at the Comox Valley Skating Club, Greg makes trips to a variety of communities to conduct ice show preparation clinics.
In another of Greg’s many projects, stories of how a brother and sister from a mining family, and two brothers and a sister from a logging and fishing family got into figure skating, along with stories of other skating families, is planned to hit the Internet sometime this year.