Home ice advantage won’t mean much for Juan de Fuca Skating Club members competing in this weekend’s Vancouver Island Regional Championships at The Q Centre in Colwood.
But that’s something the club, which is based at the Juan de Fuca Arena, is prepared for and has been preparing its skaters for since they began competing.
“It’s a learning curve,” said coach and the club’s director of skating, Leslee Rushton. “I always say there is no such thing as a wrong side.”
Routines are choreographed for highlighted skills to be performed facing the judges. However, judges don’t always sit in the same spot in different arenas, so a skater has to be ready to adjust or “flip” their program to face any direction required. The Q Centre, for instance, has seating that wraps all the way around the arena, unlike their practice rink at Juan de Fuca, which only has seating on one side.
Juan de Fuca skaters only had one opportunity to test their blades at The Q Centre leading up to the big event, giving them some valuable insight into what the different venue could feel like. As for home ice advantage, Rushton said at least “the children still get to sleep in their own beds.”
And her skaters have been working hard to prepare, both physically and mentally.
Metea Marr, 17, has not only been getting ready for the competition, she’s preparing to be tested there in an attempt to achieve her next technical level.
Skate Canada offers standardized testing in four areas: skating skills, ice dance, free skate and interpretive. Skaters may choose to be graded at organized test sessions or at competitions, where they skate at the level they wish to test at.
“She’s not fond of competing,” Rushton said of Marr, laughing. But she pushed her to skate at the higher level to get her testing done, knowing she’ll be busy with high school graduation events before long.
Marr, who has been skating for six years and skates three days a week, welcomes hitting the ice as a way to take her mind off the stress of school. She has her gold dance and skills levels and will compete this weekend in hopes of earning her gold interpretative and senior silver freeskate.
Tanisha Virk, 12, will be competing with the goal of beating her own personal best score. “I’m looking forward to having fun,” she said, and “trying to improve myself.” When asked if she gets excited before a competition, she said no, “mostly nervous.”
Rushton is helping work on those nerves and teaching Virk what to eat before a competition to keep her stomach calm. She noted Virk has had some really nice, clean skates in practice, which should help build her confidence.
Heather Robertson will not be competing. Instead, the 20-year-old University of Victoria student will be filling another role at the event, as a judge. While she has been judging competitions for two years, this is the first one in which she is certified to judge pre-juvenile and juvenile levels.
“I find I learn a lot more about the sport and myself,” Robertson said. “My goal is to become an international judge.”
Majoring in psychology with a minor in Hispanic studies, she chose to judge rather than compete after recently returning from a three-month exchange trip to Ecuador.
Judging is like taking an exam, she said, adding she finds herself cramming before a competition. “You can’t look it up when you’re on the panel,” she said, laughing.
Robertson was encouraged by Rushton to get into judging. “I think she’s got the potential to do great things,” the coach said.
Forty-four skaters will be competing from the local club alone, joining skaters from across the Island for a total of 319 hitting the ice at The Q Centre this weekend.