The Flin Flon Skating Club is back on the ice in full this season, with skaters preparing for their main year-end show later this month.
The club, which works off Skate Canada’s CanSkate curriculum, began the season in earnest last month, teaching different age groups of children how to smoothly move across the sheet.
The season is still young, but after two years of little if any training, holding classes at all is a victory by itself.
“We’ve found that this year, we've seen a lot of success on the ice with our students. There's more development. The lesson plans are really well done, with our skating coach Tori Pedwell. It’ll be exciting to see how the end turns out this year,” said club vice-president Cynthia Osmond.
Like swimming programs, the skating club and CanSkate advances through different levels, based mostly on kids’ age or experience. That ranges from young kids making their first steps on ice to more experienced members.
“When our Pre-Can skaters start off, some of them have never been in skates. By the end of it, they're able to get up on their own independently, move around the ice a little bit. Our CanSkaters, they’re learning how to speed turn, jump, skate backward, edge work, then that leads to another level where it’s the last level before they enter into figure skating,” Osmond said.
Like most youth sports programs, the club continues in large part due to volunteer involvement. Pedwell is the group’s main coach, more senior members of the club help coach new pupils and members of the Flin Flon Bombers coach sessions for kids on occasion. Osmond says that parents are also among the most active volunteers.
“Our volunteers are really our parents - our board is comprised of our parents. We heavily rely on our parents for the finale, to manage the show, to help with any fundraising, help the kids, things like that,” she said.
COVID-19 has hit the club hard, like almost all organizations. The club is now back to full operation and although some pre-pandemic members haven’t yet made their way back to the rink, Osmond says numbers are encouraging.
“It’s been a great year. I think with all the COVID-19 we've had, it's been a quiet two years with the skating club. We've lost some of our regulars, but now that we've had a full year, it’s been real great,” she said.
“I actually feel like we've seen a lot more new faces this year - which I was shocked, but we’re always looking to grow the club. There’s always a potential figure skater or it can enhance skills for kids becoming hockey players.”
With the return to practice came a return to competition for senior members. Some of the club’s top skaters took part in northern Manitoba regionals earlier this year. Instead of holding it in The Pas as was originally planned at one point, club volunteers recorded the members doing routines and sent the video in for a virtual competition.
“We held our own little mini regionals right here,” said club president Joanna LeDoux.
“We had the music, we had announcing, but we filmed them each doing their routines and their elements, then we sent them off to be judged.”
The club’s major year-end show is also back for this season. The show’s theme this year is the Winter Olympics, which wrapped up in Beijing earlier this week. Unlike its larger, international counterpart, the club’s show will be a one-day event, tentatively scheduled for March 20. Along with that will be fundraisers to help push the club into next season.
Parents interested in signing their kids up or finding out more can go to the Flin Flon Skating Club Facebook page or go to flinflonskatingclub.com.