“The motto for Skate Canada has been – start slow and start small,” says Lakeside Figure Skating head coach Jennifer Dierker.
In a normal year, “we would be on the ice right now,” said Dierker, at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9. Lakeside’s board was waiting for Skate Canada and the Town of Slave Lake to approve its plan for the coming year.
Lakeside runs four programs: two levels of CanSkate – an introduction to the skills needed to enter figure skating, hockey, speed skating, and ringette, and figure skating, which is divided into Intro to STARSkate and STARSkate.
If the plan is approved, the two STARSkate levels will start in October, says Dierker. CanSkate will begin in January, if the cohort limit is increased. Skate Canada isn’t allowing anyone to run Pre-CanSkate, for three and four year olds.
Intro and STARSkate are the “dedicated” and “invested” skaters, so the board decided to start teaching these classes first.
While in the past there have been some male skaters, recently there are only female figure skaters in Slave Lake. This makes pairs skating difficult. In a normal year, the man that Dierker partnered with when she was in figure skating comes out a few times a month from Edmonton and partners with the girls. However, this year this will not be possible, because of COVID-19. Other clubs with dedicated competitive pairs can skate together.
There’s no word yet on competitions and testing, but otherwise the majority of figure skating practice will be the same.
Dierker says there’s a joke that “figure skaters have been social distancing since the beginning of time,” which is especially demonstrated by the camel spin. This is where a skater spins with one leg sticking out, which takes up a lot of space.
Lakeside has decreased its ice time from four to two days a week. Also, each session is half an hour shorter. The coach will wear a mask and move around less than normal, but as the skaters exert a fair amount of energy they will not be wearing masks.
Last year, there were around 21 skaters in Intro to STAR and STAR. This year, around 17 or 18 are expected to continue, with 10 to 15 coming up from Can Skate. This should make the total of the cohort between 35 and 40 with coaches.
The date for registration hasn’t been set, but will be through Lakeside’s website – Lakesidefigureskatingclub.uplifterinc.com. The group also updates its Facebook page.