Young skaters vie for ice time at 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships
London Community News
Photos by Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter: mdmaloneyphoto
The 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships may still be months away, but some of the skaters who will be involved with the event found themselves in front of the cameras and under the scrutiny of judges on Wednesday (Nov. 14).
As part of Skate Canada’s efforts to make this "the best World’s ever," more than 100 young area skaters took part in auditions at the Budweiser Gardens, each vying to be one of either 20 flower retrievers or 20 selected skaters that will help in the presentation of medals, as well as with opening and closing ceremonies.
Jaiden French was one of 54, nine- to 13-year-olds trying out for one of the flower retriever positions.
A student at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School, French has been skating since the age of three and is a member of the Ilderton Skating Club.
Unfazed by the talent of other skaters, she described the experience on Wednesday as “kinda like going to a big competition.”
But unlike going to competitions, the chance to be part of the World championships is a one shot deal.
“It means everything to me,” said French, “I want to be a flower girl so badly.”
Payton Beckett, a Grade 5 student at Ryerson Public School, was another skater looking for a spot as one of the flower retrievers.
Remarking that while all the lights and cameras made her a bit nervous, she agreed with French that the auditions felt just like a competition.
Beckett acknowledged that if she was one of the 20 chosen, it would mean a lot of hard work, but that would be outweighed by the chance to be part of the event and get to watch it up close.
Debbi Wilkes, Skate Canada director of business development, was one of three judges rating the skaters. No stranger to the pressures of competition, Wilkes won a pair of silver medal at the 1964 Winter Olympics.
Judging the hopefuls on their skating skills, speed and personality on the ice, plus their ability to work as a team off the ice, Wilkes said it is a tough job for these young skaters. ‘They have to sit rink-side. They are part of the emotion that comes into the building and yet when they head out onto the ice, they have to be all business.”
And while this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these skaters, Wilkes remarked that it might also be that spark that drives them on to bigger and better things in the future. Citing the case of a young skater who was a flower retriever in Ottawa many years ago, Elizabeth Manley went on to win Olympic silver at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
Also at Wednesday’s event, Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette was announced as the Athlete Ambassador for the championships, which are being held March 11-17.
As Athlete Ambassador, Rochette will participate in promotion, ceremonies, media interviews, receptions, autograph sessions and in-venue entertainment.
For more information on the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, visit www.worlds2013.ca.
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