More than 700 figure skaters — and roughly 1,000 people in all — descended on mid-Vancouver Island last weekend as the 2018 belairdirect B.C.-Yukon Section Super Skate series kicked off at Parksville’s Oceanside Place.
The first of six competitions in the series ran from April 6-8, and allowed skaters to showcase new routines and begin building points toward possible berths in provincial and national championships in the 2018-19 season.
“This is the start of the season, and kids will accumulate points throughout the year,” said Ted Barton, executive director for Skate Canada-B.C. “The (Winter) Olympics just finished, but these young kids get going right away.”
Among those taking their turns in front of the judges were members of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Sandy Shores Skating Club. For some of the newer and younger team members, this may well have been their first experience in skating before judges, said Barton.
“The kids can do the jumps in practice; that’s one thing,” said Barton. “But putting them in a stressful environment, in competition, is completely a different skill. So you can be a great practice skater, but you need to learn how to become a great competitor, and that takes competition.
“And there’s only so many you can get that experience from.”
The meet in Parksville will be followed by five more series events, scattered across the B.C. map and across the 2018 calendar. Barton said Skate Canada B.C. purposely moves the events around to give the most skaters an opportunity to take part.
And with the large entourage that accompanies the skaters, each of the host communites stands to benefit financially, as well.
“That’s good, obviously, for the local businesses,” said Barton, noting the skaters were accompanied by coaches, judges, technical officials and video crews who live-streamed the competition worldwide online. “It’s around 1,000 (people), so it’s a great economic boost for what’s kind of a down time for the community.”