The Challenge of THE CHALLENGE

By: Skate Ontario staff

By the time you read this, 200 + of Skate Ontario’s finest athletes will be in Edmonton for the Skate Canada Challenge event; the final qualifying step for athletes wanting to compete at the Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships in January 2019.

There is a lot at stake for the skaters in Edmonton: not the least of which is another competition chance with their skating peers.  John Briscoe, Manager, Sport Development for Skate Ontario sees it this way: “I think for the pre-novice level it’s their Canadians (national championships). It’s so very important for those skaters, especially if they’re moving up to Novice next year. For the rest of the athletes performing in the other levels it’s an opportunity to see here they fit in with the rest of the country’s skaters. This information has an impact in future training plans and goals.” Briscoe continues, “The quality of the top skaters has been advancing rapidly over the last few years: younger, higher, faster are just a few of the hallmarks of today’s elite athletes.”

For many coaches, having skaters at Challenge is a delightful mix of seeing old friends and sharing in the excitement of competition with their skaters. It is also a chance for coaches to check off thousands of steps in their step counting APPs as they walk the halls endlessly in the rink between the warm-up, boards, results, dressing room and seating areas.

Coach Carol Lane’s dance program, Ice Dance Elite from Scarborough is the home of senior dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. Although Gilles and Poirier are not obliged to compete this weekend, 1 Senior, 4 Junior and 1 Novice team from Ice Dance Elite will be.

Making it to Challenge is an important milestone within the training calendar, explains Lane: “In many ways, Challenge can be the toughest event of the year, as it is the final hurdle to arrive at nationals, which is the ultimate goal. In a big field, one slip can mean your year is over, so everyone knows this is the event for the A game.”

For many skaters it is also another step on the ladder for Nationals. In this video taken on the last day of Skate Ontario Sectionals 2019, check out Senior Men’s Ilya Kovler as he comments on some of what he has accomplished already this season.

We asked Carol Lane:  In terms of the coolness factor, what is one of the highlights for a new team or any skaters headed to their first challenge?

“For a lot of skaters, it may be their first time flying to an event, the first time travelling as a team, the first time in a real kiss and cry, the first time having to keep to a bus schedule, the first time having judges watch you on practice, and the first time you realise that your coach really is part sheep dog and she tries to keep you all on track:).”

Enjoy the ride skaters! We are all #SkateOntario #Proud!

For more information or to watch the competition online visit:

2019 Skate Canada Challenge

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