Skater Brittany Straker of Tisdale

Tisdale Summer Figure Skating School

FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Though the icy winds of winter seem far from us now, it is a simple fact that Canada is a winter country and as such winter sports are what we Canadians excel.

On the world stage it was a huge event when Barbara Ann Scott won Canada's gold medal for woman's figure skating. I remember that event and the pride that all Canadians shared in having the best woman skater in the world, you are wondering how could I possibly remember an event that took place in1948 when I was less than four years old. It was such an important thing to Canadians that Movie Tone News newsreels showed the event and her victory time after time through the 1950s. She was an national hero and her reward was a Studebaker car.

Though we Canadians worked at it getting back on the Olympic podium for another gold has been an awesomely difficult task. Other great Canadian skaters have captured our hearts, both men and women

women but at the Calgary Olympics in 1988 it was Elizabeth Manley winning a silver medal and landing jump after jump that inspired thousands to consider the sport and millions of us enjoy the sport despite the weird judging and political conflicts that seem to step into the limelight far more often than should be the case.

Monday afternoon I stood watching the practice session at the Tisdale Summer Figure Skating School and I couldn't help think that anyone of the young people gliding around the arena could be another Barbara Ann or Elizabeth. Everyone of them looked the part.

Barbara Ann Scott skated before daring near impossible jumps had entered the sport but she brought grace and style to the sport and her elegance was copied around the world as Russia and Eastern

Eastern European countries immediately began involving formal dance training into the development of their skaters.

The video that is part of today's story shows several skaters especially the last one to appear, Ms. Fairburn, who is a flowing graceful performer. But watch the video closely and you will see moves that we identify with Russian skaters and every female skater has to master the Elizabeth Manley spin as you will see three skaters working on it in the video.

Unlike team sports like hockey, soccer and baseball, skaters have to tackle the mastering of skills, deal with artistic style and polish up a performance so they can go before an arena full of people and fall on the butt and with a smile get up and carry on. Skating is difficult and involves enormous expenditure in time and money, all of it to conquer one's own demands to seek perfection. If you have a skater in your world give them what they need most, not pointers and criticism but encouragement and your support no matter what.

This year's school goes for three weeks and offers more than three hours of ice time a day, solid coaching and dry land training. Working on their sport in a collaborative spirit with a concentrated time frame offers each participant the start they need on the coming rigorous season of hard work and competition.


As I watched the practice I immediately set up the video camera and began recording the event. This was not a performance this was a simple practice session and yet I could sense the spirit of the sport and the determination by each skater to make themselves better and enjoy what they are doing.

This video clip requires QuickTime and is 5.2MB with a duration of two minutes and twenty-one seconds.





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