© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Samantha Zurakowski is the lone member of the Prince Albert Skating Club to qualify for the Saskatchewan Winter Games, which begin in just over a week in Prince Albert. Zurakowski has qualified for the pre-novice competitions after claiming a spot during trials held in December. Zurakowski, who is a senior member of the local club, will be using the Winter Games as a springboard for a busy spring season as she will also be competing at the regional qualifier in Tisdale later this month and is expected to be taking part in the Jean Norman provincial competition in Moose Jaw early next month.
With the Winter Olympics in Sochi set to begin this weekend and the Saskatchewan Winter Games scheduled to open in Prince Albert in 10 days, one of the more popular sports at both events is expected to be figure skating.
Countless hours of training and preparation are required to reach either of those levels and that is where the Prince Albert Skating Club comes in.
The local skating club, which boasts close to 200 members, grooms skaters at a young age and with various programs in place helps skating enthusiasts improve their skills and if they so desire, climb the competitive ladder.
“We’re really trying to build from the younger members,” says Carla Jenkins, a lead coach with the local skating club. “We want to see more of the younger skaters stay longer and branch out. There is a lot you can get out of figure skating.”
Young skaters begin in a program called pre-school skating with kids as young as three getting out on the ice and getting accustomed to being on skates. There are four different sessions available to those interested in taking up the sport with each session having 10 half-hour classes.
From there the skaters move up to CanSkate where more time is spent on fundamentals. This is a great training program for hockey players as well as figure skaters with basic skills helping with technical development in both disciplines.
The final level is Star Skate and that is where figure skaters prepare for competitions. Those who want to continue developing their skills, but would rather just be tested as opposed to entering judged events, can also participate in this program.
It is from the CanSkate and Star Skate programs that the Prince Albert Skating Club is preparing a number of participants for a couple of major competitions. Local skaters are expected to compete in 70 events at the upcoming regional qualifier in Tisdale at the end of February with a number of members also training for the Jean Norman provincial competition, which is slated for Moose Jaw early next month.
Trials for the Saskatchewan Winter Games were already held with Samantha Zurakowski being the lone local skater to make the Lakeland District team. Zurakowski will be competing in the pre-novice competitions when they are held at the Steuart Arena on Feb. 17-19.
While the local club has a strong membership base, Jenkins notes that more skaters are always welcome. As skaters get older they tend to leave the club and Jenkins says having more younger skaters also gives them a larger volunteer base to draw from and that is another very important factor as to why the club is so successful.
Interest in figure skating should be piqued by the upcoming major extravaganzas and hopefully the local skating club will benefit from that. For those already in the club, they have plenty to shoot for in the next month and it will be their chance to grab some of the spotlight.