A host of developments in the off-season will see changes on the ice for 2011-12 Nelson Figure Skating Club.
Tiny Tots is a new program designed for three and four year-olds too young for CanSkate, but ready to take their first brave steps onto the ice.
Using teaching aids, music and a wide variety of activities, coaches offer a fun and relaxed environment that promotes learning and prepares skaters for stage one or stage two of Canskate. Parents are even encouraged to join their kids on the ice.
The StarSkate program will see a greater emphasis on fitness.
Coaches Rachel Stewart, Yoshie Measures and Sarah Gower are looking to improve skater strength and flexibility through off-ice training.
“Our aim is to help skaters achieve greater speed and agility, and reduce the likelihood of injury,” says Stewart. “The dryland sessions we’ve added include cardio, strength and flexibility, as well as specific figure skating training such as off-ice jumping, practicing spiral positions and off-ice spinning.”
Other components will include talks on nutrition and video analysis.
The push on fitness comes from both Skate Canada and various levels of government.
“There is a realization that children are no longer as active as they once were,” says Gower. “But we also know that sports demands more of athletes at a younger age. So our focus follows the long term athlete development model, which is well researched and centred on matching proper fitness development for figure skaters. This is an important addition because programs like StarSkate are where Canada’s future skating champions are coming from.”
CanSkate remains one of the club’s specialties, with emphasis on providing skating fundamentals for children in all ice sports.
Coach Measures says they are interested in increasing the amount of time kids are actually moving while on the ice, which translates into faster skater development.
“By setting up various stations that focus on ‘go forward’, ‘go backward’ or ‘jump’ then have the kids cycle through the stations, we can increase the amount of movement they get during a 45 minute class. The idea isn’t to rush development, but help kids gain confidence sooner.”
The most notable change for CanSkate parents may be the new minimum requirement for helmets. Skaters at level five and below must now wear a Canadian Standards Associating approved hockey helmet.
Measures says it’s a simple issue of safety.
“We’ve allowed other helmets on the ice in the past, like bike helmets, but they don’t fit as well as hockey helmets and aren’t designed to protect the back of the head,” says Measures.
The competitive season begins in November and the club will be led by veterans Erica Tolles, Christina Champlin, Charly Defouw, Shayne Panko Dool, and Sophie Borhi.
Last year the club wound up its season with a successful ice show. The club was so pleased with the response from the public and the skaters that it is planning another one for March, 2012. This year’s theme is Disney.
“Performance is a big part of the skating world,” notes Gower. “The ice show is designed so that everyone participates and everyone enjoys the experience.”
For more information and registration call 250-352-6510 or visit nelsonfigureskatingclub.ca