The Hay River Figure Skating Club has helped its young members catch up a bit with a training session from a former world-class skater after being out of the arena for two years.
Of course, that was because the Rec Centre – including the arena – was being demolished and rebuilt.
“So they’re two years behind where they should be,” said club president Jaime Harris of the skaters, noting that, in that time, they have only been to a few figure skating camps in Yellowknife.
“Other than that, they’ve just been skating for fun outside, probably,” she added.
The training was guided on Nov. 10 and 11 by Ben Ferreira, who was a member of Canada’s national team from 1999 to 2006 and skated at three world championships in the early 2000s.
Harris said bringing up Ferreira from Edmonton was also to spark renewed interest in figure skating after the two-year break, noting club membership is at about 60.
She said the young skaters are excited to see Ferreira return to Hay River, where he has offered skating clinics in the past.
“The girls love him,” she noted. “They love watching him. And being able to see someone do a double axel or stuff like that is just huge for the girls.”
About 20 girls and boys signed up for the training.
Ferreira was visiting as part of his company called Skating Success, which travels to numerous communities.
The training in Hay River was called a master class.
“In a way, what we do is we focus on some key specific elements that acquire mastery,” Ferreira explained.
On Nov. 10, the young skaters were taught what skills are needed to master the axel jump, which is a jump with a forward takeoff.
On Nov. 11, the training concentrated on spinning.
From his previous visits to Hay River, Ferreira knew the old arena and is pleased to see a new one.
“So it’s neat to see now there’s a building back up again and there’s the new rink and there’s the new energy about it, too,” he said, “So that’s kind of fun. It’s great for the community to have such a wonderful facility.”
Ferreira was in Hay River with his wife, Jadene Ferreira, who helped the skaters off-ice with choreography. The visiting team from Skating Success also included Megan Newnham, who assisted on ice and with choreography.
Ben Ferreira is the full-time coach at the Ice Palace Figure Skating Club in Edmonton.
During his competitive skating career, he won a silver medal and two bronze medals at the Canadian senior championships.
Ferreira sees lots of skating talent in Hay River.
“I think that’s really exciting when we do come up,” he said. “You kind of meet new kids and meet new skaters.”
Ferreira said one of the main goals is to help coaches.
“We’re trying to obviously assist the coaches in delivering their programming and support them in what they need to do,” he said. “So for us it’s been awesome to see the talent that’s up here.”
One of the skaters was Brianna Goodwin, who said the training helped her improve a lot as a figure skater.
“I learned a lot about backspin and stuff like that,” she noted. “Like simple things I already knew how to do, but they were way more detailed today. And I learned a lot more about smaller things that I didn’t know were that big of a deal until today.”
Goodwin said it is good to learn from such a high-calibre skater as Ferreira.
“It’s a lot more clear and it’s a lot more simple because he explains it in different steps, and it’s a lot more easy to understand,” she said. “And he teaches it really well.”
Keira Coakwell also enjoyed the training from the former national team member.
“It’s really cool to have someone who’s at a really high level,” she said.
The training camp was presented with significant support from the corporate sector.
Northwestern Air Lease Ltd. donated flights for all three people flying up from Edmonton. The Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) donated two apartments to accommodate them. And, NTPC and Norland Agencies paid half of the fees for the young participants.