The Carman Skating Club is excited to be hosting the 2018 Central Regional STARSkate Competition this weekend. The local figure skaters pictured above will be representing the town on Saturday, Jan. 13 when the annual competition is held in Carman for the first time in nine years. Organizers are hoping to fill the Carman Arena with hometown crowds throughout the day. (EMILY DISTEFANO)
Fans of figure skating and homegrown talent are invited to watch eighty-six competitors from ten skating clubs across Central Manitoba showing off their skills at the Central Regional STARSkate Championships in Carman this weekend.
The competition, which is set for Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Carman Arena, will be the first one hosted in Carman since 2009.
Club president and event co-chair Donna Wytinck noted that the Carman club is on the smaller size, so getting to host a major event like this is exciting for everyone involved.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “When we had the opportunity it was a bit nerve wracking...but it’s come together, the kids are really pumped about it, there’s a lot of hometown pride and I’m just really proud of how much the skating club has grown. A few years ago it wouldn’t have been possible to take this on.”
Figure skating has definitely been growing in popularity in the area. When Wytinck first started working with the club, there were only two figure skaters.
Now there are 15, and the Carman club is even home to the only three boys who will be competing at the Central championships.
“We’ve grown ever year,” Wytinck said. “It’s definitely gaining momentum in our town.”
Wytinck is also pleased that the sport of figure skating is getting more attention in general.
A figure skater herself growing up, now her seven-year-old daughter Amelia is on the ice.
“I loved the dedication that it took, and I loved that you got to be a performer,” said Wytinck. “There aren’t many sports out there where you’re the sole performer on stage and you’re placed to medals...it’s really neat that it’s a mix of athleticism, and artisticness and musicality.”
She noted that many artistic pursuits focus on entertainment, but figure skating is focuses on entertainment and technical proficiency.
“It is all competition...so the nerves and the excitement really build,” she said. “We’ve been on the ice since Oct. 5 working on our programs and elements and dances.”
Wytinck said the support from the community has already been amazing.
The club recently canvassed local businesses to help fund the event.
“We were just blown away with the support the local community gave us in sponsorship...we thought we might get a few donations here and there, and all the businesses of Carman were very supportive and helpful,” said Wytinck.
The club is hoping to draw more support in the form of large crowds throughout the day on Saturday. Anyone from the community is welcome to check out the action, whether they have ties to the club or not.
“It’s rare that our town will get a caliber like this,” said Wytinck. “Even at these stages it’s really entertaining to come watch the skaters.”
Besides the choreographed Free Skate programs, there is a team event, an Element event, an Interpretive Skating event and a Creative Improv skate-off.
Last year, the Carman club brought home a number of medals from the regional competition, including a couple of golds for the team events.
Head coach Jody James, who brings more than 30 years experience to her role, is in charge of the choreography (for everything except the Creative Improv category).
She said spectators can expect all the programs to feature footwork, dance steps, spins and jumps.
“Most [skaters] will do up to an axel,” she said.
James started coaching in Carman five years ago, and is excited that her students get to skate home for a change.
“We’ve never been able to skate at our home rink,” she noted. The current skaters are too young to have participated in the 2009 competition in Carman.
“I think the kids are all looking forward to it,” she said.
You can find the Carman Skating Club online at www.facebook.com/carman.skatingclub.