Quesnel figure skaters have been busy lately with skills testing.

Quesnel figure skaters have been busy lately with skills testing.

Figure skaters make the grade

Members of the Quesnel Figure Skating Club passed a recent round of skills testing with flying colours.

Members of the Quesnel Figure Skating Club passed a recent round of skills testing with flying colours.

“I was extremely proud of them,” coach Sharon Chow said of the QFSC skaters.

“We had about an 87 per cent average and pulled off some of the highest marks I’ve ever seen at testing.

“I was blown away.”

An important component of that success, is the use of a recently purchased software program called Dartfish.

“The program allows skaters to view video of themselves skating, side-by-side with a previous video of themselves or with a video of another skater retrieved from YouTube or Skate Canada,” Chow explained.

Skaters also have the opportunity to view their skating in slow motion to pick up the finer details of their technique.

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, it holds true with this program,” Chow said.

The value of the program was noticeable, Chow said, as the skaters immediately applied what they saw in the video to make corrections in their skating.

One of the skaters taking advantage of the Dartfish program is Kina Ellison.

Ellison, 18, along with Chow, used the Dartfish program to learn the more than 100 steps in the Yankee Polka diamond dance routine.

To learn the dance, coach and skater watched a video of the dance routine, then began dancing the routine in the meeting hall at the arena, with Chow stepping into the role of Ellison’s  dance partner.

Ellison, a grade 12 student at Correlieu secondary school, then stepped onto the ice and practiced her steps alone.

At the testing, in Prince George, Ellison then had 40 minutes of practice time with her dance partner, Graham Casey, before stepping onto the ice for the actual testing.

The 40 minutes of practice was put to good use, allowing the partners to figure out where each will be during the dance.

You have to work on your timing, figure out the arm positions and the holes where you can step,” Ellison said of how she and Casey spent their practice time.

“You always have to worry where the other person is.”

Despite the limited practice time with Casey, Ellison passed the Yankee diamond dance test with flying colours.

“They did a great job,” Chow said of Ellison and her dance partner, a former professional skater hired by the testing committee to partner with other skaters.

With three diamond dance routines under her belt, Ellison is now in the throes of learning a fourth diamond dance to earn her diamond dance certification.

“It’s a goal I have set and something not many skaters get unless they are competitive skaters,” she said of her motivation to reach the diamond dance certification.

This marks Ellison’s final year as a skater with QFSC, but that doesn’t mean she’s stepping away from the sport as she has already begun learning how to be a skating judge and has achieved certification to judge novice skaters.

Also making good use of the Dartfish software is Olivia Marleau, 13, who joined Ellison as the only two skaters in the QFSC with their novice competitor ranking.

“She did an excellent job of the test,” Chow said.

“It was a pleasure to watch her skate her routine.”

The routine, Marleau explained, included four jumps of two revolutions, including a double Lutz, a jump that had given her trouble in the past.

“I had to learn to jump higher and rotate faster,” Marleau said.

Despite the extra practice, she still fell when she attempted the jump during testing, but rather than take the full deduction for missing the jump, Marleau inserted a double toe jump into her routine to help make up the difference.

“I was relieved, I was nervous,” she said.

“I was stressed out about landing my four doubles, I needed those to pass the test.”

Several skaters have turned their eye to further testing, with the goal of getting their gold standard before the program is shut down by Skate Canada this summer, Chow explained.

“We have some kids who have junior or senior silver skills who want to get their gold skills before the testing program ends.” 

“They want their ‘gold feet’”

Meanwhile, after several weeks of practice, QFSC skaters are off to the Cariboots and Blades competition in Williams Lake this weekend, Feb. 3-5.