There is no better time to exit than when standing at the top, which is exactly where Selena Van Aert is exiting from.
In her final year of skating with the Quesnel Figure Skating club, she finished first in the Super Series’ gold women (the highest category in the series), which was a first for the club.
“It was a great way to end all the years of skating,” Selena Van Aert said.
And for Wendy Berezowsky, her coach, it is a joy to see her standing on top, after working with her for so many years.
“She is such a delight to coach and has so much talent,” she said.
“As a young girl I coached her when formerly in Quesnel and to come back to Quesnel the last couple of seasons and help her fulfill her dream of winning provincially has been very rewarding for me.”
She didn’t plan it this way – last year she took second in the series and set her sights to enjoy her final year of competitive figure skating.
Halfway through, however, she saw winning the series out right was well within her grasp, so she set to it with vigor.
Coming into the final skate, she was riding on top, but the second place skater, Nicole Jukic was nipping at her heels, so Van Aert went into the final skate in Kelowna tugging a lot of stress with her.
“I knew I had to have a good solo to win,” she said.
With fate still smiling down on Van Aert, she was able to watch Jukic do her routine and see her results, which Van Aert knew would not be good enough to knock her off the top spot.
With the stress gone, her final competitive skate was a joy.
“It was a celebration skate,” she said.
“I wanted to enjoy every moment on the ice.”
And without the stress, Van Aert finished second in the competition, in front of Jukic.
Finishing on that high made for a heady mix of feelings once she got off the ice.
“It was a lot of emotions: it was exciting; it was sad,” she said.
The younger skaters presented her with a bouquet after her skate and then the waterworks began.
It’s the culmination of a lot of years of work for Van Aert, who has been in the QFSC since she was just small and had her whole career ahead of her.
Now, looking back she’s delighted at how far she’s come.
“When I was young I looked up to the older skaters and I never thought I would reach those levels,” she said.
Now she’s working to inspire the younger skaters in the club.
“It is such an inspiration for our up and coming skaters as they have witnessed Selena’s dedication and work efforts and seen the reward,” Berezowsky said.
Next year, Van Aert will be away at university, but she doesn’t want to give up the sport which had such an impact on her life, so she’s making sure she can be a part of figure skating in other ways.
“I want to get more into judging and stay connected to the sport,” she said.
So to celebrate her success, Van Aert will be featured at the QFSC’s gala at the end of April.
Along with Van Aert, a troop of skaters went down to Kelowna to compete in the Super Series final.
Beverly Smetaniuk won a silver medal in the under 13/Star 4 Girls and Grace Dunne won bronze in the same category.
Also in the Star 4 under 13: Katherine Osmond finished seventh in her group; Casey Fisher also finished seventh in her group; Alexa McTavish finished sixth in her group; and so did Alyssa Brown.
Carmen Huang finished eighth in the gold women category.
Cassandra Greenwood finished sixth in Senior Silver Women.
In Junior Silver Women Kayla Flanagan finished eighth.
And Madison Nickolet finished 20th in Senior Bronze Women.