For the past 8 years and until very recently, 15 year old Olivia Marleau has been skating and training with the Quesnel Figure Skating Club under the guidance of coach Jo-Ann Nadalin. When the ice was taken out of the Twin Arenas, in April of last year she made the tough decision to leave home and move to Kelowna to train full time at the Centre for Skating Excellence (Kelowna Skating Club) and it has paid off with a qualification for nationals.
“In order to be able to skate competitively against other skaters in the Novice Ladies category, I need to be on the ice year-round. Kelowna has been my summer training location for the past three years, so it was logical that I go there,” she said
She enrolled in the High Peformance program at OKM school, which allows flexibility in her academic schedule.
Olivia, a Quesnel Sports Wall of Famer, has posted impressive results within the Cariboo North Central Region in the past and has had feedback and encouragement to continue her skating development.
The move helped her to progress, but there remain draw backs.
“I miss my family and friends in Quesnel, (my Mom is with me here in Kelowna), but I wanted to see how far I could go with my skating and the coaching staff and facilities at KSC are among the best.”
A few weeks ago, Olivia stepped onto the competition ice at BC/YT Sectional Championships in Richmond and finished in third place in the Novice Ladies category. In addition to the bronze medal, her performance there earned her a spot on the BC/YT Provincial Team (top four at Sectionals) and a slot in the Skate Canada Challenge event in Regina this past weekend.
“I am just thrilled for her,” Nadlin said of her former protegé.
“Come January, Olivia will have a national ranking.”
Sharon Chow, the current dance coach for the Quesnel Figure Skating club is likewise proud of her former student.
“It makes me extremely proud to see one of our skaters moving into ‘the big time.’ This is a huge achievement for any skater; but for a skater that has done most of her training in an area where we don’t have the advantage of year round ice time it’s even more of an accomplishment,” she said.
Skate Canada Challenge, a national level competition, is the qualifying event for Canadian National Championships for novice, junior and senior levels in all skating disciplines (singles, pairs, dance). Each section (there are 13 in Canada) sends their top four qualifiers (eight for Quebec) to challenge and there, the top 18 finishers advance to the National Championships being held in Ottawa in January 2014.
Olivia finished 18 out of 51 competitors in Novice Ladies. Qualifying for Nationals has been her career highlight, as well as seeing Kaetlyn Osmond (reigning Senior Ladies National Champion) compete at Challenge.
“She was so awesome!”
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Canadian National Championships as well as an Olympic qualifying year (Senior level only).
“Its going to be so much fun! I’m looking forward to seeing the Senior competitors and National Champion Patrick Chan. And I hope to get a chance to skate on the Rideau Canal, just for fun.”
Until then, Olivia will resume her training of up to four hours per day.
“I am fighting a cold right now, but I’m anxious to get back into my routine so I can be prepared for Canadians.”
She had a great time at home in Quesnel for a few days for Christmas and sends her thanks to everybody for their encouragement and support.
–Submitted by Natalie Marleau