Canada has made a more conscious effort in recent year to reach its younger figure skaters by offering elite summer camps.
And two skaters from the local Border Figure Skating Club, Sarah McComb, 10, and Shane Katona, 14, had such an opportunity last week at the Northern Ontario Section Skaters Development Camp in North Bay.
The three-day camp, which attracted 85 figure skaters from across the north, was a busy regime of skating, off-ice training, fitness tips, and sports psychology.
Local coach Penny McComb, who attended the camp with her daughter, said it was a worthwhile experience for both her and the skaters.
“I didn’t receive any special training because I went down as a chaperone but absolutely I felt fortunate to take in the seminar,” she enthused.
"You always see new ideas, and for the kids, they were taught off-ice techniques for stretching, theatre and on-ice field movements.
“This camp wasn’t for the recreational skater," she noted. "It was for the more advanced, younger skater so the Figure Skating Association of Canada could mold [them] at a younger age—like the European skaters.”
McComb said there were six different seminars for the skaters, including “Sports Vision" and an "Imagine the Possibility" one which was designed as a sort of a sport psychology program to allow the kids to "Dream the Big Dream.”
For Katona, who skated at the all-Ontario championships in Kitchener earlier this year, the camp was a chance to receive some finer points of the sport from top-notch instructors.
The school was instructed by Doug Ladret, a former top Canadian pairs skater, his wife, Lara, and a choreographer.
“It was a lot of fun," enthused Katona. ”They taught us how to jump and spin properly, how to train or eyes and how that could affect our skating, and how to prevent injuries.
“They also taught us about goal-setting for the day, the month and years,” he added.