Grace and love of skating gives skater a competitive edge

Halle Classen earns five gold in big regional championship, and Terrace team wins the trophy

Radiant and enthusiastic in her jazzy interpretive skate, Halle Classen twirled through her final spin in one of five categories where she took gold at the regional championships recently.

A deep delight in the sport, and a natural gift, marks Halle’s skating to give her an edge in competition, even one as large as the Cariboo North Central Regional Championships, which draws an estimated 300-400 skaters. The region spans from Prince Rupert to Dawson Creek, reaching as far north as Fort Nelson and as far south as Williams Lake.

And although the emphasis is not on competition, with points not even posted, the championship does include skaters in the competitive stream.

The Terrace girls glistened after the tournament, winning the most medals to claim the team trophy for the third year in a row at the Prince George event Jan. 18-20.

Along with others, Halle Classen said she had a blast, and was quick to pipe up about her love for the sport.

“Every time I step on the ice, I just feel so happy, I can’t stop smiling,” she said. “I like advancing on my own, and just improving myself.”

Classen won five gold medals at the championship, competing in the Star 5, under-13 division, and winning every division she was in. That included a freestyle solo, interpretive skate, elements, dance and a creative salsa-style number that she made up on the fly.

She spun gracefully through her freestyle solo, a number performed to Black Swan that weaves in the Star-5 jumps and spins, including several double loops, which Halle loves.

“Not just anybody can do Swan Lake,” said coach Jennifer Kuehne. “You have to be able to be a graceful skater and do ballet arms and things like that.”

And Halle’s interpretive takes on a whole different flavour. Performed to “All that Jazz,” the lively number is designed to broadcast her personality and strengths.

“It’s quick, fast, jazzy moves,” explained Kuehne, adding that Halle’s happy personality and fast footwork come together for a spunky upbeat routine.

Halle says that’s her favourite.

“It brings me a lot of joy,” she said, unable to pinpoint exactly what she loves about the routine.

Halle’s been figure skating since January 2014, enticed by the fun-looking “twirl and pizzaz”.

“When I was in Can Skate, just watching all the girls twirling around, I’m like, ‘oh that looks really fun’,” she said.

Her mom, Marsha Classen, said her daughter simply loves skating.

“There’s something about her when she skates, there’s this joy… She touches the ice, she lights up… there’s something in her that she’s able to bring, she captivates you,” Marsha said.

And Halle was not the only Terrace skater to stand out.

Maya Lecuyer and Maia Guerreiro both earned three gold medals, in addition to silver and bronze performances.

One gold, as well as other medals, were also earned by Makayla Forrest, Brianne Monsen and Kaytlin Gingles, and in the main freestyle solo event, both Hanah Lee and Camryn Monsen spun out gold.

This is the seventh year since 1970 that Terrace has won. They got the trophy three years in a row back in 2003, 2004, and 2005, and then again in 2007. Now they’re on another three-year streak, having won it 2016 and 2017 and now again this year.

Coach Jennifer Kuehne credits the effort and training.

“I think it’s because our club trains all disciplines,” she said, explaining that it makes the skaters well-rounded and gives them the chance to win multiple medals.

Most clubs focus more exclusively on one or two disciplines, Kuehne said.

And while admitting that club size does affect the chances of winning the trophy, Kuehne says Terrace is not the biggest team this year. Clubs have a range of three to 40 skaters, and Terrace has 17, with six clubs larger than them and three with more than 30 competitors.

“All of our skaters have done well, not just a few,” Kuehne said.

Other skaters who earned medals were Aaliyah Beeton, Kayeanna Mackenzie, and Teysean Henry.

And the six younger skaters all earned ribbons in their evaluations, including Emma DeCario, Cricket Elliott, Cassidy Melo, Kally Mackenzie, Emily Larmour and Trinity Hole.

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