Terrace’s Special Olympic skater won sixth in the Canadian National Figure Skating Competition last week.
Competing in Corner Brook, Newfoundland on March 1-5, Laura Dale joined 11 other skaters from across Canada in the Singles level 3 division.
They started with a skate off, where they were split into A and B categories.
Dale earned a place in the A-group with five others, and then performed a few days later on national ice, where she finished sixth.
“I was thrilled to skate at the competition, but it was hard to wait all day to go on the ice,” Dale said in an email last week. “I wish I hadn’t fallen in the beginning but I got up and tried my best. I really wanted a medal but I am happy with my certificate.”
Beyond the performance itself, Dale said going to nationals was huge for her.
“The Opening Ceremonies were fantastic. Each team had their own song and were led in by young kids who were from a gymnastics club. They did cartwheels and hand springs like cheerleaders. There were so many athletes from everywhere,” she said.
Dale said she enjoyed her two Team B.C. coaches and the event, despite the unfamiliar surroundings and faces.
“I had lots of texts from family and friends and that helped me not be so lonely,” she said. “I made some new friends and am glad I am skating with Special Olympics.”
Dale was considering hanging up her skates after nationals this year.
“She’s been skating for a long time,” said her mom Jody Kelly, adding that the hype and pressure of nationals have affected her enjoyment of the sport.
Some dynamics in Dale’s life have also changed to contribute to the waning excitement for skating, however some changes in the Special Olympics may put more thrill back into the sport.
“Laura was excited to find out that Special Olympics will [is moving to] include the Interpretive event, her favourite event where she gets to be creative on the ice,” said coach Jennifer Kuehne.
“With the news of the Interpretive event being added in, Laura will be taking the spring/summer to regroup and decide if she will return to figure skating competition next season.”
No time frame has been set for when the interpretive skating will be incorporated into Special Olympics, but it would be best to start in the first year of a Special Olympics winter cycle, said a communications officer from Special Olympics BC.
That cycle is finishing in 2017 with worlds for the top national skaters, and will start again with regional qualifiers in 2018, continuing with provincials in 2019, nationals 2020, and worlds 2021.