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Grace Smyth competes at Skate Canada Challenge

More than 500 skaters descended upon Regina from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 for the 2012 Skate Canada Challenge and local 14-year-old Grace Smyth was one of them.
Grace Smyth of Carlyle competed at the Skate Canada Challenge on Dec. 2 and 3 in Regina.

More than 500 skaters descended upon Regina from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 for the 2012 Skate Canada Challenge and local 14-year-old Grace Smyth was one of them.

The young skater, who has been skating since she was five years old, qualified for the Skate Canada Challenge by placing top four provincially in the Pre Novice Ladies division. Currently trained in Virden, MB by long-time coach Patricia Hole, Smyth competed at the provincial sectionals held in Aberdeen, SK earlier in November to secure her spot at the competition.

Smyth, who is the daughter of Dale and Cindy Smyth of Carlyle, achieved her goal for this season by competing at the Skate Canada Challenge. The young lady was one of 53 athletes from across Canada to compete in her category.

"My favourite part about skating at the Skate Canada Challenge was being able to compete against Canada's best," said Smyth. "I was very excited to compete at the Challenge! It was my first time going, and it was an amazing experience. I was very nervous going into my short program, but once I practiced and was able to see what it was all about, I had lots of fun. I was pleased with both of my programs and I was so happy to have been a part of it all. I am so motivated to come back home and start training again."

Smith's training goes year-round and includes time not only spent on the ice, but dry land training as well. "I train throughout the entire year," said Smyth. "Our main training starts in the summer and continues to December or January, depending on qualifying events. Then we continue training throughout the year to prepare for the competition season and to stay in good physical shape."

"A typical week is very busy! Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I skate two hours before school along with either spin class or an off-ice fitness class. I also help with the local CanSkate program two days a week and attend ballet on Wednesday."

As for what's up next? "In 2012, I will be skating with the Saskatchewan High Performance Team on The Road show. We travel the province and put on a few shows in early March. I also will be doing an ice show in Virden."

And as for the future? "Grace has a few avenues that she can choose," said long-time coach Hole. "She has really improved in her freeskate, but she also loves to dance, so there are a few options for her and she can decide which way she wants to go."

"She is a great kid to coach. She has really taken responsibility of her training, stepping onto the ice and knowing what she needs to work on. She has now moved to Virden [for on-ice training] and has taken that step to really focus on her training."

But Smyth contributes some of her success to her support system. "I had so much support at the competition and throughout the year," said Smyth. "My coaches Patty Hole and Tyler Bidnyk have been so good to me and have helped me out so much. My parents have been amazing through all of this and I can't thank them enough! My sister also came to watch the competition and I also had fellow Saskatchewan team members cheering me on."

"All of my friends back home in Carlyle have been amazing. I am so lucky to have such a great support group."