ESTEVAN - The Estevan Figure Skating Club is getting ready to host the biggest event for the sport in Saskatchewan.
The Winter Classic, formerly known as the Jean Norman competition, is a Skate Canada Saskatchewan provincial invitational championship that will be held at Affinity Place and the Power Dodge Arena from March 4-6. It is also the final event for Skate Canada Saskatchewan this season.
It allows for all of the skaters in the province to compete against each other.
“Normally, most of their competitions, other than qualifying events, are held in their respective regions,” said Kathryn Gilliss, who is the technical representative for the event. “This is the big event that’s hosted each year that allows all of the skaters from all over the province to compete in one location, and with skaters they might not always be in direct competition with.”
Affinity Place and the Power Dodge Arena will have skating throughout the day the first two days. Skaters will also be on the ice at Affinity for the final day.
The public is invited to drop by and watch the skating throughout the weekend.
Approximately 200 skaters are expected to compete. Gilliss noted they have nearly 500 entries, but many skaters are in at least two events, as they might do a free skate and an element, or a free skate and a dance.
Because it’s an invitational event, rather than based on a qualifier, it means there will be a variety of ages and skill levels represented.
There will be junior, novice and pre-novice events in the competitive stream, but much of the weekend is dedicated to the StarSkate program, which Gilliss said is the more general program that Skate Canada has, and allows for competition and development of skills in both free skate and elements.
“We also have artistic events this weekend,” said Gilliss. “We have adult events. We have Special Olympics events, and some dance events as well with some solo pattern dances.”
A pairs skating exhibition is also on the schedule.
Gilliss noted the club has put out a call for raffle items and donations for the competition, and it will rely heavily on volunteers. The officials are all qualified and will come down for the event.
Volunteers will be needed for ice captaining, medal presentations, running results to the data room and other work in the two rinks.
Estevan was supposed to host the Winter Classic last year, but all competitions were cancelled because of the pandemic.
“The rinks, in some ways, have to be retrofitted to skating. The judging panels have to be put into the players’ boxes,” said Gilliss.
There are a lot of hard-working people who will make the entire weekend happen, she said.
Every event that happens typically has a technical representative, which is usually an official with background knowledge. Her roles include setting up the schedule and arranging the officials’ assignments. Gilliss is a certified judge, so she will also serve as an official.
Members of the Estevan Figure Skating Club were also at the Region 1 and 6 competition in Arcola on Feb. 20. Twenty-five members competed. Estevan skaters brought home a lot of hardware and ribbons in all events. For most skaters, it was their first competition ever due to COVID limitations the last two seasons.