Skaters vie for entries to Canadian championships at 2014 Skate Canada Challenge

OTTAWA, ON:  Approximately 500 skaters will be heading to Regina, Sask., for the 2014 Skate Canada Challenge, taking place from December 4-8, 2013. This year’s event marks the third straight year the event has been hosted at The Co-Operators Centre at Evraz Place.

This is the sole qualifying event for novice, junior, and senior skaters to earn berths for the 100th anniversary 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships taking place in Ottawa, Ont., from January 9-15, 2014. In order to qualify for the 2014 Skate Canada Challenge all skaters have advanced through their home sections.

The 2014 Skate Canada Challenge will also see the crowning of the 2014 Canadian Pre-Novice Champions in men’s, women’s, pair, and ice dance.

National team members and Canadian bronze medallists Paige Lawrence, 23, Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers, 26, Kipling, Sask., will represent home section Saskatchewan in the senior pair discipline. Canadian bronze medallist Andrei Rogozine, 20, Richmond Hill, Ont., will be competing in senior men’s. The senior ladies division will feature all three 2013 Canadian medallists, Kaetlyn Osmond, 17, Marystown, Nfld. & Sherwood Park, Alta., Gabrielle Daleman, 15, Newmarket, Ont., and Alaine Chartrand, 17, Prescott, Ont.

Other notable contenders are national team members, Liam Firus, 20, North Vancouver, B.C., in senior men’s, Veronik Mallet, 19, Sept-Îles, Que., in senior women’s, and Kharis Ralph, 21, Toronto, Ont., and Asher Hill, 22, Pickering, Ont., in senior ice dance. In addition, three-time Canadian Champion Emanuel Sandhu, 33, Vancouver, B.C., will compete in Regina for the second consecutive year following a six year competitive hiatus.

Local Regina competitors include: Ai Lin (Pre-Novice Women), Koen Kucher-Paulmark (Pre-Novice Men), Nina Hill (Novice Women), and Garrett Gosselin (Senior Men).

General admission tickets will be available for purchase at The Co-Operators Centre at Evraz Place throughout the event. All-event tickets are $40, day tickets will be available for purchase for $10 on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and $15 on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free for children ages 12 and under.

Media who have not already applied for accreditation are asked to contact Allan Gordon, Communications Assistant. He will be the media contact at the event and can be reached onsite at 613.229.7114 or at [email protected].

Elvis Stojko still pushing the envelope post career

There’s no doubt about it. Three-time world figure skating champion Elvis Stojko walks into a room, and at age 41, there’s still an energy that surrounds this guy. There always has been. There always will be.

He’s tanned and lean, looking just as fit as his competitive days when he won two Olympic silver medals and seven Canadian championships. “Fear less and hope more,” is his mantra.

Now he’s levelled his sights at new challenges: kart racing (“These things rip,” he says of his karts. It’s so Elvis.) and singing in the broadway show, Chicago in New York and Toronto. And he’s still skating in shows and carnivals. He’s finishing up his autobiography, which will be out next year. He’ll work as a journalist for at the Sochi Olympics, just as he did in Vancouver. He’s so busy, but his eyes are alive, with all the juggling and all the fun.

These Olympics will ring differently for Stojko than the last one, when he sided with Evgeny Plushenko and the idea that a guy shouldn’t be Olympic champion without a quad. Since Vancouver, the quad has been reborn with a vengeance, with rule changes that award more marks to the four-rotation jump and a change in the under-rotation rules that make a slight cheat not a life-threatening event. Even Russian’s young Maxim Kovtun, who may not make it to the Games, plans five quads.

“Now the guys are pushing the limit,” Stojko says. “Guys are doing quad Lutz’s now. That’s what I call pushing the envelope. And it’s awesome to see and it makes it exciting again. It puts some risk back into it. Now it’s back up to a standard to where I feel it should be.”

He’s well aware of his weaknesses and his strengths when he competed. “No athlete is going to have absolutely everything,” Stojko says. He’s seen athletes who focus too much on their natural talents, but neglect their weaknesses, to their peril.

“I was naturally gifted just as an athlete, naturally gifted being able to focus and have will power,” Stokjo says. He wasn’t called the Terminator for nothing: in the annals of figure skating, there will always be the picture of Stojko doubling over in pain after he completed his long program at the Nagano Olympics, despite the fact that he endured a groin injury that week and he’d aggravated it during the program.

“There were other things in skating that I really had to work at,” he said. “One was cardio. One was because I was very athletic on one side, a lot of people thought I wasn’t artistic, so I had to. That was always a fight for me. It was always something I had to work for and really train.”

Stojko met Patrick Chan last year during some shows over the winter: Stojko, 2008 world champion Jeff Buttle, four-time world champion Kurt Browning and Chan were part of a show. He and Chan hit it off. “He’s a great kid,” Stojko said. “It only makes you stronger if you only know the truth. And people are going to tell Patrick he is awesome all the time.”

Chan knew he could learn a lot from Stojko, as tough a competitor as ever stepped onto an ice surface. He picked Stojko’s brain about preparing, training and competition.

Stojko advised Chan not to get caught up during the week with winning every practice. “You start doing that, and you’ll have nothing left,” Stojko said. “You’d be an easy target if I was competing against you.”

“What do you mean?” Chan asked.

“I would make sure I would do my jumps in front of you,” Stojko told him. “I would land them all the time, get you pumped up, to just blow your wad for the week and have nothing left in the tank for the end.”

Stojko told him that when he competed at the world championships in 1997, he went out on the practice the morning of the long program, landed three jumps, blocked out his program and got off the ice. People wondered if something was wrong with Stojko.

He skated the long program cleanly and won the world title. “I trusted myself,” Stojko said. “I didn’t have to win every practice and impress at every practice.” He told Chan that people would talk about his practices but they’d remember only his competition.  “It’s part of the confidence you have to have in yourself,” Stojko told him. “You have to be confident that you don’t have to constantly win everything and keep yourself believing that you can do it. You should already know.”

Stojko isn’t short of confidence. He competes in kart racing with athletes half his age. It won’t be a hobby for him. He’s pushing the bar, using his focus to get faster. It will become his No. 1 thing as he eventually leaves his skating world behind. In March, at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto, he will play the daunting role of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago – and it won’t be his first time on stage. He also sang in Grease in Toronto and has released an album. Little-known fact: his father, Steve Stojko was a talented singer.

It seems there is nothing that Stojko can’t do. It’s a mindset.

Beverley Smith

Two New Chief Officers Appointed at Skate Canada

OTTAWA, ON: Two new executive leaders have been appointed to Skate Canada. Patricia Chafe will join the organization as the Chief Sport Officer and Bethany Tory will join the organization as its Chief Operating Officer.

“These leaders will bring new ideas and increased operational efficiency to the work on Skate Canada’s 2014 to 2018 strategic plan”, said Dan Thompson, CEO, Skate Canada. “I’m confident that they will both bring new energy and skills into the organization, strengthening our results and helping to ensure that Canada remains a leading global skating nation.

The Chief Sport Officer role is a new one for Skate Canada and encompasses all functions relating to athletes, coaches and officials.

Patricia Chafe returns to Skate Canada to assume this position after several years of running her own consultancy practice. Her focus will be to drive Skate Canada’s strategy across the full spectrum of athlete, coach and officials development programs, including skating programs, high performance, national team and competition delivery. With an extensive background in the sport as a skater, coach and official, she has a unique understanding of all aspects of skating. She has also provided analytical support in preparation for International Skating Union congresses, and served as a performance analyst for Skate Canada’s world and Olympic teams. Chafe holds a Ph.D. and B.Ed. from Dalhousie University, and an M.Math from the University of Waterloo.  She will begin her new duties on December 2, 2013.

As the Chief Operating Officer, Bethany Tory will be accountable for running the business, directing its member services, finance and administration and technology strategy. Most recently Tory served as Executive Director of Membership Services with Scouts Canada, and she brings extensive experience in leadership, program management, strategic planning, financial management and budgeting, stakeholder engagement and corporate governance experience to her new role.  A former competitive skater, and a qualified figure skating coach, she is a graduate of the Queen’s University’s MBA program and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University. She will begin her new position on November 25, 2013.

The third position on the Skate Canada executive team, expected to be filled in early January, will be a Chief Marketing Officer responsible for business development, communications, sponsorship, marketing, digital content and event management.

Canadians earn berth at Grand Prix Final

MOSCOW – Ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., and pairs team Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto earned berths for next month’s ISU Grand Prix Final with medal performances on Saturday.

At the sixth and last stop on the circuit before the Final, Weaver and Poje posted the best score in Saturday’s free dance to win the silver medal with 163.14 points.  They were also second at Skate Canada last month.

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia held on to top spot at 168.32 and Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S., were third at 153.37.

“We were very pleased with our free dance,” said Poje.  “We wanted to make sure we came back strong after a disappointing score in our short program.  It wasn’t a season best score but for us it was like a season’s best performance.”

Poje said he and Weaver didn’t hold anything back on Saturday.

“At Skate Canada we were a bit timid,” he said.  “So we wanted to make sure today that we showed the emotion and the softness at the right moments.  We were a little stronger with our technical elements too.  We are on a really good momentum right now.”

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto were sixth.

In pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the gold medal with 206.33 points.  Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia were second at 201.61 and Moore-Towers and Moscovitch snared the bronze at 188.73.

The Canadians continued their wave of success in 2013 which has included three international medals and  fourth at the world championships.  On Saturday, Moore-Towers fell hard on a lift dismount bruising her hip.

“Neither of us had our best skate today,” said Moore-Towers.  “It was a bit messy at times but nothing that we missed is something we are greatly concerned about.  We’re going to keep training the same way and we are still confident.  Our goal was to make the Grand Prix Final and we achieved that.”

Moscovitch said the pair came in to the competition well prepared after some solid training since Skate Canada a month ago.

“We’ll definitely be hungry at the Grand Prix Final,” he said.  “It’s always special to make the Final especially in an Olympic year.  It’s an opportunity to be among the top-six in the world and competing there will set us up well for the second half of the season.”

Canada has qualified five entries for the Grand Prix Final  set for December 5-8 in Fukuoka, Japan.  The other three are Patrick Chan of Toronto in men’s singles, Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., in ice dancing and Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., in pairs.

Louis Daignault

Skate Canada unites for Bullying Awareness Week

Skate Canada’s clubs are a warm and welcoming place for children, teens and parents. We are proud to have taken a strong stance on bullying through our Membership Complaints Policy listed in our rule book. This week in conjunction with Bullying Awareness Week we have reinforced that with a position statement on bullying which highlights our no tolerance stance on this issue.

Our members are the face and heartbeat of our organization. From our volunteers, CanSkaters, adult skaters, officials, high performance athletes and staff we want to continue to foster an environment that allows everyone to feel safe and welcomed.

Olympic silver medallist and coach Elizabeth Manley feels passionately about this issue. “As we look at the situation of bullying, happening to so many, we need to take a stand and let our youth know we are there for them. There is no place for bullying anywhere and especially at the rink.”

“We need to join together and fight this, we can make our youth feel and live in a safer environment. Speak up if you know this is happening to someone. If we all speak up and stand up we can make life so much better for everyone,” finished Manley.

We all have a responsibility in creating an atmosphere that includes and accepts all members; we encourage all of our members to join us in standing up to any type of bullying.

Skate Canada’s Position Statement on Bullying is posted on the Members Only site under “Members”.

Skate Canada clubs show off their skating talent through Mini Blades program

Georgi Reidl, 12-year-old figure skater, has a mean spiral with a pair of long legs that stretch forever. Austin Martell, 12-year-old intrepid hockey player, has the striped toque, a Christmas present that never seems to leave his head. And he’s game for anything.

Together, these small-town athletes from Stayner, Ont., are the Mini Blades champions of Canada. They are part of the bubbling up of an underground movement in Canadian skating clubs that has, with some tongue in cheek, copied the format of the television show Battle of the Blades, which pairs up hockey players with figure skaters, Canada’s two main winter passions.

“We are always looking for new ways to raise funds to keep the membership fees down,” said Stayner Skating Club president, Heather Trott. “One of our neighbouring clubs had one and it was quite successful, so we thought we’d give it a whirl.”

Over the past few seasons, Sandra Bezic, chief steward of the Battle of the Blades show, has become aware of this phenomenon. She could see in her google alerts that multiple communities across the country were staging their own version of the show to raise finances. On YouTube, she saw skaters of all sorts and ages, even hockey and figure skating coaches getting into the act.

“We were thrilled to hear about this,” Bezic said. The television show started a Mini Blades pilot project, restricting it to skaters between 3 and 13 and with the help of Skate Canada, approached seven clubs across the country to take up the challenge.

Bezic is also a five-time Canadian pair champion, world renowned choreographer and Skate Canada hall of Fame member.

Mathieu Dandenault, a three-time Stanley Cup champion who skated with Marie-France Dubreuil in Battle of the Blades, was touched by the Mini Blade thing. “I think it’s really nice and the fact that we’re sort of breaking down barriers, about big macho hockey players, and hockey parents, especially, to be open,” he said. “I have so much more respect for figure skaters and especially the men. They are better skaters. They are stronger in most elements. So if NHL guys do it, then it’s okay for younger kids to do it and that’s the important message. It’s for everyone, and you’re not being laughed at, because these figure skaters are better skaters than we are.”

The Stayner Club, one of the chosen ones, had to get busy, right away. They had already done three seasons of Mini Blades. Every year, they’d bring in Santa Claus as one of the judges, because the event was always held a week or two before Christmas. The interest in the show grew to the point that it became the club’s second biggest money-maker, next to the carnival at the end of March.

And this year, the Stayner show attracted more male hockey players than the club had girls to skate with them. “I think it’s something different, and they have a lot of fun with it,” Trott said.
But the Stayner Club wasn’t to get ice time until October 16, and their Mini Blades show was to take place on October 30. Santa Claus was voted off the show. Instead, they had a town councillor, a hockey player and a figure skating rep offer up their expertise on the judging panel.

The club made a presentation to town council, asking it to give them free ice time to decorate the rink for the October 30 show. Given that ice rental goes for $130 an hour, it was a $900 gift. Twice a week, the Minis skated before school to train – starting at 7 a.m. and again during an afternoon on another day. The club made at least $2,000 from the October 30 show, about $500 more than usual. The stands (maximum 500) filled up. There was a buzz in the town.

Meanwhile, Reidl and Martell teamed up to become a formidable duo. They had been best friends since kindergarten. “I needed a partner and he needed to show up his brother,” Reidl said. “So it was good.”

Martell’s older brother, Cody, had skated in the show last year. So had Reidl’s older sister, Kirsten.

But it wasn’t an easy job to move from concept to champion. “When they went out on the ice together, they were horrible,” said Raylene Martell, mother of the hockey player. “I thought: ‘Oh my god,’ this is not going to be good.’ Nothing gelled with them. I thought: ‘What did we do?’”

“He skated like an absolute hockey player and she skated like an absolute figure skater,” said Dorothy-Jo Reidl, mother of Georgie. “We had to bring it together.”

The mothers worked as choreographers, pulling out elements from the television show that they thought their kids could do.

“I did a Mohawk,” said Martell. “I don’t know the names of the other things.”

Reidl was more than happy to fill in. “We did spirals and a waltz jump,” she said.

Martell’s toque became an issue. Georgie and her mother nixed the idea of him wearing it. Then Georgie’s coach strode by one day and said: “Nice hat. You’re wearing it, right?”

Martell got to keep the hat. “You can’t say no to your skating coach,” Reidl conceded.

Martell did refuse to don skates with toe picks. It was non-negotiable. Next year, they’ll have three months to prepare, and Reidl maintains that next year, they will swap skates. Easy for her to say: she’s played hockey before.

Best of all, entire communities became involved with the Mini Blade miracle. Everybody weighed in on the national vote. The Martells actually live in Dundalk, a town about half an hour away, and they are originally from Cape Breton, so the Nova Scotians stepped up in the voting as well. Every single child in both schools in Dundalk got to vote. The principals made sure of it. Martell’s school held an “emergency assembly” to show the clips of the team’s skates and congratulate them on their win.

To top it off, eventual Battle of the Blades winners Amanda Evora and Scott Thornton (a native of nearby Collingwood, Ont.) showed up for the October 30 show in Stayner. Thornton – who Martell looks up to literally and figuratively – told them he was thrilled that skaters were going outside of their comfort zone and trying new things. “It’s really about fun,” he said.

Beverley Smith

Dr. Jane Moran continues to blaze trails for Canada

There she goes again, blazing trails. It’s Dr. Jane Moran, and this time, she’s just been appointed to the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission’s Games Group as its winter sport representative.

She’s already known as the chairperson of the International Skating Union’s Medical Commission, an emergency room physician, a sports medicine doctor, a former member of the board of directors for Skate Canada (1999 to 2009), and a veteran doctor of six Olympic Winter Games: Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin, and Vancouver (and in another few months, Sochi, too). Not to mention that Dr. Jane was also the physician for the 2010 Torch Relay run across Canada where she was guarder of the flame, confidant to the masses, patcher and healer of lacerations and head bumps and all sorts of folk with tears in their eyes.

That’s Dr. Jane Moran in a nutshell. Who could have guessed that this woman from small-town Ontario could ascend to the highest annals of sport in her profession? Well yes, you could have.  As number 5 in a family of eight children (two girls, six boys), Moran frequented a rink right across the street from the family home in Walkerton, Ont. Her father, Joe, was a businessman there (Moran’s Farm Equipment), a mayor of the town for a time, and a lover of sport. In the midst of all this, Moran forged her own way.

Her father’s coaching philosophy centred on the idea, perhaps outrageous at the time, that good skaters made good hockey players. So all eight children took skating lessons at that little community rink. Moran’s sister, Mary Jo, the youngest of the eight, was an ice dancer at one point during the era of Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall. But Moran and all of her six brothers played hockey. “I was not at all graceful enough to be a figure skater,” said Moran on the eve of leaving for a WADA conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I was actually a much better hockey player.”

Consider that this was back in the early 1960s. There were no girls’ teams then. Moran played on a boys’ team until she was 10. She was set to go to a competition in Brampton, Ont., but held at home by mother Marie, who didn’t want her to go. Her oldest brother was coach of the team, and when he made it to Brampton with his Bruce County boys, he phoned home: “You’ve got to send her,” he told his mother. “They’ve all heard that she plays and everyone has been waiting to see this girl that plays hockey.”

So she did. Off she went, with her ponytail hanging out of her helmet, and mixed it up with players like Mark Howe, son of Gordie Howe. She was the only girl at the tournament amid “999 boys,” she said. This was well before the days of Justine Blainey, who won a spot on a boy’s team in the Metro Toronto Hockey League back in 1981 but was refused play because the league didn’t allow female players. Even the Ontario Human Rights Code at the time allowed sexual discrimination in sports.  Many years of court cases followed. Blainey was a cause celebre because of what was denied her. Moran was a curiosity, welcomed.

Years later, Moran played hockey at university, where she first studied physical education, then switched to physiotherapy, a profession that led her to the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

She was about to be interviewed to work as a physiotherapist for the Canadian ski team, when she switched gears, realizing that she wanted more. She went to medical school to become an emergency room physician, and then also did a sports medicine fellowship in the second year such a diploma was offered.

Then she found herself back in rinks, a place that feels like home to her. As chair of the ISU Medical Commission, she tracks injuries that are becoming more common in figure skating and the two branches of speed skating as rules change, new technology develops and in the case of figure skating, scoring changes that demand ever more of athletes. Moran said the ISU is trying to track injuries, so see how they are changing because of the scoring system.

Moran has had many remarkable experiences but her most memorable Olympic moments were off the playing field: the 106 days she spent as doctor for the Vancouver Olympic torch relay.  “It was an incredible journey,” she said. “One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.”

She left her Victoria home October 28 and didn’t return until March 1. She left a suitcase in Vancouver with her sister, and then lived out of a duffle bag for the duration of the relay. She spent every night in a different hotel. She took care of 300 people who were sleep deprived and pushed to the max every day while moving across Canada in the middle of winter. None of them got sick.

She wasn’t just the doctor. She took care of the torches, the lanterns. She rode in the media car. She ran every day, wearing out three pairs of running shoes. She got by on three or four hours of sleep. She met the people that make up Canada, from coast to coast. “Every day was like Christmas,” she said. “I never felt tired. It was stimulating.”

She met a gentleman once who declared that the two most important things in his life were his service to his country in the war and carrying the torch. “Every day was like that,” she said.

She met a woman “bawling her eyes out” at 100 Mile House in British Columbia, who had only seen torch relays on television. “Nothing ever comes to this town,” she said. “Thank you for bringing the torch to us.”

While this magical travelling expedition took place, it seemed as if the rest of the world didn’t exist. Moran sang “O Canada” so many times, she’s lost count. She tried once, noting that she customarily sang it five times before noon.

But the experience left its mark on Moran, perhaps forever. She can no longer sing “O Canada’ without tears welling up in her eyes. And four years after the fact, just the telling of it leaves her misty.

This, she carries with her wherever she goes.

Beverley Smith

Canadian Figure Skaters Travel to Russia for Final Stop on ISU Grand Prix Circuit

OTTAWA, ON: Canada will send six athletes to Moscow, Russia, for the 2013 Rostelecom Cup. The event, which is the sixth and final stop on the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit, will take place from November 22-24, 2013. Canada will have a total of three entries in two disciplines: one in pair, and two in ice dance.

Kirsten Moore-Towers, 21, St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch, 29, Toronto, Ont., are the Canadian pair entry. This will be their first time competing at this event. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch won silver at their first ISU Grand Prix assignment this season, Skate America, and won gold at the 2013 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic. Last season, they placed fourth at the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch train with Kris Wirtz and Kristy Wirtz at the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club.

Kaitlyn Weaver, 24, Waterloo, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 26, Waterloo, Ont., will represent Canada in ice dance. This will be their second time competing at this event, having won silver in 2011. The dance duo representing Sault FSC and Kitchener-Waterloo SC won silver at both events they have competed at this season, Skate Canada International and the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic. Last season, Weaver and Poje placed fifth at the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. They are coached by Pasquale Camerlengo and Angelika Krylova in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Piper Gilles, 21, Toronto, Ont., and Paul Poirier, 22, Unionville, Ont., will also represent Canada in ice dance. This will be their first time competing at this event. Gilles and Poirier earned a fifth place finish at their first ISU Grand Prix assignment this season, NHK Trophy. Representing Scarboro FSC, the 2013 Canadian silver medallists placed fourth at Skate Canada International and sixth at Trophée Eric Bompard last season. Gilles and Poirier are coached by Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs at Ice Dance Elite in Scarborough, Ont.

Cynthia Ullmark of Canmore, Alta., will be the Canadian team leader at the event. Dr. Ed Pilat of Winnipeg, Man., and physiotherapist Shirley Kushner of Westmount, Que., will be the Canadian medical staff onsite. Leslie Keen of Vancouver, B.C., and Andrea Derby of Windsor, Ont., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

Skate Canada supports today’s launch of Active at School

TORONTO, November 18, 2013 – Canada’s most influential sport, wellness and health organizations today offered unprecedented support to Canada’s provincial and territorial governments in order to inject an hour of daily physical activity into Canada’s schools. The group of more than 60 private sector and not-for-profit organizations offered to share responsibility to get Canada’s kids active at school – representing a historical and unrivaled movement to solve the overwhelming problem of inactive youth in Canada.

The “ACTIVE AT SCHOOL” initiative announced today represents a multi-year movement by the organizations involved to work with governments and offer access to their considerable networks, resources, investments and marketing efforts to reverse the staggering trend of inactivity amongst millions of Canadian children and youth.

The group initiated meetings with governments over the past two months and will seek meetings with Premiers, Education and Health Ministers from all governments in the next 90 days to detail the breadth of what the group is offering to make an hour a day of activity in schools a reality.

The Problem

Canada’s children and youth are more inactive today than at any time in our country’s history – a fact articulated by numerous studiesi and clearly recognized by Canada’s concerned parents. A surveyii of more than 5,000 households has shown that 88 per cent of Canadian families know that being active is
the right thing to do but have difficulty doing it, citing a lack of time, safety and financial resources as barriers to greater activity. The same study showed that more than 85 per cent of Canadians agree that schools should have daily physical activity for all students.

Increasing levels of physical activity among young people has been shown in study after study to:

  • improve health outcomes
  • increase confidence and self-esteem
  • provide life lessons, help with goal setting and build teamwork; and
  • improve concentration and academic performance.

Schools represent a safe and structured environment where all students, regardless of background or means, have the opportunity to succeed. Canada’s school system, however, is facing extraordinary pressures and competing priorities.

Quotes from Leading Members of the Group and Supportive Voices

“We must help our children be more active at school but we must also help our schools and teachers who are doing great work with the resources they have,” said Stephen Wetmore, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Tire Corporation. “We rely on our schools and teachers to do so much. Those companies and organizations that have the resources and tools to help our school system get our kids more active need to step forward and make a difference.”

“We’re going to reach out to sit down with every Premier and Minister of Education in the next 90 days to identify ways we can inject more activity into schools,” continued Wetmore. “We will learn about the barriers that are unique to each region – and we’re going to offer the resources of this incredibly powerful group to help overcome those barriers.”

“I always find it strange that we are looking for that secret sauce that makes our kids smarter, happier and gives them better self-esteem. Well, we’ve got it – it’s called exercise,” said Dr. Mike Evans, Staff Physician at St. Michael’s Hospital. “It is great when kids are active outside of school, and many are, but just like adults if we want to change behaviour we need to think about their daily habits and make it as easy as possible for new habits to be formed.”

“We’ve been focused on getting our young people access to daily physical education for over 80 years,” stated Chris Jones, Executive Director and CEO of Physical & Health Education Canada. “We are excited to be a part of ACTIVE AT SCHOOL– working with partners to help raise awareness on the need for quality daily physical education programming for all kids across Canada.”

“The passion for hockey, and the joy of playing it, has been passed through generations of Canadian youngsters,” said Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League. “To help build the next generation of hockey players, we need to ensure that Canadian students get ACTIVE AT SCHOOL and receive the amount of physical activity they require. We are proud to be part of this outstanding initiative.”

“We’ve made major strides in helping children enjoy healthier lifestyles, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that all kids are physically active,” said Pierre Lavoie, co-founder of the Le Grand défi Pierre Lavoie. “Bringing together private, public and not-for-profit partners is part of the solution and we are excited that ACTIVE AT SCHOOL is helping to focus attention on such a critical issue for our youth.”

More than 60 partners have rallied together to support an hour a day of activity at school. Inevitably more partners will join the movement in the coming months. Partners of the movement today include:

  • 60 Minute Kids’ Club
  • Active For Live
  • Active Healthy Kids Canada
  • Alpine Canada Alpin
  • Atmosphere
  • Bell Canada
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
  • Calgary Flames
  • Canada Games
  • Canada Snowboard
  • Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity
  • Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Canadian Chiropractic Association
  • Canadian Football League (CFL)
  • Canadian Interuniversity Sport
  • Canadian Medical Association
  • Canadian Nurses Association
  • Canadian Olympic Committee
  • Canadian Paralympic Committee
  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association
  • Canadian Public Health Association
  • Canadian Soccer Association
  • Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L)
  • Canadian Tire Corporation
  • Canadian Tire Dealers Association
  • Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities
  • Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
  • CBC Sports
  • Clean Air Champions
  • Hockey Canada
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By working together, ACTIVE AT SCHOOL will raise awareness of the issue and the solution, as well as work with governments, school boards and industry partners to determine how best to achieve one hour a day of quality physical activity. ACTIVE AT SCHOOL partners expect to be making additional announcements in the days, weeks and months to come related to campaign successes and progress.

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ACTIVE AT SCHOOL is a group of private, public and not-for-profit organizations committed to ensuring that one hour a day of quality physical activity and education is brought back to schools across Canada. With a goal of helping to reverse the trend of inactivity in Canadian kids and youth, the organization is focused on using its varied voices to keep the issue top of mind.

Patrick Chan wins gold, set world records at ISU Grand Prix

PARIS – World champion Patrick Chan capped a super weekend for Canadian figure skaters on Saturday with a gold medal and world record performances in men’s singles at the Eric-Bompard Trophy ISU Grand Prix figure skating competition.

Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir added ice dance gold and Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., took silver in pairs.

Chan totalled 295.27 points to smash his previous world mark of 280.98 points set at the 2011 world championships in Moscow. He also bettered his free program world record score from Moscow to 196.75 from the 187.96. Friday’s short program total was also a world’s best.

‘’This is a special day,’’ said Chan. ‘’It’s the first time in a long time I`ve skated two strong programs at one competition. I felt in control of every moment and each element. I`m going to remember how I approached both programs.

The 22-year-old from Toronto nailed his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop, his quad toeloop and his triple axel jumps. The French crowd gave him a rousing ovation for his performance which included music from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

‘’I know exactly why the way I skated. I paced myself properly to get through the whole program and through all the elements. That’s where I improved.’’

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan was second at 263.59 and Jason Brown of the U.S., third at 243.09.

In ice dancing, Virtue and Moir were the victors with 180.96 ranking first in both the short dance and free dance. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia were second at 171.89 and Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France third at 171.08.

‘’We felt like it was a strong skate,’’ said Moir. ‘’There were some great moments and it was a better skate than at Skate Canada especially the ending.  Still we left some points out there. Technically we can’t afford to do those little mistakes.’’

Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., were eighth.

In pairs, Olympic silver medallists Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China won the gold with 193.86 points edging Duhamel and Radford in second at 190.89. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin of the U.S., were third at 184.01.

The result also puts Duhamel and Radford in good position to make the Grand Prix Final.

“I was proud of that performance,” said Radford. “There’s a lot of pressure. It’s an Olympic season and we wanted to make the Grand Prix Final to keep our name out there heading into the second half of the season. That’s what was on the line today.”

After a wobbly Skate Canada three weeks ago, Duhamel said the couple put pressure on themselves to execute clean programs every day in training. The preparation eventually paid off even though they didn’t produced a clean skate Saturday.

“We weren’t able to deliver the program that we’ve been doing in training but we fought,” said Duhamel. “We knew we needed to come here and get at least second to advance to the Grand Prix Final. There was a lot of pressure and nothing was easy..”

Natasha Purich of Sherwood Park, Alta., and Mervin Tran of Regina were sixth.

In women’s competition, Amélie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was sixth.

Big scores for Chan, Virtue/Moir at ISU Grand Prix

PARIS – World champion Patrick Chan of Toronto broke his world record score in Friday’s short program to stand first in men’s competition at the Trophee Eric Bompard ISU Grand Prix figure skating competition.

Later on, Olympic champions Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., posted a personal best score for their short dance to grab an early lead as well.

Chan totalled 98.52 points which bettered his previous world best of 98.37 set at the world championships last March. He also improved his score by more than 10 points from last month’s Skate Canada.  The main difference was successfully landing his quad-triple toe jump on Friday.

“I wasn’t feeling completely at my best but I put in the work and the training,” said Chan. “When you do that it allows you to deliver a solid performance like this.  I didn’t expect that kind of score this early in the season but it doesn”t change my mentality or my approach for the rest of the year.”

Yazuru Hanyu of Japan is second at 95.37 and Jason Brown of the U.S., third at 84.77.

In ice dancing, Virtue and Moir earned 75.31 to eclipse their previous best of 75.12 set the Four Continents Championships last season.  Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France are second at 70.59 and Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia are third at 69.07.

At Skate Canada, Virtue and Moir had difficulty with their twizzles and have revamped the short program over the past three weeks in training.

“We moved the twizzles to earlier in the program,” said Virtue.  “It was a bit risky to put it at the end.  Overall the layout of the program is a whole lot better and we have a lot more speed at the end of the program.”

Moir said the changes were beneficial.

“It puts more pressure when you change things around but it has taken us one step higher,” he said.  “It’s normal to tinker with it especially in preparation for the Olympics.  The short program is all about execution and it’s those four required elements that we worry about the most.”

Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C.,  and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., are eighth.

In pairs, Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China lead with 67.69 points.  World championship bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., stand second at 66.07 and Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia are third at 65.67.

Natasha Purich of Sherwood Park, Alta., and Mervin Tran of Regina are sixth at 55.89.

Amélie Lacoste of Delson, Que., is seventh after the women’s short program.

Skate Canada congratulates Dr. Jane Moran on IOC appointment

OTTAWA, ON: Dr. Jane Moran of Victoria, B.C. was recently appointed to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Medical Commission’s Games Group.  The long-time chair of the International Skating Union’s (ISU) Medical Commission was chosen as the representative of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations.

“Dr. Moran is a true advocate for the well-being of athletes. She is an outstanding medical professional, whose advice and counsel has been instrumental in developing the ISU’s medical protocols to the highest standards,” said Leanna Caron, President, Skate Canada. “We are pleased to see her dedication to sport being recognized with this well-deserved appointment.”

Moran first became involved with figure skating, when she was assigned to the sport as a member of the Canadian medical team in 1992 for the Albertville Olympic Winter Games.  She was then appointed to the ISU Medical Commission as a member in 1993, and became its chair in 1999, a position she still holds. As an ISU official, she was a member of the Skate Canada board for several years.

“I’m honoured to be appointed by the Winter Sports Federations to this position, and to continue to be able to work on behalf of the athletes in this role,” said Dr. Moran.

An emergency room and sport medicine physician in Victoria, B.C., Dr. Moran is also an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine.  She also travels four times each year to provide medical services to remote clinics in Nunavut.

The Medical Commission’s Games Group role is a vital one to ensure excellence across a number of areas. Dr. Moran will help oversee the provision of medical care and anti- doping services approved for the Games. She will also be a resource to other medical personnel on site, through the International Federations, in the areas of education, prevention of injury and research.