Team Canada ready to compete at ISU World Team Trophy in Japan

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will send an eight member team to the 2015 ISU World Team Trophy taking place for the fourth time Tokyo, Japan from April 15-19. The team will consist of two entries in ladies and men’s, and one entry in pair and ice dance.

The countries ranked one to six on the ISU team standings qualify for the event. This year the six-country competition will include teams from Russia, USA, Japan, Canada, France, and China. Skaters compete in their disciplines with short programs/dance and free skates/dance. After the results, they receive placement points, which are then added together and the team with the highest points total will win the title. Teams will compete for a total of $1 million USD in prize money.

Canada has medal at all three previous events, winning silver at the inaugural event in 2009, bronze in 2012 and silver in 2013.

Leading the Canadian team are 2015 World Pair Champions Meagan Duhamel, 29, Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford, 30, Balmertown, Ont. They competed at this event both in 2012 and 2013. Duhamel will also act as the captain for Team Canada. The representatives of Walden FSC and CPA Saint-Léonard are coached by Richard Gauthier, Bruno Marcotte, and Sylvie Fullum at CPA Saint-Léonard.

The Canadian ice dance entry will be 2015 world ice dance bronze medallists Kaitlyn Weaver, 26, Waterloo, Ont., and Andrew Poje, 28, Waterloo, Ont. This will be their second trip to this event, having won silver in 2013. Weaver and Poje represent the Sault FSC and Kitchener-Waterloo SC and are coached by Pasquale Camerlengo and Angelika Krylova in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Canadian champion Nam Nguyen, 16, Toronto, Ont., is the first of two Canadian entries in men’s. Nguyen will make his debut at this event following a fifth place finish at the world championships. He is coached by Brian Orser and Ernest Pryhitka at the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club.

Canadian silver medalists Jeremy Ten, 26, Vancouver, B.C., will compete at the ISU World Team Trophy for the first time. Ten represents the Grandview Skating Club and is coached by Joanne McLeod and Neil Wilson at the Champs International Skating Centre.

In ladies, Gabrielle Daleman, 17, Newmarket, Ont., will make her second trip to this event after winning silver in 2013. The Canadian champion is a representative of Richmond Hill FSC. She is coached by Andrei Berezintsev and Inga Zusev and trains at the Richmond Training Centre in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Canadian silver medallist Alaine Chartrand, 19, Prescott, Ont., will be Canada’s second entry in the ladies category. This will be her first time competing at this event. Chartrand is coached by Michelle Leigh and Brian Orser and represents the Nepean Skating Club.

The team leader for the event will be Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk. Physiotherapist Shirley Kushner of Westmount, Que., will be the Canadian medical personnel onsite. Leslie Keen of Vancouver, B.C., and Andrea Derby of Windsor, Ont., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

For results and full entries please visit


Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Nam Nguyen 16 Toronto, Ont. Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club Brian Orser / Ernest Pryhitka
Mens Jeremy Ten 26 Vancouver, B.C. Grandview SC Joanne McLeod / Neil Wilson
Ladies Gabrielle Daleman 17 Newmarket, Ont. Richmond Hill FSC Andrei Berezintsev / Inga Zusev
Ladies Alaine Chartrand 19 Prescott, Ont. Nepean Skating Club Michelle Leigh
Pairs Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford 29/30 Lively, Ont. / Balmertown, Ont. Walden FSC / CPA Saint-Léonard Richard Gauthier / Bruno Marcotte / Sylvie Fullum
Ice Dance Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje 26/28 Waterloo, Ont. / Waterloo, Ont. Sault FSC / Kitchener-Waterloo SC Pasquale Camerlengo / Angelika Krylova

Canadore College Students Skate for the First Time

Many skating clubs across Canada are incredibly successful and boast of ever increasing enrollment. Others are facing huge operational challenges. Costs are rising dramatically while membership in some areas is dropping due to competition from other activities and a changing demographic. Even the limited pool of dedicated volunteers is shrinking.

Some clubs like the North Bay Figure Skating Club in Northern Ontario have resorted to developing fundraising initiatives to help defray some of their costs. While the old tried and true fund-raising events have proven to be moderately successful in the past, with dwindling resources and opportunities, this season the club realized it had to get creative and find a fresh new approach to ease the bottom line.

But how?

The club already had history with Canadore College, North Bay’s College of Applied Arts and Technology, when students from the Marketing and Advertising Program helped develop the club’s marketing plans to recruit new members and promote the club to the community. One day during a chance conversation at the rink between a CanSkate parent and the club’s CanSkate Coordinator, the discussion focused on involving the college once again, this time by attracting its international students through some kind of learn-to-skate program.


With the College’s significant international student body, many of whom have never seen ice and snow, the idea of collaborating with the club to create a pilot learn-to-skate program could offer students a brand new Canadian experience.

Fraser Mowat, the College’s International Officer, was quick to see the benefits. “Skating is a slippery experience for all of us and if you have never skated before, the whole experience can be frightening. By using the expertise of the local skating club, the students would gain the ability to challenge the ice and learn from the best.”

North Bay Figure Skating Club President David Villeneuve, also a professor at the college, knew the idea was a perfect fit. “I pursued this partnership and although it took a lot of discussion, we managed to work out some shared ice time with our Preschool program. We knew it would be challenging for the Club and certainly for the coaches that had to deliver the program, but the concept was new, innovative and exciting.”

Once the College was on board, the club moved fast. The idea took root in October with a goal to have the program operating by December. With only two months to figure out the details, planning went into overdrive.

Number one consideration was to create a reasonable environment for these adult skaters. “We decided to split a portion of our Preschool ice,” said David, “so the college-age skaters wouldn’t feel too self-conscious.”

Skating student gets help tying skates.

Photo: PJ Wilson

Another challenge faced was encouraging participants to recognize the need for good equipment. Although Canadore College and the International Department provided skates and helmets, some skaters came with their own skates that had been bought online or from friends … very poor quality, no ankle support and blades so dull, they couldn’t cut through butter.

Designing the actual on-ice program was another exercise in creativity. With coaches and the club working together, it was decided that each student group would have three 45-minute sessions.

Coach Cara Song realized there might be other special circumstances in designing the program. “Considering possible language barriers and differing skating capabilities, running a laid back program that centered on the skaters’ needs and concentrated on the basics seemed to be the best approach.”

The coaches looked forward to every new group of students. “The very first day was so exciting”, admitted Cara. “Initially there were 23 students registered for the first session, and because for most of them it was their first time taking public transit to the rink, they all came staggering in late. We had set up signs all around the arena and were anxiously waiting to meet everyone.”

Standing rink side, David will never forget watching students take those first tentative steps on the ice. “Everyone was clinging to the boards! But with the help and encouragement of our coaches and PA’s the new skaters had an incredible first day. They enjoyed themselves to the point that they were taking selfies and group pictures in their equipment to post on Facebook for family and friends back home.”

Cara agreed. “Everyone was so excited and eager to be there. We had students from all around the world … Asia, Europe, South America. With the exception of a couple of people, most had never ice skated before. There were a few that really picked it up naturally; a handful that relied on skills they had from other sports, like rollerblading; and about half the group that started the session clinging to the boards.”

Language never seemed to be a problem for CanSkate Senior Program Assistant Callie O’Connor. “A couple of times I found myself having to demonstrate and visually show them what to do instead of simply saying it, but obviously over time, they understood clearly.”

One of the first students was Breno da Nobrega Bezerra from Natal, Brazil. “I was excited wondering how it would be and I was a little scared of skating. I had tried do it one time before in Ottawa but I didn’t have the right equipment and I didn’t know how to do it, so I was very happy when some friends talked to me about the skating class.”

“Each class I could improve a little and learn some new things. The instructors helped me to gain confidence, so in the end of skating lessons I had enough confidence to play on ice. It was a great moment for me. I will never forget that!” – Breno da Nobrega Bezerra

For Coach Cara, it was an incredible program in which to be involved. “When you’re working with teens or adults in CanSkate or learn to skate programs, I find there’s a unique passion among the skaters. They all genuinely want to be there. With these international students, their excitement was contagious, and I found myself appreciating the sport more after experiencing it through their fresh eyes.”

Canadore College student learns to skate.

Photo: PJ Wilson

The end results have been inspiring for everyone.

From Canadore’s perspective, Fraser Mowat acknowledged how much all of the students loved the experience and considered it a highlight of their time living in North Bay. “Most of them wanted to go back for more lessons. A few of the students have borrowed skates and gone on their own after finishing their classes.”

Breno is one of them. “Each class I could improve a little and learn some new things. The instructors helped me to gain confidence, so in the end of skating lessons I had enough confidence to play on ice. It was a great moment for me. I will never forget that!”

Cheryl Maltby, another member of the coaching team, was thrilled by the students’ reactions, “On the last day some of the skaters were saying to me that they were going to continue with their skating as much as possible in their home country.”

From the club’s perspective, it’s been a huge win for the community and for the club’s budget. “This has given us the opportunity to build a new community connection with Canadore College” said David. “Since I bridge both of these organizations, I can see how this project could allow us to create connections with other educational and cultural institutions that will allow us to give these programs some additional ice time and coaching. We have tapped into a new population and clientele that we had not thought of before. Canada itself is a nation of immigrants looking for new opportunities, perhaps this could be one of them.”

For other clubs inspired by the North Bay club’s story, David has some sage advice. “Start early. Talk to International Student departments in post-secondary institutions, to local high schools with foreign exchange students and to community multicultural agencies. They’re always looking for unique experiences. Someone is always willing to try if the opportunity is provided.”

If you’re interested in learning to skate, joining a Skate Canada club is easy. There are 1400 clubs across the country for you to choose from … all of them with certified coaching and nationally recognized programming.

To find the club nearest you, check out our clubfinder and embrace the joy of skating.

And finally … congratulations to North Bay Figure Skating Club for developing more skaters for life!

Canada’s Nexxice crowned world champion in synchronized skating

HAMILTON – Nexxice from Burlington, Ont., won the gold medal for Canada on Saturday at the 20-country ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships held before an impressive and patriotic crowd of 7,600 at the FirstOntario Centre.

It is Canada’s first world crown since 2009 when Nexxice also took gold.

The top-seeded Canadian team finished with 214.73 points performing to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Finland won the free skate but added to their short program score Friday it wasn’t enough to catch the Canadians as they totalled 214.06. Russia won the bronze medal at 203.48.

Skating for Nexxice were Shannon Aikman-Jones, Maria Albanese, Ellicia Beaudoin, Emma Bonafiglia, Kelly Britten, Courtney Broadhurst, Lee Chandler, Alessia Chiovitti, Carla Coveart, Samantha Defino, Courtney Gray, Yu Hanamoto, Renata Khuzina, Victoria Kwan, Kristen Loritz, Nichole Manahan, Kerrin Caitlin McKinnon, Victoria Smith, Kiersten Tietz and Gillian Tyler.

‘’I don’t think it has sunk in that we are world champions,’’ said Lee Chandler. ‘’It was just a surreal experience with the crowd. In the end they really lifted us. This is a program we have been practicing since September and the girls came together today and performed it better than ever.’’

The second Canadian entry, les Suprêmes, from St-Léonard, Que., produced the fourth best free program to climb from seventh to sixth overall.

Skating for Les Suprêmes were: Elodie Marie Acheron, Audrey Bédard, Jessica Bernardo, Lou-Ann Bezeau-Tremblay, Joannie Brazeau, Sara Irma Corona, Alexandra Del Vecchio, Laurie Désilets, Jacqueline Hampshire, Maria-Victoria Langon, Clémence Léa Marduel, Agathe Sigrid Merlier, An-Kim Nguyen, Minh-Thu Tina Nguyen, Anne-Louise Normand, Geneviève Rougeau, Marina Rousseau, Laurra Olivia Sena, Claudia Sforzin and Yasuko Uchida.

‘’It was incredible, the crowd showed us so much love,’’ said Laura Désilets. ‘’We didn’t feel any added pressure being in Canada. We were really pleased with both our programs and we achieved our goals for this season.’’

This was the third time Canada has hosted the event in its 16 year history. Canada has now reached the podium in 11 of those 16 years.

Full results: 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships

Synchro’s 2018 Olympic Dream

Although it’s generally recognized that Synchronized Skating got its start in the United States, it wasn’t long before Canada hopped on board too. Now the sport is promoted around the world with 20 countries represented at this year’s ISU World Championships hosted by Canada this month in Hamilton, Ontario.

Making history has always been a significant part of the sport’s motivation. And now, after more than 20 years of work by the ISU Synchronized Skating Technical Committees (SySTC) and participants in the sport, there’s a glow around Synchro (SyS) that is definitely of Olympic proportion.

Canada’s Cathy Dalton, an internationally acclaimed Synchro coach and expert, has been involved in the sport from its beginning.

“Being in the Olympic Games was a dream at first,” admits Cathy, “but with all the chairmen of the SyS Technical Committee working tirelessly towards this Olympic goal, Marie Lundmark (Finland), Leon Lurje (Sweden), Uli Linder (Switzerland) and Chris Buchanan (Great Britain), we all became huge believers that Synchro had a place in the Olympic Games.”

Finland’s Marie Lundmark is the current Chair of the SySTC. “I was on the SySTC from the beginning in 1994 when our first goal was to build the sport to hold the Synchronized Skating World Championships which we did in 2000 in Minneapolis. Of course, with that success, it opened the door to talk about the possibility of Synchro becoming an Olympic discipline.”

In the Committee’s initial 4-year plan, a strategy was developed that would prepare the sport for its ultimate event. One step along that path to the Olympics was to have SyS included in the FISU Winter Universiade, a milestone accomplished in 2007. As the sport‘s popularity surged around the world, work continued in collaboration with the ISU to establish standards, requirements, ages of skaters, composition for SyS teams, event structure … all the details that would help the sport align with other Olympic events.

There was much work to do on and off the ice. Behind the scenes and deep into the synchro community, the prime directive was to build credibility for the discipline by promoting quality skating skills.

As a coach, Cathy was front-line. “Decisions were made that would improve the athleticism of the skaters, improve their skating quality, increase the difficulty of the elements and also further coaching development.”

Then in April 2011, another major step was taken.

“There was a Synchronized Skating Working Group meeting,” reflects Marie, “where together with the Council figure skating members, the SySTC, Peter Krick, Chair Sports Directorate and Krisztina Regöczy, Figure Skating Sports Director, we discussed making a formal application to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by creating a proposal outlining the logistics of having SyS teams in the Games.“

It took three years of painstaking work when finally at the 2014 ISU Congress in Dublin, Ireland, the proposal was presented to the ISU and accepted by Congress. The next step undertaken by the ISU was to send an application to the IOC to have SyS recognized as an Olympic discipline with the goal to have it included in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

In July of 2014, in response, the ISU received an official acknowledgement from the IOC … with an accompanying application requesting detailed information about SyS, including questions about things like participant and event information, team composition, number of athletes, ticket sales, TV ratings and social media statistics.

Cathy was part of the application team. “It was hard work to find accurate statistics … but we did it! A brochure was developed for the IOC that summarized SyS and included wonderful photos, facts and videos.”

But the IOC’s investigation into SyS didn’t stop there.

In the summer of 2014, the IOC sent a team of observers to a top-notch SyS event, the French Cup, to report and make recommendations on the sport’s activities, the noisy and enthusiastic environment and the public’s response.

“The French Cup was a wonderful event for them to witness,” says Cathy. “The three people from the IOC were very astute and observant. They seemed to enjoy the event and liked many of the different teams and their routines. They took photos and video of the competition that would hopefully accompany their report to the IOC … and they certainly saw how the team sport of figure skating could bring a fresh new dynamic and new fans to the Olympic movement.”

Marie is optimistic that SyS fits beautifully into the Olympic model.

“The growth in popularity of this discipline among younger age groups with fans following their favorite teams has fuelled the rapid rise in popularity and participation among young people in the ISU Member federations spread over all five Continents. This sport showcases fast and dynamic, physically and technically demanding programs that have a very different appearance from the difficult performances shown in skating’s traditional disciplines.”

From the business side of the equation, Marie is quick to add, “Given the strong youth appeal of this sport and the strong social media following, we can see a tremendous upside in the development of branded content that has a strong base for sponsorship and for generating increased fan support.”

“The sport is ready!” boasts Cathy. “Many of the organizational details have been worked out for an Olympic event: schedule, location, doping, mix zone, accommodation and transportation. The teams are ready to go!”

For Marie Lundmark and many other SyS leaders and supporters, to receive IOC approval would be the final dramatic step in the sport’s evolution. “I think that from the beginning all who have been involved in Synchronized Skating (skaters, coaches, officials, and parents) have contributed to the development of this beautiful sport. We hope that our work and dreams will be appreciated.”

The IOC’s decision is pending.

Burlington’s Nexxice first after short program at ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships

HAMILTON – Crowd favorites Nexxice from nearby Burlington, Ont., brought the house down Friday night at the FirstOntario Centre producing the top short program at the 20-country ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships.

Approximately 6,700 fans attended the event.

Nexxice, Canada’s top-ranked entry at the event, earned 71.06 points and are ahead of Finland in second at 70.39 and Sweden in third at 69.94. Skating to “MUD” by The Road Hammers Nexxice earned two level fours and three level threes in their performance..

Skating for Nexxice are Shannon Aikman-Jones, Maria Albanese, Ellicia Beaudoin, Emma Bonafiglia, Kelly Britten, Courtney Broadhurst, Lee Chandler, Alessia Chiovitti, Carla Coveart, Samantha Defino, Courtney Gray, Yu Hanamoto, Renata Khuzina, Victoria Kwan, Kristen Loritz, Nichole Manahan, Kerrin Caitlin McKinnon, Victoria Smith, Kiersten Tietz and Gillian Tyler.

‘’It was just electric out there, the crowd was fantastic,’’ said team member Kristen Loritz. We felt the energy as we stepped on the ice and carried with us until the finishing pass. We practice with simulated crowd noise all week and that helped the girls relax.’’

Nexxice are the nine-time consecutive Canadian champions and the only North American team to win the world championships (2009). They’ve won silver at the last three worlds.

Canada’s second entry, les Suprêmes from St-Léonard, Que., are in seventh spot. Skating for Les Suprêmes are: Elodie Marie Acheron, Audrey Bédard, Jessica Bernardo, Lou-Ann Bezeau-Tremblay, Joannie Brazeau, Sara Irma Corona, Alexandra Del Vecchio, Laurie Désilets, Jacqueline Hampshire, Maria-Victoria Langon, Clémence Léa Marduel, Agathe Sigrid Merlier, An-Kim Nguyen, Minh-Thu Tina Nguyen, Anne-Louise Normand, Geneviève Rougeau, Marina Rousseau, Laurra Olivia Sena, Claudia Sforzin and Yasuko Uchida.

Les Suprêmes have been runners-up at the past five nationals and were sixth at worlds in 2014.

This is the third time Canada has hosted the event in its 16 year history, with Canada having won medals at 10 of those previous events.

Full results: 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships

World’s best teams in Hamilton for the 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: The top synchronized skating teams in the world will meet in Hamilton, Ont., this week for the 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships from April 10-11, at the FirstOntario Centre. Twenty-five teams from 20 ISU member nations will be competing for the world title.

Canada will send two teams; Nexxice, from the Burlington Skating Centre, and Les Suprêmes, from the CPA Saint-Léonard, who earned their entries to the world championships winning gold and silver respectively at 2015 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships earlier this season.

Representing the Burlington Skating Centre, Nexxice senior is the first Canadian entry. The nine-time consecutive Canadian champions are the only North American team to win the world championships, having done so in 2009. The three-time consecutive world silver medallists are coached by Shelley Simonton Barnett and Anne Schelter.

Canadian silver medallists Les Suprêmes, will be the second Canadian entry. Representing CPA Saint-Léonard, they are five-time consecutive Canadian silver medallists. Last year, Les Suprêmes placed sixth at this event. They are coached by Marilyn Langlois and Pascal Denis.

This will mark the third time Canada has hosted the event in its 16 year history, with Canada having won medals at 10 of those previous events.

Tickets are available and can be purchased online at, by phone at 1-855-985-5000, or in person at the FirstOntario Centre box office.

For results and full entries, please visit or

Calgary set to host 2015 Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: Four hundred fifty Canadian adult figure skaters will travel to Calgary, Alta., this week in preparation for the 2015 Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships. The event takes place from April 3-5, 2015, at the WinSport Canada Athletic and Ice Complex, located at Canada Olympic Park, and features adult skaters from across the country competing in four disciplines: free skate, interpretive, ice dance, and synchronized skating.

“The 2015 Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships will gather hundreds of Canadians from ages 18 to 75 who share an incredible bond in their passion for lifelong skating. Skaters and teams at this event have displayed hard work and dedication all season long in preparation for this weekend,” said Dan Thompson, CEO, Skate Canada. “We look forward to Calgary hosting these skaters and joining in the celebration of their success.”

New this year, Skate Canada will be offering two workshops on Thursday, April 2, focusing on the theme Active for Life: Keeping the Adult Body and Mind in Sync for Skating. Dr. William Bridel will present An Active Workshop on Physical Activity and Adult Skaters, and Sommer Christie will discuss Sharpening your Mental Edge.

This year will also see special guest Cassie Campbell-Pascall as the master of ceremonies at the event’s opening ceremony and meet and greet on Thursday evening. Captain of Canada’s national women’s hockey team from 2001-2006, Campbell-Pascall will share her experience in skating for life and keeping active in sport.

Admission for the 2015 Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships is free of charge. Live streaming will be available through Skate Canada’s Dailymotion page. For further information, please visit the Skate Canada 2015 Adult Figure Skating Championships page.

Skate Canada offers recreational, test, and competitive opportunities to adult skaters through our AdultSkate program. Programs available to adult skaters include CanSkate, STARSkate, CanPowerSkate, and SynchroSkate. To locate a club in your region that offers adult programming, please consult your Section office.

52-year-old skater to pursue gold at Nationals

For most Canadian children, learning to skate is considered a rite of passage.

That wasn’t the case for Jeffrey Morden from Fergus, Ontario. His passion for skating came much later.

“When I was in grade four my family moved out of Fergus to a farm just up Highway 6. When my parents went to work, we used to go into town to babysitters where school was within walking distance. Once in a while after school my sitter would put my skates on for me and I’d walk down the sidewalk, a block and a half, to the arena. I didn’t know you were supposed to wear guards!”

Although Jeffrey never took skating lessons as a child, other sporting experiences were becoming a part of his daily routine.

“My Dad trained and raced Standardbred horses and I helped him with that when I was growing up. When my cousin started riding, something I wanted to do too, I got riding lessons for my tenth birthday. I loved it so much that by the time I was in my teens I was competing in Junior, then in three day Eventing and finally twice at Canadian Pony Club Nationals.”

During high school and throughout his years as a competitive rider, Jeffrey was also heavily involved in music, concert Band, choir, school musicals and his favorite, as a member of a contemporary pop group called Surge. “Surge was a big deal at my school … Surge was like ABBA!”

Then in his grade twelve year, his school took on its first big production, Guy and Dolls. For Jeffrey it was a turning point.

“At that time I was still riding and taking an exam through Pony Club so I had no time to audition for the show.”

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t interested, in fact, he was feeling so left out that his voice teacher talked the director into giving him a last-minute audition. The director was hooked and immediately cast Jeffrey in the show that year, following up the next year with the role of Lawyer Louie Loser in Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang.

During his final year, as Jeffrey’s love for music and theatre continued to grow, he knew he was at a cross roads and had to make a big decision after graduation. Would he continue with riding or would he pursue his education?

“University won out,” admitted Jeffrey. “I ended up in the School of Dramatic Art at the University of Windsor starting out as a Costume and Set Design major.” But after one year, sensing that he had hidden talents that hadn’t yet been explored, he switched to Performance.

“I studied voice at the School of Music, acting at the School of Dramatic Art and dance at any studio in the city.”

Little did he know that another discipline, skating, was waiting in the wings.

jeffrey-morden-costume-design“When I was at university I was watching skating on television. There was something about it that struck a chord. Since there was a rink a couple of blocks from my apartment, I decided I’d give it a try. So I went to Goodwill and bought these antique skates, died them black and then got out the phone book to see where I could get them sharpened. When I took them to the figure skating shop, the people there just looked at them stunned … there was no way anyone could actually skate in them!”

And in true “Jeffrey” style, he started talking to the owner. “In exchange for a pair of used men’s skates, I offered to bead dresses and make design templates. That year I even beaded a dress for international pair skater Denise Benning!”

When Jeffrey finished school, Toronto was in his sights. “The first thing after getting settled was to find a skating club and a coach beginning at the West Toronto Figure Skating Club and then at Moss Park Skating Club. I studied dancing and figures, started testing and took my preliminary free skate about four months later … and I’m proud to say my program had two Axels in it.”

It was a great start for a 24-year old adult skater but then when Jeffrey began getting more work as a singer/dancer/actor, skating had to take a back seat to life. On the road and performing for years on stage and on cruise ships, he never forgot the joy of skating, often taking advantage of rehearsal time to keep up his skating muscle memory.

jeffrey-morden-stage-performance“You could always see me doing jumps off ice while in rehearsals, at the gym or warming up for a show. Occasionally I would sneak one into a number here or there. There was a lovely double loop in the Summertime adage during Birth of the Blues on one Holland America Cruise but for the most part that was it. I didn’t go public skating or guest skate anywhere during those years except on one occasion in Singapore when I tried to get to the rink but they were closed that day.”

Fast forward a few decades to 2011 and to the moment skating came back into Jeffrey’s life. “One day when I was teaching at a private school in Guelph, my friend Lisa said to me, ‘You know, they have adult competitions now.’ So I guess I can blame her for my passion to compete and test while in my fifties.”

And come back, he did, with a fierce determination to learn, become a judge, compete and share his performance expertise.

On the ice, Jeffrey continues to train for tests and competitions. He’s accomplished his goals of passing his Junior Bronze Dances, his Senior Bronze Freeskate and his Gold Artistic test. Competitively he’s been successful at Adult Nationals, last year finishing second in both the Men’s Gold Free Skate and the Men’s Bronze Interpretive. This year in Calgary, he’ll be back at Adult Nationals representing the Elora and District Skating Club and looking for the top spot on the podium.

As for sharing his performance knowledge, that part of his skating career is growing too. “I have always said that skaters are being judged on something they have no training in. I believe the fact that I am a skater and now a judge, combined with my years of performance training and experience, I believe I can bring many things to the table.”

jeffrey-morden-nutcraker-performanceCoaching skaters on theatrical understanding and impact has already given him some wonderful opportunities. “This summer will be my third year working in Toronto at Ice Dance Elite with Carol Lane. During the summer skaters come to Carol from all over the world so I’ve had the pleasure to work with teams from Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic as well as amazing junior and senior Canadian teams.”

Working off ice with competitors, teaching performance classes and helping to develop new appreciation for character and storylines convey Jeffrey’s admiration of a sport he calls a combination of athletics and artistry. He also feels in many ways the sport is a mirror of life.

“There is so much cross over here. Whether it’s time management, healthy living or obtaining a new skill, you really do use skills that you bring from the ice to your daily life.”

Jeffrey also emphasizes you don’t have to be young to skate.

“As you get older, it’s a great non-impact sport, develops greater balance and core strength, coordination, muscle toning, cardio… and that’s just from basic stroking. Add musicality by using your whole body to create shapes and suddenly you’re at a whole new level of activity.”

His attitude is infectious. “At the end of 12 or 13 hours of judging everyone is always saying ‘I need a drink’ and I’m always saying, ‘I just watched people skate all day, I want to go skate!’

“The problem though is that I sit there and watch and think, I’m only 52, I can still learn that.”

Calgary … Adult Nationals …get ready!