Thirty-five years and counting. That’s how long the Hope & District Figure Skating Club has been helping kids first learn to skate — then learn to skate even better.
This Saturday, the club will be celebrating a year of learning and thirty-five years of music, at their annual year-end carnival.
Club pro Michelle Inancsi says approximately 30 kids aged four to 14 have been spending the last month in preparation for the event, which is titled “Music, Music, Music.”
Inancsi says the song selections start at the disco era, with songs like Greased Lightning and Stayin’ Alive that were current when the club was in its infancy. Michael Jackson’s Thriller will also be featured, along with recent hits like Party Rock Anthem and Skyscraper.
“We’ll have 20 routines, including the guest skaters,” says Inancsi, who has done the choreography for the club skaters.
The coach says the music inspires her ideas — and she makes use of music videos found on the internet.
The internet has come in handy for costume acquisitions too, as there’s no longer a sewing machine in every household.
“Everyone except the preschool group has two numbers, which means two costumes,” says club registrar Lindsay Druet. “And not many of us sew anymore.
“Some costumes are ordered off the internet,” she adds. “There are so many great sites these days. Others are put together with a hope and a prayer and some are still sewn.
“The only rule is no feathers because they can come off and cause skaters to fall.
“Each group decides on what their costumes are going to look like and they create from there,” says Druet. “So far I’m guessing the zombie costumes for Thriller may be the most challenging, because at this time of year zombie-themed items are hard to find.”
“A difference from the [distant] past would be that helmets are required at all times, unless you are a junior skater,” says Druet. “Sometimes it’s difficult to be inspired on how to cover all those helmets.”
The club’s junior skaters: Sarah Isbister, Sadie Eden, Sarah Ouimet and Sophie Enns will be featured in solo performances, while the younger skaters will work in groups.
“Decorations will go up on Saturday morning,” says Inancsi, who is thankful of her large group of parent volunteers. “We’ll have four spotlights and a disco ball as well.”
The coach credits club director Peter Lang with bringing in four guest skaters. “Peter works closely with Skate Canada, so he has lots of contacts,” says Inancsi.
Lang’s wife Linda has served as club pro in Hope in past years and Peter has a long history in skating.
“I went to my first Canadians in Moncton in 1985,” said Lang on Monday. “Now I’m doing video camera work for them, for instant replay for the judges.
“This year, I wanted to bring in five skaters for the show, rather than one or two, to show different aspects of figure skating,” said Lang.
“We’ll have Tyler Miller from Abbotsford. He skated here last year,” said Lang. “He was second at the provincial championships, eighth at the Western Challenge and thirteenth at the 2012 National Championships. Krista Milne is a Special Olympics skater from North Surrey. She competed for one of four spots on Team BC and earned her way to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to represent B.C. at the Canadian Winter Games.”
Ice dancers Jessica Jang and Nikolas Wamsteeker will present the couples aspect of skating. They train in Burnaby and have attained a high level of acclaim. They were the 2011 pre-novince national champions, the 2011 Canada Games pre-novice champs and the 2012 B.C. novice champs.
“They missed out on the National Championships after Nikolas broke his collarbone in practice,” said Lang. “The ice show in Hope will likely be their first public performance since the injury.”
Eleven-year-old Sarah Steberl of Hope will also be a featured guest.
“Sarah began skating here at the Hope & District Figure Skating Club when she was four years old,” said Lang. “Presently she is skating with the Abbotsford Skating Club. She trains on ice four days a week in Abbotsford and one or two days a week in Hope.
“Sarah also does off-ice training four times a week. She is in pre-juvenile competitive skating and one of her highlights was at the BC Sk8fest in Chilliwack in October, placing eigth.
“I saw Sarah at the Provincials in Kelowna last year and I couldn’t believe the improvement she showed in just one year,” said Lang.
“I’m hoping that people will come out and support the club,” added Lang. “At $15 for a family of four, it’s inexpensive and they’ll be seeing some pretty decent skating.
“The club provides a good service for local kids,” said Lang, “and I hope we’ll be able to use the carnival to up our numbers for next year.”
The one-and-a-half hour shows will start at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Saturday at the Hope Arena. Single admission is $5 for anyone aged four and over.