The Ice has melted, the dust has settled and the skaters have all gone home. Battle of the Blades Season 4 has just ended, but it has ignited a new generation of young people eager to show the world their skills on the ice. Mini Blades was a competition that took place in seven communities across Canada including Vancouver BC, Calgary AB, Regina SK, Langton ON, Stayner ON, Napanee ON and Saint John NB. Children aged 3 to 13 were invited to compete in a miniature version of Battle of the Blades for CBC cameras. The winning routine from each community was posted online and Canada voted for the winning pair. Georgia-Anne (Georgi) Riedl & Austin Martell were named Canada’s first Mini Blades Champions and performed their routine live, in the Battle finale.
Mini Blades has sent waves of positive effects in some of the most unlikely places. Sharon Renwick of Regina said “It was a wonderful experience for our entire club! This experience created so much excitement, we are planning on adding Mini Battle of the Blades to our programing.”
Adding to the excitement was the element of charity. Several clubs built in a fundraiser element to their event. Janice McLeod of Stayner explained how their club decided to give back: “All of our skaters chose charities that were important to them for whatever reason. That was nice to see kids getting involved and being willing to do something positive for someone else.”
The Vancouver and Napanee clubs each donated to local food banks . Tricia Craig of the Napanee District Skating Club described the approach her club took.
“We did not charge admission but instead asked for a food donation for our local food bank and/or a cash donation at the door. Each of the pairs skating in the Mini-Battle chose a local charity to skate for, with the winning pairs' charity getting the money that was collected at the door. At the end of the night, two vehicles full of canned goods were delivered to the Morning Star Mission - enough food to stock their shelves for the winter.
All told, the clubs across Canada raised over $3000 to contribute to various local and national causes.
Mini Blades 2013 has become a regular event in almost every community, with several others hoping to participate in the future. Kim MacVey has already witnessed the Saint John Mini Bladers working hard for next year: “The concept was very well received and our participants had huge fun getting ready for it. Even their parents. Both of the Pairs are hard at work for next the time should we be asked again. The girls are determined to work and improve so that one day they can be on the Big Show.”
The success of both Mini Blades and Battle of the Blades has inspired young hockey players from Vancouver Stayner and Saint Johns to start figure skating. Kerri Brauner of Calgary’s Wild Rose Skating Club said the event has even attracted some hockey players to try on those toe picks! “The event was very well received by our whole province and we have actually had 3 new hockey players join our club!”
Since performing on Battle of the Blades, Stayner Mini Champs Georgi & Austin have become quite the celebrities! Georgi's Mom Dorothy-Jo Riedl says the Mini Champs are experiencing mini fame back home: “Both Georgi and Austin were in the Collingwood parade as celebrity banner holders. Dundalk has created a huge banner to hang in the arena. They are both going to be in the Dundalk Santa parade and much more.” Austin’s Mother Raylene added that Austin is recognized at his hockey games due to his signature colourful toque, “And I have people stopping me to congratulate the kids all the time…. Austin has gained so much more confidence in speaking publicly; I think that was the biggest thing. He has a confidence now that he never had before.”
The positive effects of this mini endeavour have reached beyond what could be expected for such a simple idea. Christine Denn explained how this event has enriched her community in Langton ON. “It was a wonderful opportunity for Langton to be invited to participate in the first ever Mini Blades competition … We couldn't believe how our tiny little village of Langton came together to support us. Wherever you went, even outside of the community, people were complimenting us on a job well done. This opportunity has brought all of us closer together.”
Thank you is due to all of the clubs, event organizers, parents, volunteers and skaters who worked so hard to make this a success. We hope to see you again next year!