A Moncton figure skater got the experience of the lifetime when she was flown to Toronto to skate with Kurt Browning, Brian Orser and Donald Jackson last week.
Pat Noddin is 79 years old and has been figuring skating competitively since her early 60s.
But the journey to skating with three of Canada's best-known skaters began about two decades ago.
She was at the Riverview Skating Club, where she watched her granddaughter skate, when she began to take an adult skating program when she was in her late 50s.
Skate Canada introduced Ice Breakers, a program designed for adults who wanted to learn to skate or to enhance their skills.
At first, Noddin said only two other adults were lacing up their skates in the program.
A coach taught them some basic moves and dances during their initial skating sessions.
Noddin wasn't ready for the class to end. So she asked if she could join a dance class with the children at the club.
From that point, it wasn't long before Noddin began competing across Canada.
Long-time fan of skating
Even before she skated competitively, Noddin said has been a fan of the sport.
She fondly remembers figure skating or "fancy skating" — as it was called back then — with her first pair of skates when she was 13 years old.
"I've had this passion since I was a little girl. I just knew there was fancy skating and I loved it. I guess I was born to skate," she said.
As an adult, she would be glued to the television during figure skating competitions and even went to see the World Figure Skating Championships with her sisters.
That's how she knew about Canadian skating icons Donald Jackson, a bronze medalist in the 1960 Olympics, Brian Orser, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and Kurt Browning, a four-time world champion.
When Browning and Jackson were featured in an advertisement for reverse mortgage company HomEquity Bank, Noddin left a comment on Facebook saying that skating with them would be a dream come true.
Yvonne Ziomecki, the vice president of marketing and sales at the company, spotted that comment and began reaching out to Browning and Jackson.
"I thought she's exactly our demographic because we work exclusively with seniors and we just did something special with Kurt and Don," she said.
"So I called Kurt and asked him if he would consider surprising Pat. As soon as he said yes, we talked to Don and he was also on board. After that I had to figure out how to pull it all together."
Planning the surprise
She then found Janna McLellan, Noddin's coach, through Facebook, and started planning the surprise.
McLellan told Noddin she'd been selected for a seniors skating seminar in Toronto at the city's exclusive Granite Club on June 6.
"We get up to the dressing room and I opened the dressing room door and there's Kurt Browning sitting with his skates on, there's Don Jackson sitting with his skates on and there's Brian Orser sitting with his skates on. And I'm just thinking, 'Oh my God,'" Noddin said.
After signing her skates, all of the skaters took to the ice.
"We just held hands and we skated and we talked. They just thought it was a great thing that an 80-year-old woman wanted to have a skate with them."
Noddin said her coach was emotional during the experience.
"It was just an hour and a half of pure bliss. They took me out to the middle of the ice and showed me all these fancy footwork things," she said.
"This was just so awesome."
When asked if she thought the tricks she was shown might give her a competitive edge, Noddin replied, "Maybe I taught them a few little moves."