Patrick Chan, Kaetlyn Osmond fan favourites at figure skating nationals
'The kids are excited, the parents are excited, the club volunteers are excited'
Fans from across the Maritimes are expected to begin arriving in Halifax today to take in a week of competition from Canada's best figure skaters.
The National Skating Championships are back in the region for the first time since they held were in Moncton, N.B., in 2012, and fans are ready to take it all in.
Judy O'Leary, who is with the Bedford Figure Skating Club, jokes she and her daughter will be living at the rink.
"As soon as we hear they were coming, we bought the tickets right away," she said. "I think it was six months ago."
Wendy Stewart, who organizes the CanSkate program for the Halifax Skating Club, says children, parents and club volunteers are all excited.
"I'm going to watch every minute of it I can. Take advantage of it," she said.
She said several skating clubs in the Halifax area have been a part of the planning.
"I know countless hours have gone in from countless people and countless clubs to make sure things run seamlessly to make sure the athletes and coaches visiting from away feel welcome and well taken care of as well," she said.
Big names back
Novice and junior competitors will be on the ice starting today, but the senior contests at the end of the week will mark the return of some crowd favourites.
"We have tickets for the whole entire week," said O'Leary. "What we're really waiting for are the dancers and Patrick Chan."
Chan, a three-time world champion and 2014 Olympic silver medallist, returned to skating last spring following a year off.
Kaetyn Osmond, a former Canadian champion, is also back. She was out last season after breaking her leg.
"Canada's a powerhouse in figure skating," said Stewart. "I'm really excited for the pairs."
It's not just the competitors who are set to benefit from the week of competition.
"This event draws skating fanatics from across the country, and sometimes even the States because we have such strong athletes and some people come to these events every year," said Stewart.
"They plan their winter vacations around where nationals are going to be."
There will be three CanSkate showcases, where young local skaters will get to perform for the first time.
"I still remember when I was a kid skating there," said Stewart. "You're using the ice that usually you only see big, world-level athletes using, so they're excited for that."
When it's all over, she expects figure skating fever to continue in the region.
"I anticipate that when our spring programming rolls around we'll have an increase in registration and a lot more requests for learn-to-skate information."
O'Leary hopes it will inspire a specific group of athletes.
"I really hope that there's a lot of young boys and young fellows that decide to stay with it. It's really for them an amazing opportunity to see this kind of calibre of skating."