'You can see the light in their eyes': Yukon parents praise skating program

The Arctic Edge Skating Club put on two performances of The Wizard of Oz in Whitehorse Saturday.

Arctic Edge Skating Club put on 2 performances of The Wizard of Oz in Whitehorse

The figure skaters wait for their cue to take to the ice in The Wizard of Oz at Takhini Arena in Whitehorse Saturday. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Dozens of excited young figure skaters took to the ice in Whitehorse for two productions of The Wizard of Oz on Saturday.

While the show was a hit with the crowd, parents of the skaters say the impact on their children is significant both in the short and long term.

Nicole Nielsen, mother of 10-year-old Eva, said her daughter has two practices a week at the Canada Games Centre.

"Then any day that looks like it's possible to be outside, she's asking to go down to the rink to practice her routine," said Nielsen.

Nielsen said her daughter has never wanted to be at an event where she may become the centre of attention. She doubted Eva would participate in Saturday's shows staged by the Arctic Edge Skating Club.

Nicole Nielsen, left, with her husband at Takhini Arena to see their daughter Eva perform. (Dave Croft/CBC)

But after a chat with the coach, Eva overcame that fear, said Nielsen.

"She is an incredibly brave girl."

Other parents are equally proud and impressed.

"They've been talking about it each night and especially for the last couple of nights," said Chris Dixon about his two young children, Kit and Aura.

Dixon said the children have been singing the songs to each other in the mornings, in preparation for the big show.

Jason Steele has two young daughters in the show, Blake and Rylan.

He predicted Saturday that he may have to hold back some tears when his daughters come out onto the ice.

"They're calling both the grandparents to tell them to fly up here to come watch them," Steele said. "You can just see the light in their eyes."

A couple of witches — good and wicked — a lion, the tin woodsman, a scarecrow and Dorothy and Toto were among the senior skaters in the Arctic Edge Skating Club's production Saturday. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Jacqueline Moore and Lila Nickel are mothers of two teenagers in the show.

Nickel said she's impressed how her daughter Jamie and the other skaters are supportive of each other.

"They learned how to cheer for each other and they learned how to support each other," said Nickel. "That kind of chokes me up. It's very sweet."

Dozens of figure skaters young and old were in the show. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Moore's daughter Tessa had to stop skating after an injury, but stayed involved as a program assistant with the skating club.

She said the discipline and self-motivation Tessa developed in skating is now devoted to her education.

"When Tessa was not able to continue skating competitively, her whole entire focus went from being about an average 70 per cent student in school, to ... an average 95 per cent," said Moore.

Bronwyn Hays, who played the Tin Man in the production, has been figure skating for seven years and expects to continue until she finishes high school.

But she said what's she's learned in skating is lifelong.

"I think it's helped me probably be more humble and stuff because being in a sport really helps you understand you're not always going to win," said Hays.


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