The Current

From 46 to 77 years old, these women are defying age to pursue a figure skating dream

On a whim, a tight-knit squad of adult female figure skaters in Kelowna, B.C., decided to try and compete in the 2018 ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition in Germany. We heard from two of the women about the bond the group formed on the ice, and a journey that was both life-affirming and exhausting.

New documentary follows B.C. women on road to international skating competition

The documentary To The Worlds follows a group of women from Kelowna, B.C., working to compete in an international figure skating competition in Germany in 2018. At far right is Henrietta Penney, 77. Third from right is film director and skater Wendy Ord. (Pinstripe Productions/Bountiful Films)

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When Henrietta Penney fell and cracked her head on the ice just weeks ahead of a big international figure skating competition in Germany, her teammates were distressed.

Their concern was exacerabted by Penney's age; at 77 years old, she's the oldest member of the adult figure skating team in Kelowna, B.C. 

Henrietta Penney laces up her skates. The 77-year-old is among the group of tight-knit, mature women featured in the documentary To The Worlds. (Pinstripe Productions/Bountiful Films)

"We were all very, very scared for her," her teammate, Wendy Ord, told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, adding Penney didn't move from the ice for "a long time."

"She's our team leader. She's our joy. We couldn't lose Henrietta."

The group called 911, an ambulance arrived, and Penney was found to have sustained a concussion. But by the next day, she was shaking her mishap off.

'Back on the ice I went'

"I got up in the morning and thought, 'Well, you know, you didn't break your leg. You can still do this. You just might have a little headache. Go with it,'" Penney said. "So ... back on the ice I went."

Penney and 59-year-old Ord are part of a group of women from Kelowna — ranging in age from their 40s to their 70s — who banded together to compete in the 2018 ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition in Germany.

Their journey is the subject of a new CBC documentary, To The Worlds.

Each of these women are growing older (some older than others!), but that won't stop them from competing in an international figure skating competition, or having a lot of fun along the way. 1:06

Along the road to their competition, the women face other obstacles. But Penney said there's always a bright side to those challenges.

"It really is good for your ego," she said of her whole skating experience. "It's also taught me how to be stronger on a team."

The documentary airs on CBC-TV on Friday at 9 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. You can check out more on the documentary on the CBC Docs POV website.

The team of women arrives in Germany for the 2018 ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition. (Glen Samuel/Bountiful Films)

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Kirsten Fenn. Produced by Alison Masemann and Idella Sturino.


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