The Juan de Fuca Skating Club has had a lot to celebrate lately as its athletes have been enjoying competitive success as figure skating events are returning in earnest for the first time since the pandemic forced nearly all to shut down for two years.
Director of skating Leslee Rushton said the most significant of the club’s recent success came at the Super Series B.C. and Yukon Section Championships held in Coquitlam Nov. 10 to 13. Six skaters competed in the event, with Avery Lister placing second and being named Vancouver Island champion in the U14 category, and Madison Simoneau placing sixth overall in the novice women category, earning her both the Vancouver Island novice women championship and a spot at the Skate Canada Pre-Novice and Novice Challenge, to be held in Regina, Sask. in January.
”It’s been a really good, incredibly busy start to our fall,” said Rushton. “Having a skater qualify for Challenge especially was really exciting because I don’t think the club has had a skater qualify for Challenge before, and if we did, it was many years ago.”
Other recent successes for the club include Lister’s gold and silver medals, Alexandra Hargrave’s silver and bronze medals, and Jessica Brewer’s bronze at the Super Series Autumn Leaves competition held in Kamloops in October, and a total of 13 medals earned at the Vancouver Island Interclub Competition in Mill Bay Nov. 19 and 20.
Given the lack of events in 2020 and 2021 thanks to the pandemic, Rushton said this year’s events have been the very first competitions many of the club’s skaters have competed in, making it a significant season so far even without the medals.
“With some of the competitions a year ago, there were video-based while others were in person, but few had in-person officiating. Instead, the skaters would go out and perform and the officials were working from their homes. So it has really been challenging just to provide competitions for the skaters.”
Rushton said the return of events and the relaxing of public health restrictions has also been good news for the club itself. Before the pandemic hit, the club had more than 300 members, but that number, and the club’s income, fell to next to nothing as the world shut down.
Today, she said the club’s membership has already climbed back to more than 250 members, and that number is expected to rise again once the spring season starts.
“At the start of this season, we are looking extremely healthy again member wise … we are just so excited and very happy to have our club running nearly normal again.”
Outside the rink, the club has also been able to resume its community events, which range from fundraisers for the club’s financial aid programs and local charities, to their participation in major events like the Peninsula Co-op Santa Claus Parade.
The club has programs running nearly year-round, and registration for Kinderskate, CanSkate, Figure Skating, and Synchronized Skating is open through jdfskatingclub.com.