Sooke kids find their best at junior nationals

Every athlete dreams of gold, but measurable improvement is sometimes enough to hope for.

Sooke figure skaters Pilar and Leonardo Maekawa finish the Westminster Waltz on Monday for the junior nationals.

Sooke figure skaters Pilar and Leonardo Maekawa finish the Westminster Waltz on Monday for the junior nationals.

Every athlete dreams of gold, but measurable improvement is sometimes enough to hope for.

The figure skating Maekawas glided onto the biggest stage of their young careers this week — the Skate Canada Junior Nationals on their adoptive home ice at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre — and raised their national rankings in the process.

Sooke siblings Pilar, 16, and brother Leonardo, 18, came in ranked sixth in the country in novice ice dance while Leonardo was rated eighth in novice men’s. The performances by the Racquet Club of Victoria skaters bumped them up one rank each by the end.

“With our routine I felt everything went well,” Leo said regarding their personal best score of 53.87 in Tuesday’s free dance, a mark that earned them fifth spot overall.

The energetic free dance routine made up for Monday’s effort in the compulsories. The couple appeared nervous and were less than precise early on, but recovered well and sat eighth in a field of 15.

“It was like … euphoria,” he said, clutching a stuffed toy, one of the many local fans tossed on the ice following his solo performance.

“I remember (being) in our starting pose and the next thing we were bowing for the crowd. It felt great and being in front of the home crowd made us even more excited to keep going. It was a perfect way to end the season.”

Pilar, still catching her breath immediately following the free dance, said the local fans were great and “gave us so much positive energy.”

Leo’s seventh-place finish in the novice men’s category gave B.C. three skaters in the top seven overall.

The 2011 Canadian Figure Skating Championships begin today at Save-on-Foods arena. See www.skatecanada.ca for details.

sports@vicnews.com