Siblings in step on the ice

Figure skating: British TV gives pair the drive to skate

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 10:38 am

Charlotte and Luke Arbib practice at the Piper Arena on Thursday. The Okotoks duo finished in the top 10 at the sectionals in Edmonton in November
Charlotte and Luke Arbib practice at the Piper Arena on Thursday. The Okotoks duo finished in the top 10 at the sectionals in Edmonton in November
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An Okotoks Figure Skating Club duo got its start from watching some Olympic champions on the telly from their England home.

Now they want to follow in their dance steps.

“When I was watching Dancing on Ice, I saw Torvill and Dean and I was really, really excited,” said 10-year-old Luke Arbib. “I said ‘I want to do that.’ When we moved to Canada, I said: ‘I don’t want to move there unless I am going to learn how to skate there.”

The pair which ignited the flame in Luke was Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean who won the gold medal in ice dance for Britain at the Winter Olympic Games in 1984. The duo came out of retirement for Dancing on Ice.

The Arbibs moved to the Okotoks area five years ago and Luke and his younger sister Charlotte quickly signed on with the Okotoks Figure Skating Club. After they got their skating legs through CanSkate, they decided to team up last May and follow in the footsteps of their British idols.

The brother-and-sister team placed eighth at the sectionals in the pre-juvenile dance division in Edmonton in November, a competition which feature the best skaters from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta.

They have received some help from an accomplished former member of the Okotoks Figure Skating Club — Thomas Williams who is hoping to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in Russia. Williams and his partner Nicole Orford were third at the Canadian championships in ice dance in 2013.

“He has skated at high levels and it is exciting that he has helped us,” Luke said. “With Kerri’s (Okotoks club coach Kerri Roberts) advice it gives us that little bit extra.”

There is some precedence for success for the duo. Williams skated with his sister Alicia, now a personal trainer in Okotoks, prior to teaming up with Orford.

Fortunately, there is no sibling rivalry between the Arbibs. One of the reasons the pair is so compatible is simple, according to mother Melanie Arbib.

“It helps that Luke is a really nice big brother,” Melanie said with a laugh. “One time when they were skating Charlotte fell and Luke caught her and then he fell and he cradled her on the way down. All the mothers had their Kleenexes out... My brother would have been kicking me.”

Charlotte admitted she has a good skating partner and they have a connection she can’t quite explain.

“When we are skating together, we kind of know where we are going and when we count together, we just know when to push off,” the eight-year-old Charlotte said. “It’s like magic.”

It’s not always magic between the two, they do have their squabbles.

“Off the ice sometimes we argue,” Luke admitted. “It’s like ‘You did this and you did that’ but eventually we realize it is 50-50. If one person makes a mistake then both of us make a mistake – in ice dance we are one.”

Luke said he would like to make the jump to Juvenile by the time he is 12 – and be able to lift his partner in competition. At present, they are not allowed to do lifts at their level for safety concerns. However, Luke is lifting Charlotte during dry-land training. Their coach said the Arbibs are off to a good start.

”They are hitting the playing field young,” Roberts said of the École Beausoleil students. “They are smart, young and dedicated skaters. When you have those three bullets in place, you are looking for some great things to happen... And brothers and sisters tend to be more intuitive to one another – almost telepathic. Often times that’s an attribute in ice dance.”

For more information about the Okotoks Figure Skating Club go to www.okotoksskatingclub.com


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