Skaters not star-struck for StarSkate

Figure skating: Calgary event a tune-up for year-end competition

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 06:00 am

A trio of Okotoks Figure Skating Club skaters swept the podium at the CalAlta competition on Feb. 22-23. They are, from left, Anja Nel, Jenaya Niessen and Emily Jenkins.
A trio of Okotoks Figure Skating Club skaters swept the podium at the CalAlta competition on Feb. 22-23. They are, from left, Anja Nel, Jenaya Niessen and Emily Jenkins.
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It’s best to get the kinks out before going to a major figure skating competition.

Okotoks Figure Skating Club’s Anja Nel had a minor 30-second slip up when she came in second at the CalAlta competition in Calgary Feb. 14-16. She grabbed the wrong CD for her performance in the gold freeskate.

“I was happy with my skate, but my music was too short and I got a big deduction for that,” Nel said. “I was supposed to be 3 minutes and it was only three minutes. I just grabbed the wrong CD.”

Although she was deducted major points for finishing early, Nel is writing it off as a learning experience for this weekend’s StarSkate competition in St. Albert – one of the biggest figure skating events of the year.

“This will help me to grab the right music,” Nel said with a laugh. “I thought I had a good skate, I just ruined it with a stupid mistake. This (CalAlta) will help me with the little things I did wrong.”

Her Okotoks teammate Jenaya Niessen, also a Grade 12 student at HTA, finished first in the gold freeskate at CalAlta.

“My skate went well,” Niessen said. “I stayed on my feet the whole time and there were just minor deductions. There were definitely things that I can improve on for my next competition (StarSkate). It was definitely a learning experience. One of my spins didn’t count so I have to go back and fix that.”

Okotoks Figure Skating coach Kerri Roberts said Niessen had a strong skate.

“There are some really hard parts of Jenaya’s program, but she didn’t make it look hard,” Roberts said. “She did a good job of addressing the whole program as an entirety, rather than just getting hung up on the hard parts.

“She did a good job of taking some risks and looking clean throughout the whole thing.”

Emily Jenkins, also of the Okotoks Figure Skating Club, was third.

Now the three skaters are turning their attention to StarSkate, in which they will skate in the triathlon, which consists of three disciplines: skills, interpretive and the freeskate.

Each of the events is worth 33 per cent of the final score. The high score in the freeskate breaks any ties.

“It is really important for the girls to get their freeskate down,” Roberts said. “What is hard about this event is the freeskate is at the end of the triathlon... It’s the fittest at the end who often determines who is going to win.”

Jenkins said a lot of effort is needed to make it to the gold level.

“Being a Gold triathlon skater means that you reached a goal. You train, train, and train some more, to then take tests so that you can eventually get to this stage,” Jenkins said. “I feel that what it takes to get to the stage is determination and never giving up. Making goals and always striving to accomplish them, but even harder than that, is training as a gold triathlon skater.”

Niessen was fourth as Starskate last year, and Nel won the event. However, both of them have moved up to the gold triathlon since 2013.

“I’m excited, but it’s going to be nerve-wracking because I am so competitive,” Nel said. “Realistically, I just want to skate well for myself.”

Niessen is also excited about touching her toes on the frozen water of gold category at Starskate.

“It will be challenging to skate against girls who have competed in gold,” she said.

The Okotoks club is sending an estimated 12 skaters to Starskate.

“The competition is going to be tough because it is all of Alberta,” Roberts said. “But everybody has trained pretty hard to peak for this.”

Show time

The Okotoks Figure Skating Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a skating show at the Centennial Arena on April 6 from 1 to 3 p.m.

“We haven’t had a show in 10 years,” Roberts said. “We got started in 1964 and because this is our 50th anniversary, I said: ‘We got to have a show again.’”

One of the highlights will be a synchro team.

For more information go to


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