After months of practice and preparation, members of the Sparkling Blades Figure Skating Club got the opportunity to strut their stuff this past weekend on home ice at the 2012 Lamontagne Skate Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Championships.
For the first time in a decade, the competition was hosted by Grand Falls-Windsor at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium, and the weekend-long event saw over 200 of the best skaters in the province compete for top honours in 31 categories.
And despite the high level of competition present from across the province, the Sparkling Blades shone at the competition, claiming a score of medals.
Of the eleven members of the Sparkling Blades that qualified for the provincial competition after scoring highly at the regional competition, eight took home medals. Four of those medals were gold, and went to Amber Tubrett in the Bronze Skills category, Erin Foote in the Silver Skills Category, Deidre Skinner in the Junior Bronze 12 and Younger category, and Erin Foote in Senior Silver. The club also picked up a silver medal, which went to Kayla Hynes who competed in the Junior Silver category. Autumn Saunders, Susan Cole, and Jasmin Tubrett all took home bronze medals in their categories.
The Seaport Skaters Figure Skating Club out of Botwood also sent five skaters to the event, and picked up a gold and silver medal. The gold went to Tyler Taylor in Junior Bronze Men and the silver went to Rachel Paul, who skated in the Preliminary 11 and 12 Years category.
Despite how effortless the sport appears to spectators, the wins came after months of hard work and practice, said Sparkling Blades coach Joanne Miller.
"I knew the skaters were prepared, I did go into it expecting them to do well so it wasn't a surprise. I saw the way they performed at regionals and knew what they were capable of, and they continued to progress and improve after regionals," said Miller. "It wasn't the best day for everybody, the figure skating sport depends on how you skate that one day, but everyone gave it their all."
Miller said she's proud of all the skaters that competed, but the highlight of the tournament for her as a coach was when Sparkling Blades' Deidre Skinner was presented with the E.C. "Ted" Withers Memorial Award for the outstanding performance of the weekend.
Miller described Skinner as a miracle child when it comes to skating, and said she has excelled beyond expectations with her passion.
Miller said it was an especially emotional moment for the club because Skinner had recently had to leave the sport while she battled a serious medical condition, but has bounced back extremely well since her return.
"She came back to the sport because she loves it," said Miller. "And when she (skated) there wasn't a dry eye in the place."
Deanna Hynes is the president of the Sparkling Blades club, and has been involved with the club for over six years. This will be her last year as president, and this past weekend was her first time hosting the provincial competition.
"As my last competition in my role, I could not have asked for a better weekend," said the beaming Hynes. "The volunteers really stepped up."
She added that the whole weekend ran largely without a hitch, and that the visiting clubs and judges have all given her positive feedback about the competition.
Hynes said aside from the great showing by her club, one of the highlights of the weekend was the opening ceremonies, when the members of the Sparkling Blades Figure Skating Club performed an opening number for the crowd.
"It was beautiful and people were so excited to see the opening number," said Hynes. "I think it's going to start a trend with the competitions."
Hynes said she couldn't be happier with the way her skaters performed and behaved throughout the weekend.
"I am just so proud of all the skaters," she said. "Every time a skater stepped on the ice you knew it was a Sparkling Blades skater, the way they pull together to encourage each other in the dressing rooms, it was just amazing."
For the full results of the 2012 Lamontagne Skate Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Championships visit http://www.skating.nf.ca.