Community Clubs Elite Amateur Sport Junior Leagues Skating

Minto preps for a repeat run at Sectionals dominance

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By Anne Duggan

Zoe Gong was a silver medalist at last year’s Eastern Ontario Sectionals and then turned in a bronze medal performance at a nationwide competition. File photo.

It was a day when the adage “practice makes perfect” was absolutely true. The Minto Skating Club’s competition simulation on Saturday, Oct. 22 gave 40 local skaters the chance to run through their programs one more time in preparation for Skate Canada’s Eastern Ontario Sectionals on Nov. 4-6.

Ranked third in Canada last season, novice ladies skater Zoe Gong encountered a false start to her James Bond-inspired routine. When her music failed to begin, coach Derrick Schmidt had to get another CD before she could perform. 

Novice men’s skater Patrick Sachslaber found himself skating at the end of a flight of novice girls when a traffic jam caused him to arrive late at the arena.

The Sectionals are a first step towards competing at Nationals for skaters and last weekend’s simulation gave them a valuable opportunity to smooth over all kinds of bumps, explains Darryl VanLuven, a skating Coordinator at Minto.

Schmidt, who has coached for 11 years, agrees.

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“My kids were all at a competition last week so it was a good way to try out their adjustments before sections,” he notes. “There were pretty dresses and a little bit of pressure.”

Practicing before the big day seems to be making a difference in terms of athlete success. Schmidt estimates that Minto athletes garnered 62 percent of the medals at last year’s Sectionals competition, which included clubs from across Eastern Ontario, stretching to the eastern edge of the GTA.

Schmidt feels there are other reasons for these results. 

“We are a growing club and now run a year-round training program so skaters can practice in the summer months,” he adds. 

Minto has also expanded ice time hours from a 3 p.m. start to 2 p.m. 

“Now skaters like Zoe Gong can get another hour of practice in by leaving school early each day. They take online courses to do this,” Schmidt says.

VanLuven points to another change that he feels is making a difference. 

“We have partnered with the Ottawa Athletic Club,” explains the second-year head of the club who took over from retired legend Don Jackson. “This is helping our skaters be stronger and more flexible.”

The Sectionals will be held locally at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex in Orleans.

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