Cranbrook skaters set for StarSkate at home

Caitlyn Cavalier leans into her spiral at a training session with the Cranbrook Skating Club at the RecPlex, getting ready for the Pacific StarSkate competition the club hosts March 4 to 6. - Kerstin Renner
Caitlyn Cavalier leans into her spiral at a training session with the Cranbrook Skating Club at the RecPlex, getting ready for the Pacific StarSkate competition the club hosts March 4 to 6.
— image credit: Kerstin Renner

With just about a week left to train, young skaters from the Cranbrook Skating Club are putting the finishing touches on their routines, getting ready to represent their club as it hosts the 2011 Pacific StarSkate Championships from March 4 to 6 at the Cranbrook RecPlex.
“The most important thing for these kids right now is a clean run-through of their solo,” says coach Susanne McDonald. Seven of McDonald’s athletes will be performing at the competition. They are Darrien Armstrong, Freya Buch, Caitlyn Cavalier, Jessica Hewison, Emily Mayes and Brennan Weaver from the Cranbrook Skating Club and Brittany Becker-Campbell from the North Star Figure Skating Club in Kimberley.
“All seven skaters will be doing a long program,” McDonald explains. Four of them will also be competing in the interpretive category. The coach says the athletes have been working on their programs all season and this is the time when they are peaking for competition.
To qualify for the Pacific StarSkate, the competitors had to place in the top four at the Kootenay Championships. Now they are getting ready for some stiff competition from across British Columbia.
“I think they’ll hold their own,” says McDonald. “It’s really good for young kids to see what’s out there in the province.” There will be more than 280 athletes from across B.C. coming to the StarSkate and it is Cranbrook’s first time hosting a skating competition of this importance.
“I think there’s nothing better than performing in your home town,” says McDonald. She admits, however, that it is one of the hardest things to do as well, with extra pressure on the athletes from knowing their loved ones  are watching.
“I just can’t wait to perform in front of family and friends and show them all the hard work I’ve put in,” beams Darrien Armstrong. She has been working on her Asian-inspired solo since the summer.
“I just loved the powerful music, it made me skate faster,” the young athlete explains. The beat also helped her land her axel for the first time.
For the Pacific StarSkate Armstrong hopes to have another trick up her sleeve - the double salchow. “I’m gonna try it, because I really want it badly,” she admits.
She has a good track record for performing when it matters most. In the Kootenay Regionals, she landed a fully rotated axel for the first time in competition, earning her the first place.
“I really want to do well, because I’ve put in so much work this year,” Armstrong says. “My personal goal is to land all  my jumps and to have a really nice, clean run-through.”
“It’s a big event for a smaller club to host,” emphasizes event co-chair Debbie Mandryk. With more than 300 registrations - some athletes compete in more than one event - and in addition officials, coaches and family members, she expects it will be pretty busy in town for the three days.
Fellow co-chair Lorinda Nelson thanks other clubs in the region, in particular the ones from Kimberley and the Elk Valley for their help. “We really couldn’t put it on without their support,” she states.
The organizers also thank the many businesses and individuals who have stepped up with financial and in-kind donations as well as volunteer time.
The club encourages skating fans from across the region to come and cheer on their athletes.Tickets are available at the door Friday to Sunday and Skate Canada members can get in for free. For a full schedule, check online at

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