Leah Newman (left) and Montanna McIlwain (right) have reached their gold level skating skills status as recognized by Skate Canada. The two skaters are the only members of the Columbia Valley Figure Skating Club to have reached the gold level

Local figure skaters achieve gold status

After years of hard work, two Columbia Valley Figure Skating Club (CVFSC) figure skaters have reached gold skating skills status.

After years of hard work, two Columbia Valley Figure Skating Club (CVFSC) figure skaters have reached gold skating skills status as recognized by Skate Canada, and coach Danielle Elford couldn’t be happier for them.

“I’m very proud of them,” Elford said. “They’ve worked extremely hard to get to that level… for them to achieve (gold status), it’s a personal achievement, but it’s also them following through on my belief that they can do it.”

Fifteen-year-old Montanna McIlwain and Leah Newman, who turned 16 on October 10, were presented with gold pins as part of their achievement at a small ceremony at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena on Monday, October 1. The two skaters are the first gold level skaters Elford has coached since she began at the CVFSC six years ago and she said that, according to the club executive, McIlwain and Newman are the first gold level skaters in recent memory.

“The neat thing is that it provides motivation for the younger kids,” Elford said. “They now understand and can see something tangible that they can

strive for.”

To reach the gold level, each skater has to go through a number of lower level certifications in the skating skills category. There are a total of six levels, with each level usually taking a figure skater about a year to complete; however, McIlwain and Newman did something extraordinary in achieving their final three levels in just a single season.

“Normally at each level it would take a solid year or more to get a skill, and these girls actually accomplished three levels in one year, which is quite phenomenal,” said Elford.

The hard work doesn’t stop here for Newman and McIlwain as they have a number of goals left to strive for. Most notably, the two girls are attempting to reach that same gold level certification again this year, except this time in a different category: ice dancing. Elford said she was unsure if it was possible for the girls to reach that level this year. Beyond ice dancing, there is also the toughest category, free skate, yet to accomplish, but for now the focus is on ice dancing.

“They want to push themselves,” Elford said. “Because of that they’re really working hard to get it.”

The CVFSC has two upcoming competitions, one in Edmonton in November and another in Fernie in January. They will also host a skating seminar in Invermere later this month on October 27 and 28.

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