Madison McCallum works on her programs in practice on Monday night. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
After sweeping the medals at the provincial figure skating championships, Skate Brandon is sending its biggest contingent ever to the Skate Canada Challenge in Regina this weekend.
Skate Brandon will send three skaters in the novice division after Madison McCallum, Brooklyn Parker and Kirsten Gutenberg finished 1-2-3 in Manitoba, and will also be represented by three competitors in pre-novice after Tori Thiessen, Devon Borody and Hannah Martin earned gold, silver and bronze, respectively, at provincials.
"I’m extremely proud of the girls and the work that we’ve done and the effort that we’ve put in to get this far," said Skate Brandon coach Tammy McKay. "We are going strong."
In the novice division, the top 18 skaters out of the field of 51 this week will qualify for the Canadian championships, slated for Jan. 13-20 in Mississauga, Ont. McCallum, a 15-year-old six-time provincial champion from Portage la Prairie who now lives in Brandon, is expected to have the best shot of the trio to advance to nationals. Parker, a 16-year-old from Morden who trains in the Wheat City, and Gutenberg, a 14-year-old Brandonite, will also take a run at qualifying for nationals. However, cracking the top 10 or making the medals is likely out of reach for the trio this year, according to McKay.
"It’s always something to shoot for, but realistically we are looking for finishing in the top half," McKay said. "If (McCallum) goes out and skates the way she is capable, she is definitely capable of making the top 18."
This week’s Skate Canada Challenge also serves as the national championship for pre-novice competitors, with 56 of the top skaters in that category from across the country battling it out in Regina. With such a tough field, McKay is not looking for medals this week from her skaters — Thiessen, a 13-year-old Brandonite, Borody, a 10-year-old Portage girl who trains in Brandon, or Martin, a 13-year-old native of Elkhorn.
"Our pre-novice girls, two of them are going for their first time ever being at this level of competition, so it’s truly just the experience for them," McKay said. "Tori Thiessen, this is her second year and I know she has her goals set higher … Realistically, we’re looking at a top-half finish."
McCallum, Parker and Gutenberg take to the ice for their short programs today, with the free skate slated for Thursday. Meanwhile, Thiessen, Borody and Martin will skate their short programs on Friday, with the free skate slated for Saturday.
Virden-based skaters Paige Lawrence, 22 and Rudi Swiegers, 25, will also compete this week in senior pairs as a tuneup for the upcoming Canadian championships.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 5, 2012