Tori Thiessen and other Skate Brandon figure skaters have dreams of representing Manitoba and winning medals at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and their on-ice session at Kinsmen Arena on Thursday may help them reach those goals.
Christy Krall, the 2013 Professional Skating Association coach of the year, and Erik Schulz, a respected jump coach, came to the Wheat City to work with 11 of the Skate Brandon competitors who are on Manitoba’s Canada Games selection team. Each skater had one-on-one and group sessions throughout the day.
Skate Manitoba brought in the two high-end coaches — Krall has coached Patrick Chan to world championships — to help improve its skaters, and Tori Thiessen, who won gold at provincials and the Manitoba Games this winter, feels they have done just that.
"I think it’s important because it helps you improve that much more and gives you more feedback," she said. "We have Tammy (McKay, Skate Brandon’s head coach), but it gives you more and it helps you improve that much more so you can have a better season."
Krall brought new teaching techniques with her. Her goal was for the skaters to see what needs to be improved, do what needs to be improved in a safe environment and then do it. She accomplishes it with DartFish software that allows her to record video of the skaters doing their jumps and comparing side-by-side or overlapping it with other skaters to go over fine technique points.
They also had a harness that allowed skaters to try different techniques without falling before they tried them on their own.
Krall, a former world and Olympic team member and coach, was impressed with what she saw from the Westman skaters and thinks Thursday’s sessions will greatly benefit them.
"I think they’re just on a road to real success," she said. "They’ve taken a real step in here. These guys are all moving up to the novice and junior level, which is a thrill for them. I think they’ve done a great job in this rink to bring in real specialists to teach them the modes of the best jumping technique there is. That’s why we’re here and why they’ll have a great summer and work hard on all these tricks."
Krall and Schulz will continue to work with Canada Games selection team members in Winnipeg on the weekend before hosting a two-day seminar.
They have worked before with a few Skate Brandon competitors in the United States, like Thiessen, and the 14-year-old Brandonite enjoys the experience.
"I’m familiar with it because I went down for a week this year to train," she said. "It was a catch-up and I went a month ago, so it’s nice to see her again and just get the same feedback and stuff from her and Erik."
Thiessen has dreams of standing on top of the podium at the Canada Games and knows it will take a lot of work to get there. Her time with Krall and Schulz may keep her on the right track, and she’s also gained a couple new supporters in the process.
"Reaching their goals will be based on a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication, a lot of training and I hope some of them make it," Krall said. "That would be great."