Ice-breaking came easy to everyone at the Houston Figure Skating Club fundraiser on Nov. 4.
A sold-out crowd of 132 women turned out at the Houston Community Hall to enjoy dinner, drinks and a silent auction in support of local skaters.
“When you get this many women in a room it gets quite loud,” said organizer Tracy Chudyk, laughing.
“Everyone looks forward to it.”
Most of the proceeds from the annual ladies’ night go to offset the cost of ice time—the club has about 40 members and several practices each week.
Chudyk, who coached figure skating in her home province of Manitoba, said this year’s dinner marked the 40th year of figure skating in Houston.
Head coach Jennifer Austin said she gets a kick out of coaching, especially when working with the club’s three- and four-year-old skaters.
“You hear the funny stories, and everything is an adventure for them. So you get a lot of laughs,” she said.
Along with coaching, Austin also choreographs routines for the club’s skaters.
“You have to find different ways to move,” she said. “You hear a beat and it’s all in the interpretation.”
To teach routines, Austin uses the same clipboard-sized whiteboards with ice sheet markings that hockey coaches do. Many of the routines involve groups and pairs, but skaters start performing one-minute solos in level two of the five-level program.
“I think my favourite part is the competitions where you get to see the kids reach their goals,” she said.
Senior high school students and adults also skate in the club, and for the first time this year, Houston will be sending a total of six skaters to the provincials in Vancouver this March.
In the lead-up to that and other regional contests, Houston skaters will first join a friendly competition in December that features northwest clubs from Quesnel to Prince Rupert and Fort St. John.
On Dec. 18, the club hosts a gala show in Houston—the show is free and has a Christmas theme.
Austin said the Houston event she looks forward to most is the annual March Carnival.
“The Carnival is the culmination of all our work, the kids get to show everything they’ve accomplished over the season and they love it.”