Jessica Ells, a graduating student of the Houston Figure Skating Club, is an assistant coach this year. (Photo courtesy Houston Figure Skating Club)

Jessica Ells, a graduating student of the Houston Figure Skating Club, is an assistant coach this year. (Photo courtesy Houston Figure Skating Club)

Busy season for local figure skaters

Regional competition coming up in Kitimat

Registration is up slightly at the Houston Figure Skating Club this skating season and a full series of events are being planned.

“Like everything, adapting has been a challenge,” noted Elaine Kaszas of the club’s response to the COVID-19 which has affected its activities.

“New safety plans have to be created and updated when there are changes to public health orders; rules and regulations have to be followed,” she said in adding that the club takes direction from provincial and national skating organizations and local authorities.

Approaching quickly on Nov. 26-28 is Kla-How-Ya, a regional skating competition held in a different location each year. This year it’s in Kitimat.

As many as 10 skating clubs stretching into the northeast and down to Quesnel take part in this competition each year. In the Chinook trading language, Kla-How-Ya translates as ‘hello’.

The Houston club was the host of the 2019 Kla-How-Ya competition, a task made more challenging as it was held at the Smithers arena when there was a delay in putting the ice in at the local arena.

“Regionals will be held in Williams Lake in January and we have discussed possibly attending the Super Series event in Kelowna in March,” said Kaszas.

There are now approximately 50 skaters registered and a bring a friend day is being planned in early December by Stephanie Auston, the club’s head coach and skating director.

That’ll be followed Dec. 10 by a Christmas gala at the arena.

And planning has already begun for the club’s annual premiere event, its carnival.

“We do have a theme planned already. Costume making and decorating plans are in full swing,” said Kaszas.

“We have been lucky enough to receive some sponsorship for this event already. Since the pandemic has put a damper on our annual carnival these past few years we have big plans to make this year’s carnival bigger and better.”

As well as local sponsorship, the club has received a $7,500 grant from gambling revenues collected through the provincial government.

“The provincial grant is something we apply for each year. Any funds received are use to help subsidize some ice costs,” said Kaszas.

“We are a small club with small groups of kids practising anywhere from one to three days a week and any funds help keep our registration costs more affordable for families.”

Head coach Auston is being joined this year by assistant coach Jessica Els, a graduating skater of the club.

Registration is still open and information can be found on its website at houstonfigureskatingclub.weebly.com or through its Facebook page.