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Connaught send 7 to Skate Canada Challenge

Competition starts Thursday in Edmonton with spots at Nationals on the line
Connaught Skating Club members (from left) Wesley Chiu, Maho Harada, Caitlin Tai, David Li, Victor Lum, Neo Tran and Isabella Arney are off to Edmonton to represent B.C. at the Skate Canada Challenge.

Maho Harada couldn’t have picked a better time to land a triple lutz for the first time ever in her young competitive career.

The successful jump during her free program played a big part in the Grade 8 student moving from fifth to the silver medal position in Pre-Novice Ladies at the 2019 B.C./Yukon Sectional Championships, landing her a spot at this week’s Skate Canada Challenge in Edmonton.

Harada is one of seven members from Richmond’s Connaught Skaitng Club who earned a spot on the provincial team competing in the Alberta capital starting on Thursday.

She is joined by Isabella Arney (3rd, Pre-Novice), David Li (2nd, Pre-Novice), Neo Tran (6th, Pre-Novice), Caitlin Tai (5th, Junior Women) , Wesley Chiu (1st, Novice) and Victor Lum (5th, Novice).

Harada’s first attempt at a triple lutz was over 10 months ago during her regular practice sessions. “I tried it in some competitions then took it out and put it back in again,” she explained.

She was unsuccessful trying to land it at Summer Skate in August and again at Autumn Leaves in October in Kamloops. She was encouraged by her coaches to keep trying and this time pulled off in the opening minute of her three-minute free skate.

“I was very excited,” smiled Harada of her breakthrough moment. “I was just hoping I could do the best I could and maybe make it to Challenge.”

Li narrowly missed the podium at last year’s Sectionals — finishing fourth and earning his first trip to Challenge. In similar fashion to his Connaught teammate it was landing an Axel jump during his free skate that secured him a silver medal.

“That’s what I was hoping for,” explained the Grade 6 student at Whiteside Elementary School. “I had been working a long time on my Axel and I think I just trusted myself more on the take off.”

Li has been skating competitively for five years and thoroughly enjoys the individuality of the sport.

“You are the one and only person on the ice,” he said. “That’s what I like about it.”

Li was 13th among 27 skaters from in his Skate Challenge debut last year in Quebec. This time the goal is to be in the top 10.

Chiu continued his climb in the Novice Men’s competition — skating to a convincing victory after winning silver a year ago. He will be a podium favourite in Edmonton after earning bronze a year ago.