The Connaught Skating Club will not only be well-represented at the Canada Winter Games, they also include two of the medal favourites.
The figure skating competition gets underway during the second week of the Games in Red Deer and will feature athletes in two different categories — Novice and Pre-Novice.
The B.C. team of 16 skaters includes Connaught’s Wesley Chiu, David Li and Maho Harada. Isabella Arney is an alternate.
Chiu is the star of the B.C. team.
The Richmond Christian Grade 8 student captured the Men’s Novice title at last month’s Canadian Championships in Saint Jean, New Brunswick. He followed that up by winning a competition in Germany two weeks ago. It was his first European assignment from Skate Canada.
“It was definitely a different experience,” said Chiu. “It was just a different feeling during the competition and I just tried to put all that stuff aside. I wasn’t really worried about placement. Just do what I do and see where I finish.”
Chiu will be the heavy favourite to win next week in Red Deer where he is expected to see many of the skaters he was up against at nationals. However, he won’t be skating the same programs. Instead, it will be a new short and long he has been working on with more technical difficulty as he prepares for next step of his career of moving up to junior men’s.
Li and Harada will also be performing brand new programs in Pre-Novice. Li was a silver medalist at the Skate Canada Challenge back in December in Edmonton and the 11-year-old will be a podium favourite at the Games.
So why not go the “safe” route and perform the same winning skates again?
The bigger picture is far more important to all three of these up-and-coming skaters. Li and Harada haven’t skated in a competition since Challenge two months ago.
“We can’t keep them in a holding pattern,” explained Connaught’s director of programs Keegan Murphy who is also a member of the Team B.C. coaching staff. “They needed to maintain their typical schedule and begin their work for next level or you are losing two months. That will eventually catch up with you. The same goes for Wesley who is essentially skating junior men’s programs.”
The Canada Games’ Novice and Pre-Novice singles competition runs from next Monday to Wednesday.