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Connaught skaters ready for Sectionals

Richmond club sending over 40 athletes for championships which start Thursday in Coquitlam
Connaught's Ellie Cheung will be competing in Pre-Novice at the B.C. Yukon Sectional Championships this week in Coquitlam.

It’s the biggest week of the competitive season with the Connaught Skating Club bringing over 40 athletes to Coquitlam for the B.C./Yukon Sectional Championships, starting on Thursday.

For many, the four-day event culminates months of training — working on short and free programs — with most of the grunt work done over the summer. Some will be trying to advance to represent their province at next month’s Skate Canada Challenge in Edmonton. For others it will be their first time on the province’s biggest stage, gaining valuable experience.

The Richmond club actually booked ice time for a recent training session at the Coquitlam Sports Centre to help its skaters become more familiar with the venue. Almost the entire Connaught coaching staff will also be attending the championships.

“When we go to competitions throughout the year, usually about three of our coaches go. But for this one we want every kid to be as comfortable as possible with their primary coach,” explained Connaught competitive head coach and director of programs Keegan Murphy.

“This is what they all have been peaking towards. We have about five more going than last year. For our Pre-Juvenile and Juvenile skaters, provincial titles will be on the line. For Pre-Novice, Novice, Junior and Senior you are trying to qualify for the Skate Challenge.”

Murphy estimates he has “between five and 10” skaters with the potential of advancing. However, with young skaters in a very competitive environment and scoring determined by judges, nothing is a certainty.

The club is anxious to see how a couple of up-and-coming eight-year-olds perform in their Sectional debut with a very bright future ahead of them.

“They have been skating with us since they were three and are already doing double jumps,” Murphy added. “They are not going to win but they are going to get a good taste and a positive experience from it.

“It’s a great competition and really it’s all about trying to get a personal best score. Maybe you are competing at Pre-Novice for the first time and you are building for next year, getting that valuable experience.”