Two Richmond athletes are debuting as senior skaters at next week's national figure skating championships.
Richmond Connaught Skating Club's Amy Shao Ning Yang, 18, and Gabriel Blumenthal, 21, will be competing in the Senior Ladies and Senior Men categories, respectively, at the 2023 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. The event is being held from Jan. 9 to 15 in Oshawa, Ont.
Both Yang and Blumenthal told the Richmond News they have been performing competition simulations in preparation for the championships.
"I'm just trying to keep my body ready for the competition and I definitely feel a lot ready now after the three simulations," said Yang.
Blumenthal described this skating season as "the best (he has) felt."
"I feel pretty confident in what I can do so I'm feeling good about it," he said.
Last year, the national championships were held in an empty arena, but this year, seats will be filled with more than 10,000 audience members.
Yang said performing in front of an audience is what made her fall in love with figure skating. To her, it is the chance to "have the whole arena surface" to herself that makes her feel empowered as an athlete.
Meanwhile, Blumenthal is thankful for being able to perform in front of a large crowd.
"First senior nationals is a pretty big deal for me. I'm definitely excited to skate in front of a large crowd and travelling for sure," he said.