Like so many elite youth athletes, the skating talent at Richmond’s Connaught Skating Club had their dreams of competing in national competitions snatched away by the pandemic.
Around 20 of the non-profit clubs’ members would have been qualifying right now for the nationals, via competitions.
All of them, according to Keegan Murphy, Connaught’s director of Skating Programs, have “worked tirelessly through the pandemic, all in the goal to fight for national titles in February 2021.”
That’s why, to end the season on a positive note, Murphy helped set up a virtual exhibition of their competition routines which was live-streamed to an audience of family and friends.
However, among the virtual spectators were some very special guests - Olympic Champions Patrick Chan, Kirtsen Moore-Towers and Meagan Duhamel – who gave each skater direct feedback, via Zoom, right after their performances.
“I was a little nervous about having a Canadian Olympian watching my performance because naturally, I wanted to skate the best I could, especially in their presence,” said Leah Lee, who placed fourth in the 2020 junior ladies Canadian National Championships.
“It was an honour to be able to receive feedback from such great and accomplished athletes, taking their words to deep appreciation and bringing them with me as we move onto the season ahead."
Another of the Connaught skaters, Wesley Chiu - 2020 junior mens Canadian Championship silver medallist – said he adored “every aspect” of the end of season performances.
“My favourite part would definitely be redeeming myself after a disappointing short program at the Skate Canada Challenge, due to an injury,” Chiu told the Richmond News.
Lee added it was very exciting to be able to perform live for an audience, even though it was virtual.
“Other than talking about my training day at the supper table and watching little snippets of elements caught on camera, my family and friends had limited knowledge and visuals to how I have been skating or how much progress I have been making,” she said.
Murphy said that, as a non-profit organization, he has had to constantly find innovative solutions to “provide developmental opportunities for our athletes that follow and respect the current provincial guidelines.
“We are so fortunate to train in at the Richmond Olympic Oval where we are inspired by Olympic Rings each and every day."