There never is a shortage of up-and-coming talent on the ice for Connaught Skating’s competitive training sessions, even from other countries.
It was six months ago Liam Kapeikis joined the Richmond club on a full-time basis. Now the 15-year-old is off to Lausanne, Switzerland to represent the United States at the Youth Olympics.
Kapeikis grew up in Wenatchee, WA where his parents were coaches with the Wenatchee Skating Club.
Connaught’s director of programs Keegan Murphy established a relationship with the family when he brought some skaters to the Eastern Washington town for a competition.
Liam was invited to train with Connaught. The trips to Vancouver became more and more frequent as his competitive career began to take off. He now lives in the Lower Mainland with his mom and is doing online schooling for his Grade 10 year in the US high school system.
“It’s the high level training that is offered here, how good the facilities are and coaching as well from Keegan and the other coaches. The biggest thing though is probably (the opportunity) to train with the other skaters,” said Kapeikis. “I get a lot of motivation here and it just makes it easier to train day-to-day.”
It was through points earned from summer competitions that put Kapeikis on the US team for the Youth Olympics — a multi-sport international event held every three years that combines sports performance, culture and education in an authentic celebration of sport with a festive atmosphere.
Approximately 1,880 young athletes aged 15-18 will represent more than 80 countries. There will be 16 disciplines across eight sports on the Lausanne 2020 program.
The men’s skating competition is one of the first events of the Olympics which is a good thing for Kapeikis. He will be flying from Switzerland directly to the US Nationals in North Carolina.
He earned his spot in Greensboro by finishing second in the junior men’s event at the Pacific Coast Region US Sectionals that happened to take place in Wenatchee.
“It was a very big question if I was even going to go to the Youth Olympics because of the US Nationals. I was just lucky it worked out that my event (was in the first week). Otherwise I wouldn’t be going,” added Kapeikis.
Murphy will be joining Kapeikis in North Carolina directly from coaching his other skaters at the Skate Canada Championships in Mississauga.
“He’s a totally different energy to some of the other kids,” said Murphy. “It’s just great to have him on the ice. He is a good balance and he works extremely hard. Because of his background (from a small club) he really cherishes the training access he has now.”
Kapeikis finished 11th in his international Junior Grand Prix debut in Latvia and is close to adding the triple axle and quad toe to his arsenal.