Forest Hill skates the night away

[attach]1360[/attach]Julia Thackray loves figure skating.

It shows in the confident tone of her voice as she coos about Kurt Browning and working on her double jumps.

For the 11-year-old it is the thrill of showing of what she’s learned at the Forest Hill Figure Skating Club Demo Night 2010 that keeps her aloft.

“I really, really like presenting when I’m at a competition,” she said. “I like presenting to the crowd to show them what I can do.”

There’s a sense of modesty in her voice though, as her coach Elaine Hume has to coax her to talk about her latest accomplishment.

She has qualified for Skate Canada’s Central Ontario Team to compete at the Provincial Championship in Kingston.

“This is the first time anyone from this club (has qualified) in several years,” Hume said. “She’s worked really, really hard too.
“They started the competition with 93 children and they’ve come down to two.”

It’s hard not to be full of vim and vigor as the decibel level of Larry Grossman Arena hits a fever pitch with girls humming about salchows, lutzes and loops.

Hundreds of Jennifer Robinsons in training performed in 60 programs, some solo, others choreographed troupes.

[attach]1359[/attach]Rebecca Grace, donning the Team Canada Olympic jacket, is in the epicenter of the precocious skaters.

The coach is brimming with the flighty energy that soaks the waiting area.

“It’s awesome to be able to work with the little kids,” she said. “You can’t ask for a better job than to do what you love and passing it on to children.

“You figure skating career doesn’t end when your skating does.”

Grace looks out into the waiting area where little girls don the rhinestone suits and her eyes widen.

“With these little ones in the outfits, how can you not (enjoy it).”

For her just teaching children what she learned as a competitive 9-year-old skater is enough to keep her skating.

“Just the day-to-day comings and the smiles on their faces and the little ones that at the beginning of the year can’t stand up and by the end of the year they’re off racing around,” the 27-year-old said. “The transition from walker, sitting on their bums, to working towards the triple sals.”

Even parent Alysa Kim, whose children Toby, 4, and Evelyn, 7 have been inspired to be the next Patrick Chan or Joannie Rochette.

“My daughter (Evelyn) came to me in the summer, actually and said, ‘Mommy I want to be a figure skater’,” Kim said. “I said, ‘It’s too late. You’re too old,’ but I think she liked it so much that she’s one of those kids that will (remain).

Evelyn has even picked up on the tactics athletes use to train.

“She’s starting to skip more during her lunch hours because she saw some of the girls doing their off ice training,” Kim said. “She was pretty dedicated for a 7-year-old to begin with, wanting to skate every day.”