The excitement is building at the Fort Macleod Skating Club prepares its annual carnival.
The club presents “A Night at the Movies” at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 18.
Skaters will be peeking through the curtains to see how many people are in the stands at Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.
Coach Cassidy Cox hopes her young skaters won’t be disappointed.
“Some kids get a little more nervous but when they come out hearing all those people clapping and cheering for them, it really helps,” Cox said.
Cox, 20, has coached for four years and is in her second season as head coach of the Fort Macleod Skating Club.
Cox took up figure skating at the tender age of five with the Lethbridge Figure Skating Club.
“I fell in love with it,” Cox said. “I liked watching it on TV a lot, and watching the older kids too . . . to see where I could be some day.”
Cox skated competitively from age five to 17, when she turned to coaching.
That decision was influenced by the relationship Cox had with her coach with the Lethbridge Figure Skating Club, Nina Evans.
“She was a really good coach and I always wanted to be like her,” Cox said. “I wanted to be able to let other kids love the sport like I did.”
Growing up on the ice, Cox like many other young skaters had dreams of skating on the world’s biggest stages at the Olympics and World championships.
“Then reality set in,” Cox said with a laugh. “It’s hard to get there, but I was skating every single day in Lethbridge. If you work hard enough, you can get there.”
That’s a message Cox now shares with the young skaters under her direction in Fort Macleod.
Right now the focus of the Fort Macleod skaters is on the annual carnival, which gets under way at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 18.
The skaters and their coach have been busy fine-tuning their routines in preparation for the club’s biggest event of the season.
Cox remembers as a young skater how the excitement builds leading up to the carnival.
“Some kids aren’t always super keen on it because there is a huge audience watching them,” Cox explained. “They really like being able to dress up in fun costumes and have fun on the ice for the carnival.”
“That’s what it’s all about is having fun. I always tell them they don’t have to be nervous because no one is here to make them nervous — it’s just for fun.”
Cox tells her skaters the people in the stands — mostly family members and friends — want the best for each of them and will not be critiquing their performances.
Nonetheless, skaters are always nervous before the carnival, particularly those who will skate solo routines.
“It’s really nerve-wracking,” Cox said of the lead-up to the solo performance. “But you get all the adrenaline flowing.”
The pressure of performing before a big crowd brings out the best in some skaters.
“They really step up when it comes to performing,” Cox said. “They get to share their passion in their routine and interprete it a lot. It shows everyone and tells a story in their routine.”
Some of the club’s skaters experienced pressure of another sort this season as they attended competitions at Edmonton and Medicine Hat.
They came through with flying colours.
At Edmonton, Star 2 skaters Karli Coast and Brynlee Van Sluys both placed third in interpretive in their first-ever competition.
At that same competition Star 2 skater Alexa Scott earned silver in interpretive and bronze in free skate.
At Medicine Hat, Alexa earned silver for interpretive and bronze in free skate; and Karli got silver and Brynlee earned bronze for interpretive and Kacee Larson earned bronze.
Star 1 skaters Hope Gouchie, Samantha Gouchie and Kaylee Davies earned bronze medals and Scarlett Nielson got merit at Medicine Hat.
Cox said that individual success benefits the rest of the club, pushing the younger skaters to try harder because they want to skate with the older group.
The carnival is important to the club, in that it brings skaters, coaches, the executive and parents together as they work toward the common goal.
“It can be stressful but it brings you closer,” Cox said.
The carnival will feature solos by Karli Coast, Kacee Larson, Alexa Scott, Emma Van Straaten and Brynlee Van Sluys.
Canskaters taking part are Drew Nielson, Leah Coleman, Brooklyn Vanee, Adelynn Van Herk, Tate Van Herk, Emma Ensign, Mya Ensign, Lily VanEe, Finn Kirk, Paris McNab, Matthew McNab, Emerson Hardy, Shawntia Brave Rock, Talyssa Andy, Ciara Andy and Madison McNab.
Star 1 skaters are Shannae Shot Both Sides, Kaylee Davies, Hope Gouchie, Samantha Gouchie, Scarlett Nielson, Leighton Provost and Helen Van Straaten.
Star 2 skaters are Karli Coast, Kacee Larson, Norah Ragan, Alexa Scott, Evangeline Vandervalk, Emma Van Straaten and Brynlee Van Sluys.
The skaters will perform in costume in numbers shaped from Hollywood movies such as Grease, Minions, Ghostbusters, Sing, Annie, Moana, Harry Potter, Pitch Perfect, Beauty and the Beast, Hairspray, Shrek, Frozen, Zootopia, Trolls and Footloose.
Brynlee Van Sluys is one of the soloists in the Fort Macleod Skating Club’s annual carnival.