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Fort Macleod bids farewell to popular skater Jesse Smith

Jesse Smith

Jesse Smith was remembered Wednesday for the passion and dedication he brought to figure skating.

Fort Macleod said farewell to Jesse Smith on Wednesday in one of his favourite places.
Hundreds of family members and friends filled the bleachers at Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre for the funeral for the popular young figure skater.
“Each one of us is here today because we had some connection with this amazing young man,” Smith’s friend Chris Scout said in the eulogy.
Smith died Nov. 7 after a nearly two-year battle with cancer. He is survived by his mother Wendy, his father Dan and his brother Adam, as well as a large extended family and friends.
The funeral service conducted by Rev. Eras Van Zyl included musical selections performed by Jesse Smith on video as well as Elton John and Leanne Rimes, a slide show of photos and video of Smith skating.
The 26-year-old Smith competed nationally and internationally in figure skating, worked for Disney On Ice and later coached across southern Alberta.
“Some of us met him here on the ice,” Scout said, adding others knew Smith through school, music, his on-line social network or through his battle with cancer.
“His life, although short, was full of experience, success and passion,” Scout said.
Scout related how young Jesse watched figure skating on television and would imitate the skaters’s jumps and spins on the living room carpet and on the frozen puddles outside.
“When he was nine he told his parents he wanted to be a figure skater,” Scout said.
Smith’s father Dan went to the sports centre and found a pair of figure skates that he painted black and gave to Jesse.
“This is when they discovered Jesse’s passion,” Scout said of the young figure skater. “From Day 1, he was a natural.”
Smith started winning competitions almost as soon as he started figure skating.
He went on to compete at the Alberta juvenile and junior men’s championships, and three times competed at the Canadian nationals.
“Jesse was determined to be the best skater he could be, and dreamed of being an Olympic athlete,” Scout said.
After graduating from F.P. Walshe school in 2005 Smith decided to become certified to coach figure skating.
“His coaching took him all over southern Alberta,” Scout said. “Working with young people in small town arenas, working with kids and clubs, he built a network of people who loved to skate, and loved him.”
Smith continued to work on his own skating, analyzing each of his performances to identify areas in which he could improve.
“Jesse worked hard on his sport, and was very hard on himself,” Scout said.
The hard work and analyzation paid off in 2011 when Smith was hired to skate with Disney On Ice’s performance of Toy Story.
Smith skated as three characters — Ken Doll, Andy and Rex the Dinosaur on the tour of the eastern United States.
“Rex was Jesse’s favourite,” Scout said with a smile.
After a year of touring with Disney On Ice Smith returned to Fort Macleod to work on his skating.
Smith had plans to compete nationally again, and also desired to skate with Disney On Ice in the U.S. or Europe or on a cruise ship’s ice show.
Early in 2012 Smith began to develop nose bleeds, particularly when he was skating.
On March 12, 2012, Scout received a text message from Smith that read: “I have cancer.”
“Jesse wasn’t going to stop just because he had a diagnosis,” Scout said. “Jesse continued to skate, and continued to work toward his goals.”
In December 2012 Smith posted a message on Facebook: “First double axle since treatment. Cancer is not stopping me.”
Scout also reflected on Smith’s passion for gaming and music, including piano and French horn.
“Jesse was also a thrill seeker,” Scout added, listing skydiving, bungee jumping and riding rollerskaters as examples. “Jesse was fearless.”
Smith also enjoyed long drives.
“Jesse loved to be the passenger and didn’t mind that we never had anywhere to go, or anything to say,” Scout said. “Jesse didn’t mind there wasn’t much conversation on these rides. He seemed to enjoy the silence.”
Scout recalled one such trip when they arrived at a music score filled with keyboards and Smith gave an impromptu music lesson to a young boy of nine or 10.
When Scout later commented on the impact Smith had on the youth, Jesse shrugged and said he just showed the boy a few things.
“That’s what Jesse did,” Scout said. “He just showed us a few things. But like the little boy in the music store, he stirred our spirits.”
“However you got to know Jesse, through skating, his music, his video games or any other passion that he shared with you, he stirred your spirit.”
“For those of you who met him during his journey with cancer, his hope, his strength and his bravery inspired all of us.”

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