Vanessa Shearer (left to right), Alexa Pylarinos, Katharina Wetzig, Elvis Stojko, Tayler Kelsey, and Coach Laverne Howard. (Submitted photo)

Four South Cariboo figure skaters have training session with Olympian

Four figure skaters from the South Cariboo found themselves taking lessons from two-time Olympic silver medalist, Elvis Stojko, on Feb. 9.

“It was put on by the Highland Development Camp Figure Skating School. It’s in Logan Lake, so believe it or not, he [Stojko] flew all the way from Toronto and came out to Logan Lake and put on a seminar,” said Vanessa Shearer, a director at the club and a parent of one of the four skaters.

The seminar had limited spots for 40 people. It was first come, first serve and open to clubs from 100 Mile, Logan Lake, Kamloops, Merritt, Williams Lake and Quesnel.

Related: Figure skating club looks back on busy 2019

Shearer said it was limited to 40 spots because it gave enough space for jumps and made for a better intimate session. The skaters were split into two groups, a Star 2 and 3 group, and another from Star 4 all the way to Star 9.

The four girls who attended were Tayler Kelsey, Alexa Pylarinos, Katharina Wetzig, and Vanessa – Shearer’s daughter.

“His input on things – it’s a different take than what your coach says with the different experiences he’s had. When we’re doing a skill, jump or spin he has the exact wording that you need and the exact skills, movement and position that you need to do it right,” said Vanessa on how helpful Stojko’s lessons were.

Pylarinos, the youngest of the four, said she found it helpful that Stojko was on the ice to show them the moves and set an example on how it was done.

An example used by Vanessa, a Star 3 skater, was the backspin. Stojko showed them the exact point they should start their spin and the moment to bring in their leg.

“The training seminar was great because it was a day-long event. It went through everything, really. They did a warmup in the beginning, they did some off-ice training with some lyrical and a little bit of dance. Then they went into doing spins, another session on jumps and skills. At the very end of the day, he had a question and answering period where they could freely ask questions and then he had autographs and signings,” said Shearer.

None of the girls asked questions, but they all got autographs.

Shearer said Stojko was funny and that everyone enjoyed his sense of humour. It helped, she said, to put the students at ease and made them comfortable, allowing them to learn easier.

“He talked a lot about sacrifice and his accomplishments and also what it took for him to get there, which I think was really good for them to hear,” she added.

If asked if they would go back to the seminar, Kelsey, Plylarinos and Vanessa all said, “yes, definitely.”

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