The Campbell River Skating Club is finishing up their preparations for the biggest weekend of the season: their annual Year End Gala.
And this season’s biggest weekend is even bigger than most, as three-time Olympic medalist and 10-time Canadian National Champion Patrick Chan will be alongside them on the ice at Strathcona Gardens.
One week from this Saturday, on March 7, at 2 p.m. the club presents “Skating Through The 80s,” a celebration of the club’s season and this year’s gift to the community, featuring performances by a world class skater alongside the local team as it shows off its skills.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, not only for the community, but especially for our skaters,” says club president Sue Smith. “The benefits that they’re going to get from this and the enthusiasm they’re going to carry with them from this into the next competition and the one after that and the one after that is undeniable.”
Some of that benefit will, of course, be in being able to watch, in person, a seasoned, world-class professional out on the ice in front of a crowd. But the other benefit will be the actual time that local skaters will get to spend with Chan.
On the Sunday following Saturday’s gala, the local skaters will be having a closed-rink session with Chan and his partner Elizabeth Putnam. Putnam is an accomplished skater in her own right, most notably as a pairs skater with Sean Wirtz in the early 2000s.
“It’s going to be incredible for the girls to be able to work with skaters of this calibre in small groups,” Smith says. “From what I understand, this is what he likes to do. He enjoys giving back to skating and visiting smaller communities like ours – he went to Terrace and Sechelt last year – so he clearly likes giving back to small clubs and young clubs.”
As far as the gala itself, Smith says there are “about 24 numbers planned so far between solos and group skates, which is a few more than we normally do. We’ll run pretty close to two hours with a 20-minute intermission to clean the ice.”
Tickets for the event are only $20, and there’s still one more chance to get your hands on one.
“Tickets are selling well,” Smith says, “but we have one more public sale on Saturday (Feb. 29) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the main lobby. If we somehow happen to have a few left after that, we will sell tickets at the door, but I don’t know how likely that is. We’re not selling to capacity, because we don’t want people to be crowded. We want people to be comfortable and have fun.”
Despite next weekend’s event being called the “Year End Gala,” the team actually has one more event on the calendar for early April down in Parksville.
“Technically, that’s considered the first competition of the next season, but we do it as the last competition of the season for us,” she says with a laugh. “It’s very confusing.”
If you can’t make it to the rink on Saturday to get your tickets for the gala, you can email the club at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out whether there are any tickets left to be sold at the door on the day of the event. Notice will hopefully also be placed on the marquis sign facing Dogwood Street at Strathcona Gardens leading up to the day, Smith says, if there are any tickets left to sell.