A once-thriving precision skating (now synchro) team program in the Cowichan Valley organized and coached by Penny Baker allowed adults to continue skating into their 20s, 30s and even 40s, but few kept competing as individuals.
But there is somewhat of a revival going on for adults who still want to do freeskating and Pamela Ellis of Ladysmith is one of them at Fuller Lake Arena in Chemainus.
Ellis is 41, but still glides around the ice gracefully with the greatest of ease that’s the same from her youth and kept her in figure skating for a long time.
Oldest daughter Liahni Ellis-Donald’s presence with the Fuller Lake Skating Club as a junior skater prompted Ellis to get back out there and relive those glory days on the ice for fun and fitness.
“It’s such a pleasure to share something you love with your child,” she said.
“It’s been probably 20 years. I started a couple of years ago. I came back when I was 38 after I had my third baby.”
Ellis calls skating sessions her little haven, “my outlet to mental health and wellness.”
“I skate with such an amazing group of students or athletes. They’re so dedicated. I’ve skated at a few different clubs. This one, it’s everybody comes.”
Liahni, 9, is a Grade 4 student at Ecole North Oyster Elementary School and currently skates in Star 1. Middle daughter Ali, 6, who’s in Grade 1, has had lessons with her classes and loves to go fun skating while youngest daughter Grethe, 3, is also into fun skating already where she has a great time with friends.
Ellis grew up in Calgary and skated at the same club where current Fuller Lake head coach Dominic Turgeon was teaching, although he was never her coach at the time.
“The skating world is a small world,” she chuckled. “It’s well-connected.”
Ellis mainly skated in Calgary, but spent time overseas working in China and Taiwan. She had a void in skating after age 22, but did manage to find minimal ice time to skate at rinks in Taipei and Bangkok (on vacation) and once in Shanghai.
Ellis is hoping to skate in Cambodia in the future.
Along with boyfriend John Donald, who’s now her husband, the couple lived in Durango, Spain for almost a year from August 2008 to June 2009. Ellis taught French and was finishing her final Spanish courses at Duesto University to complete her degree and went to Santander to skate with students of all ages.
Ellis and Donald came back to Canada in 2009. She did her final practicum at Ecole Hammond Bay Elementary School in Nanaimo and Donald started in the teaching program at Vancouver Island University.
The couple currently lives in Ladysmith and Ellis has been teaching at Ecole North Oyster since September of 2015, with some time off when Grethe was born.
She entered the recent regional competition at Port Alberni and that was a real blast from the past for her.
“It was my first competition since I was 18, probably 23 years,” she indicated.
Ellis placed second in the women’s freeskate event and was most satisfied with that performance.
She completed all the Gold level tests during her teens in skills, dance and freeskate. Last year, Ellis passed one of her Diamond Dances – the Rhumba – and is planning to test for one more in April.
She’s always come back to the ice in her life and is considering going overseas again at some point.
“My one disclaimer is there must be ice,” Ellis emphasized. “That’s what I would hope for. A virtual necessity.”