Two Elk Valley figure skaters brought homes medals from the 2016 Chinook Open Invitational. The three-day competition, which was hosted in Lethbridge, wrapped up on Apr. 3. Hunter Bezak won gold for Senior Silver Ladies and Alexandra Stephenson won a silver medal for her efforts in the Senior Silver Freeskate, and fourth in Gold Interpretive.
The skaters have been practicing the sport for nearly a decade. Both Bezak and Stephenson starting before the age of 10 and are now 17.
“I started skating at a later age than most others as I played hockey first, however I made up for lost time by working hard,” said Bezak, who started when she was nine.
“I first started skating at age seven, and competed in my first competition when I was eight – I placed second in the Sparwood Mini. I have competed and succeeded a lot in the past nine years. In 2012, I won the Autumn Leaves competition in Kamloops,” said Stephenson.
Despite a fun and relaxed season ender, the Chinook Open Invitational had some intricate routines from each skater that took a lot of practice to do cleanly.
“I skated to a Zoro medley. I skated seven or eight times a week leading up to the competition. I also did my program up to two times a session, ” said Bezak. “The gold medal was a nice way to end the competitive season.”
“My freeskate routine is a violin version of “Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia and “Shatter Me” by Lindsey Sterling. My Interpretive program is the song “Skyfall” by Adele. The hardest jump that I had to do in my freeskate program was the double lutz and I landed it,” said Stephenson.
Despite a smaller training window for the event, Stephenson had her hopes for first.
“It feels pretty good, but I would have been more excited to get the first place medal,” she said. “I didn’t have a whole lot of time to train before this competition. I was at [high school] basketball provincials in Duncan, a few weeks before and missed some practices. When I got back it was a lot of running my program and trying to get a perfect skate.”
Both skaters spend a lot of time training with each other and their teammates at the Fernie Skating Club.
“I practice with lots of other girls in the club, however Alex [Stephenson] is the only other girl from the club who competes Senior Silver as well,” said Bezak.
“[From] the Fernie Skating Club, some of the Seniors I skate with are Hunter Bezak, Emma Nieuwesteeg, Jodi Stemberger, Sonia Mende, Jodi Thompson, Rylee Whitson and more,” said Stephenson.
The skaters also had many people who have helped them and supported them in their training..
“I would like to thank my coach for putting up with me, especially close to competitions. Also, Alex for making preparation a little more fun,” said Bezak.
“I would like to thank my coach Deb Joseph for coaching me to her full potential, and never giving up on me even through the toughest of times as well as my mom, Shari Palmer, for driving me to every early morning and afternoon practice, competitions all around B.C. and Alberta, and for pushing me to my limit, never letting me give up,” said Stephenson.