Fernie skaters qualify for the B.C. winter games

The Fernie Skating Club is pleased and honoured to have two skaters competing at this year’s B.C. Winter Games.

Jodi Stemberger practising her routine.

The Fernie Skating Club is pleased and honoured to have two of their top competitive figure skaters competing at this year’s B.C. Winter Games. To be held in Vernon, the Winter Games features events in a number of sports, including Curling, Skiing, the Biathlon and Ice Skating, with an aim to develop athletes for higher levels of competition.

Jodi Stemberger, 12, and Gabrielle Runzer, 14, qualified for the prestigious event in November last year, following their successful routines exhibited in the Kootenay division of the British Columbia Sectional Championships, held in Kelowna.

Jodi began skating at the age of three, following her mother and an older sister into the spins and spills of the figure-skating world. She is currently perfecting a complicated jump referred to as a ‘double lutz double toe,’ and appears fearless on the ice.

“You jump, you fall, you hurt yourself,” Jodi remarks, “but you just try it again, and do it again.”

It is this determined spirit that coach Marny Wilson credits for Jodi’s success. Together, Jodi and Marny have choreographed two performances for the Winter Games, selecting a piece from the musical Chicago for her ‘long routine’, and another piece from the movie Horton Hears A Who for Jodi’s ‘short routine’. “Every skater works differently,” Marny explains, “But we work together to discover what works, what flows and what happens.”

Gabrielle comes from a similarly skating-oriented family, with a brother in Ice Hockey, and a mother acting as her coach through her early years in the sport. A conscientious and committed athlete, Gabrielle divides her time between six skating and nine dancing sessions every week. When asked about her favourite aspect of figure skating, Gabrielle cannot pick a single feature. “It’s a really fun sport. Every time I step on the ice, I go out to enjoy myself.”

Both skaters are highly involved with the Fernie Skating Club, working with ‘CanSkate’, a Canada-wide program designed to teach the basic skills to skaters of all ages. However, for those of a more ‘spectatorly’ inclination, the club’s 110 skaters will perform in their Annual Carnival on February 17 and 18 at the Fernie Skating Rink.

By Centine Wilbers, The Free Press

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