Emma Nieuwesteeg has been figure skating for over half of her life. The 14-year-old started skating at the age of six, and has made it an integral part of her life. Now, she skates at least six days a week and is competing against some of the province’s best skaters.
She competed in the Sectional Championships, which included athletes from all over B.C. and the territories. The competition was held in Coquitlam on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8. The short program heats were on Saturday, which decided the order of skating for the long form competition.
Nieuwesteeg said she competed directly against 40 other skaters and came in seventh overall, after both her long and short program routines.
Nieuwesteeg is an active member of the Fernie Skating Club and is under the coaching of Deb Joseph.
“She’s good. She can be positive and helps me a lot,” Nieuwesteeg said of Joseph’s coaching.
She is on the ice at least six days a week for anywhere from an hour to two hours a day, depending on the day and the amount of ice time she has for the day. Ice time, especially in the summer, can hinder her training, as the Fernie Memorial Arena loses the ice during the summer months. To compensate, Nieuwesteeg travels to train in other locations. Last summer, she spent time in both Kelowna and Canmore, practicing as much as possible.
Nieuwesteeg wants to compete to the highest level she can achieve. Currently, she is in the novice category, but plans to advance to the junior and senior levels in the future.
“Girls I know have gone to nationals and I think that would be cool, and maybe get into the junior or senior level,” she said.
While there are possibilities past that, she knows that she would have to alter her life to achieve bigger dreams.
“If I wanted to be really good, I would have to move away to the coast or somewhere like that, where they have proper training and advanced coaches and more ice time, and where they train three hours and day,” she said, adding that many other girls have opted for that route. “With them though, they don’t have the education that I have, because I only miss two hours of school a week, and other girls, they go to school for half of a day, not even. And then they don’t get their high school education as easily. I get to go skiing and do other things, and not just skate.”
Nieuwesteeg is currently in Grade 9 at The Fernie Academy, and said that the school is supportive of her athletic endeavours, which she appreciates. They also have a program called the Skating Academy, which is two hours per week in which she gets to leave school specifically to skate.
Her family is also supportive of her skating, travelling with her to competitions and enduring the early morning practices.
“There are two early mornings a week, and they are not too bad,” said her mother Janet. “I don’t know how they do it, it’s first thing in the morning, and skating in the cold. They must really love it to do it so much.”