Two figure skaters from the Airdrie Skating Club (ASC) were beaming with pride Nov. 3, after winning gold in the pre-juvenile dance at Skate Canada’s 2019 Sectional Championships for Alberta, Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut.
Competing in Calgary, 13-year-olds Ben Vatcher and Heather Nunn scored 42.94 points – more than 11 points more than their nearest competitors – to come away with the gold.
“We were very excited, and happy to be provincial champions – it’s a big thing,” said Nunn, who has been skating for seven years. “But we’re also not over-the-top crazy, because we knew we could…get up to that spot eventually.”
Vatcher and Nunn bested each category of the dance competition for their age group, scoring 10.43 points on the tango fiesta, 10.9 points on the willow waltz and 21.61 points on the free dance.
“I felt happy and I enjoyed it,” Vatcher said. “Overall, it was great.”
Though they have more than a decade of cumulative skating experience between them, Nunn and Vatcher have only skated as a pair for about a year and a half. Sectionals marked just their fourth competition together, and their score was a personal best, according to ASC Director of Skating Lynnel Moss.
Moss, who is one of Vatcher and Nunn’s coaches, said their strengths and weaknesses on the ice balance each other out.
“[Nunn], for example, is very good at timing,” she said. “Timing, when you’re working within a musical structure, is very important, and it’s being judged. [Vatcher’s] strength is his power.”
Though their chemistry took some time to develop, Moss said the two skaters’ hard work over the past year and a half is paying dividends.
“What happened when they first started together was, they came in and it was more like banging into each other – like a push-and-pull kind of relationship,” she said. “Now, they’re starting to work more as one.
“That synergy is kind of happening between them.”
Nunn echoed Moss’ sentiments, saying her on-ice chemistry with Vatcher is always getting better.
“I think we’re improving quite dramatically,” she said, adding their scores have nearly doubled since their first competition together. “Our first-ever competition was last year’s sectionals, and we only had two months to prepare. We had a whole year to prepare for this moment.”
Other competitions the two participated in this year included the Competitive Fall Invitational in Okotoks, at which they also won gold, and the Wild Rose Invitational in Leduc.
With sectionals – the biggest meet of the year for figure skaters under the age of 16 in Alberta, NWT or Nunavut – complete, Moss said Vatcher’s and Nunn’s 2019 competition schedule is now concluded. She said the two will continue to train with dance coaches individually for the remainder of the calendar year, before reconvening in January 2020, with a new routine to work on.
Their first competition of the season will be in April.
She added they will be moving up an age group to the juvenile category, and will be pitted against older and more experienced competition.