A recreation program at the Nakusp Arena this winter is teaching a new generation of kids to love the ice.
Since it started in the fall, ‘I Can Skate’ has taught dozens of children ages 3-11 how to have fun on blades.
“It’s exciting,” says Bri McQuair, who’s been running the course. “There hasn’t been a figure skating club or skating lessons offered in the village for some time.”
McQuair grew up in Nakusp and was active in the figure skating club from age 2 to 17. She’s just recently moved back to the village after spending years living in Vancouver and the U.S.
“It was time to come home,” she said of her return to Nakusp last spring. “I didn’t intend to stay for the winter, but was approached by the village to run this program.”
She says it’s been gratifying to see the response to the course she’s offered. The fall session had 16 students, while the lessons underway now have 28.
“To me it is great to see the interest is still there, we can have a new generation of figure skaters and hockey skaters coming up.”
Teaching small children in a classroom is hard enough, but McQuair says she has her tricks to get lessons across on ice.
“It’s the art of distraction,” she says of her method. McQuair avoids the discipline-heavy methods of figure skating.
“I find they love it,” she says. “The training is real grass roots – I opt for using games, toys and props – making it fun for them, so they don’t even know they are learning.”
The classes are meeting the approval of local hockey coaches too.
“The coaches tell me they really appreciate it. Kids today are going into hockey without learning how to skate properly,” she says. “This way, they can get a year of skating in first.”
Response has been so strong, in fact, McQuair is considering expanding it for next fall.
“I think next year we’ll do power skating, offer adult lessons, and parent-and-tot sessions,” she says. “A lot of people have also approached me for private lessons, but I don’t have time right now.”
There are still a few sessions left, and late starters are welcome, says McQuair. 12 sessions are $112 for school aged children, $56 for pre-schoolers. The fee would be pro-rated for how many lessons are left, she says.
While it’s been rewarding to help rebuild skating in the community, says McQuair, coming home makes her realize how time has passed.
“I’m teaching a lot of my friend’s kids how to skate,” she comments.