CORNER BROOK Three promising skaters will embark on a journey that will afford them an opportunity to mature both as a skater and a person.
Leah Whitten, Bethany Whelan and Kennedi Boland of the Silver Blades Skating Club will be among 21 skaters from Newfoundland and Labrador who will attend an athlete development seminar June 23 to July 1 in Ellenton, Fla.
Corner Brook pairs skaters Matthew and Alexandra Young will also be strutting their stuff at the Ellenton Ice Complex under the tutelage of an experience coaching staff that includes Canada's Lyndon Johnson. Lisa Young of the Silver Blades is among the coaching staff participating in the elite camp for budding skaters around Canada and the United States.
This trio spends countless hours at the rink each week honing their skills, and when they can't be found doing flips and jumps they can still be found doing things together because of the bond that brought them together in pursuit of success in the skating world.
However, this will be the first time either of the girls spent an extended amount of time away from their parents or attended a major skating event.
Kennedi, who is 12 years old, actually scoffed at the idea of going when she first heard about the development camp because she has never been away from her parents, which is a big part of this experience where the skaters will be challenged to be independent without mom or dad around for a week. She eventually changed her mind after realizing it was a good opportunity for her to develop as a skater.
"Just knowing all my good friends are going I'll have more fun," Kennedi said.
This is the shiniest moment in their young skating lives and they plan on soaking up the experience. Kennedi is looking forward to seeing first-hand some of the things she can practise to help her improve.
"I hope that with the new coaching I'll be able to learn new techniques on my jumps and get to learn some new jumps, and improve my technique so when I compete next year I'll be a better skater," Kennedi said.
Being able to hang out with the girls after the blades come off is also appealing to Kennedi. She wants to see new things and do new things to get the most out of the experience.
"After skating we're going to get to look forward to having fun in the amusement parks like Busch Gardens and going shopping in the outlets," Kennedi.
Bethany, a petite 11-year-old, looks forward to shopping and admits it's her mom's money she will be spending, but she has a clear vision of what she hopes to accomplish while training under new coaches in a new environment.
"I'd like to improve on my spins a lot because they are weaker than my jumps, and there's a couple of jumps I'd like to accomplish that I don't have yet," Bethany said.
Whitten, the oldest of the trio at 13, realizes the trip to Florida is something a lot of athletes could only dream of doing.
"I think it's a really great opportunity for somebody my age because a lot of people don't get to go off the island for different sports training camps so this is a really big thing for me," said Leah, a Labrador City native who started skating at five years old.
A big smile appeared on Leah's face when asked if she was going shopping with the girls and a quick response of "Yes" came as no surprise. However, Leah knows she has a ways to go to become a strong skater and hopes to find ways to improve in certain areas so she will be all business on the ice.
"I would like to get some of my jumps a bit more consistent, and be able to be more in a training environment because then everybody is working toward the same goal," she said.
Three young friends exploring the world ... skating, shopping and just being their creative selves. No wonder they can't wait to take it on the road.
"It's really cool because we will get to experience all these things together," Leah said.