CORNER BROOK — The Silver Blades Figure Skating Club has hired Mark Scott to take the reigns as head coach.
Scott, originally from Grand Falls-Windsor, is hoping steady leadership will help the sport’s participation numbers bounce back in the city.
He officially assumes the role of head coach today, however the 26-year-old has been in Corner Brook planning for the fall season since July.
Scott will help invigorate Skating Canada’s CanSkate program, starting with kids as young as three years old. He and about a half-dozen other coaches will be working on keeping kids’ interests and sparking a love for skating.
“With music cues, to engage the children, they are having fun and learning at the same time,” Scott said. “With kids you want to keep them moving and keep them active.”
The foundation of CanSkate does not have to evolve solely into figure skating, he said, as the fundamentals of this learn-to-skate program are transferable to other sports, such as hockey and speed skating.
“We hope to develop figure skaters as well as (other) athletes for Corner Brook,” he said.
Additions to the Sliver Blades programming this fall will also allow competitive skaters to get morning ice time for an expanded “edge-turn” class.
The class will focus on foot work, speed and quality skating.
“The sport is moving in a direction where not only the jumps count,” he said. “Where it used to be very technical, the artistry is now a lot more valued.”
Scott hopes the newly added class will develop west coast skaters to compete against skaters from across the country.
The club will start offering an off-ice jumping class to skaters at the junior, intermediate and senior levels.
The hands-on training is a safer approach to improve skaters’ confidence in their jumps when they take their skills on ice, Scott said.
Cross-training fitness programming is also in the works.
Without knowing the specifics, Scott does acknowledge that figure skating participation numbers are down from where they were traditionally in the city.
He said, looking at how things were done in past years, he indicated that cost was probably the biggest deterrent.
Starting this fall, the skating program will be broken into a 10-week fall section, a 10-week winter session and a five-week accelerated spring session — as opposed to a straight 30-week all-in program offered in the past.
“Parents can choose a 10-week block to see if their child likes it. It’s more appealing to try that,” he said. “That way you can keep costs down.”
For the past two years Scott has been coaching at the Conception Bay South Skating Club in a similar role.
He was latecomer to figure skating, at 13 years old, but soon started competing competitively for eight years, including at the national level.
After years of evaluating skating competitions, Scott wanted to be on the ice teaching students.
“Figure skating coaching is something that every single day you are rewarded,” he said. “To assist kids in their development no matter what level they’re at. You can’t help but feel good about that and go home feeling satisfied.”
Registration for the fall block of skating lessons is Wednesday and Thursday at the Pepsi Centre.