AMHERST, N.S. – Being on the ice with some of Canada’s top skaters is something most young skaters can only dream about.
But, five young skaters from Cumberland County got to do just that during the 2019 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Saint John, N.B. from Jan. 14 to 20.
Ten-year-old Phoebe Smith, who is a member of the skating club in Sackville, N.B., joined 11-year-olds Savanah Cobbett, Eve Scott and 14-year-old Olivia Pulsifer from the Amherst Skating Club and Rachel MacDiarmid of Oxford, who skates out of the Mariposa club in Pictou, worked the championships as flower retrievers, ice patchers and worked the medal and opening ceremonies.
“It was awesome,” said Cobbett. “It was fun. I was a little nervous, but I was more excited to meet all the skaters. I didn’t get any autographs, but got a lot of pictures. I’m not going to forget this the rest of my life.”
Scott said meeting the skaters was really special, while Pulsifer, who was a ceremony girl and a patcher.
“For ice patching, after the skaters were done we took a bucket of slush and filled all the holes they made, and they made a lot of holes,” said Pulsifer, who also skates with the Riverview, N.B. club and balances all that with her school work and her duties with the Amherst Youth Town Council. “I also got to participate in the medal ceremonies and got to hold the bronze medals.”
Smith admitted to being a little nervous at first going onto the ice at Harbour Station and said she hoped she would go through the event without falling.
“I had a fall off the ice, but not on the ice, Thank God,” Smith said.
Smith, Cobbett and Scott were flower retrievers. Their job included picking up stuffed animals that were thrown from the stands and taking them and the flowers to the skaters backstage.
Cobbett loved the accreditation they received.
“We were like VIPs,” she laughed. “We could show our pass at the door and go right in while everyone else had to show their tickets.”
Pulsifer, who also worked when the nationals were in Halifax several years ago, said the application information was on the Skate Canada website and she passed the information on to the others.
Since she had done it before, Pulsifer only had to take part in an interview, while the others, who had not done it before, had to audition before an international judge in Saint John.
“They put stuffies in different parts of the ice and they had a certain routine for us to do,” Cobbett said. “We had to skate through the stuffies so we wouldn’t trip over them. From that, they would decide whether we made it or not.”
There were between 15 to 20 flower retrievers from both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and they took turns through the competition that included skaters in the novice, junior and senior men’s and women’s competitions, pairs and dance.
The shifts were several hours in length, which meant a long time in their skates, but nome of them seemed to mind.
“There was too much going on to be bored,” Cobbett said. “I loved being out there and around the other skaters. It was so much fun.”
The top skaters from the Skate Canada event qualified for the worlds as well as the Four Continents.