By Steve Hubrecht

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The Columbia Valley Skating Club will soon be back on the ice. 

This skating season promises to be a big one for the club, as it welcomes a pair of new coaches and gets ready to host the East Kootenay Invitational competition for the first time in several years.

The East Kootenay Invitational is a huge deal, involving some 700 skaters participating in 400 different events. It will be held in Invermere this coming January 19 to 21. 

“It’s a major event, and a major fundraiser,” said Columbia Valley Skating Club coach Marni Kreutzer, adding the last time the East Kootenay Invitational was in Invermere was back in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The five-year gap is more to do with the fact that several skate clubs across the East Kootenay take turns putting on the Invitational, since doing so does help the host club raise quite a bit of funding.

“This year it’s our turn to do it, and we are really excited,” Kruetzer told the Pioneer.

The club has swelled the ranks of its coach, with two of its older skaters (Ocea Dubray and Kayla Wolfenden) having recently acquired their coaching certification. Both will continue to skate with the club (Wolfenden is in her final year, Dubray in her second last year) while also coaching. This brings the number of coaches with the Columbia Valley Skating Club to five.

The club is offering all its usual programs for kids and teens once again: Pre-CanSkate (for 3 and 4 year olds), CanSkate, StarSkate (for figure skaters) and CanPower Skate (for skills development for hockey and ringette players). It will also run another edition of its adult and teen skate program. That program was brand new last year, and proved so popular that it’s being expanded this season to accommodate up to 20 people.

“There is a lot of interest, so we are giving it (the adults skate program) more ice too,” said Kreutzer, adding the program is for anyone wanting “learn to skate, return to skate, or continue to skate.” She added this includes former figure skaters wanting to get back on the ice for the first time in a long time, exchange students who have never skated before, grandparents who want to be able to keep up with their grandkids on the ice, and an older lady who hasn’t skated in 40 years but who has set a goal of landing a flip.

“It’s very diverse,” said Kruetzer. “The Whiteway (Lake Windermere’s outdoor ice skating trail) is a big driver of the adult program. It’s (the program) a great opportunity to develop some strong skating skills before the Whiteway opens.”

The skate club’s programs will begin in Invermere on Wednesday, Oct. 11, with the club’s annual Bring-A-Friend Day at the Eddie Mountain Arena from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. This event allows skaters to bring a friend to try the program for a day for free. “It’s so people can come and try the skate program before they register for them,” said Kreutzer.

The club will once again run programs (both CanSkate and CanPower) in Canal Flats this year, starting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, as well as at Frank’s Rink (which is outdoors) in Edgewater beginning in January. And, of course, there will be a year-end Ice Show in March. The exact date of the show is yet to be determined, but a ‘Musical Legends’ theme for the show has already been chosen.

(Photo submitted)