Camel spins and toe loops: Older figure skaters find joy, competition


Gaye Cail took a while to mirror when she turned 60. Part of that reflection included stepping again out onto the ice. 

That was 5 years in the past.   

She lately took dwelling gold and bronze medals at the International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Ottawa, sponsored by the International Skating Union.

Her membership, Capital City Figure Skating in Fredericton, despatched her together with Beth McCluskey-Pelletier to the competition, however Cail mentioned they by no means anticipated to do in addition to they did. McCluskey-Pelletier additionally gained a bronze.

“It was form of icing on the cake that we simply had been capable of come dwelling with medals,” mentioned Cail.

Gaye Cail had long-retired her figure skates, however now tt she is skating once more it has re-ignited her love of the game and need to compete. (Submitted by Gaye Cail)

She mentioned competing on a global stage was overwhelming. when she first bought again into skating, it took her awhile to get snug. Now she’s capable of full toe loops, flips, loop jumps, waltz jumps, sit spins and camel spins. 

McCluskey-Pelletier began figure skating as a child and stopped across the age of 15. Then she picked it up once more when she was 45. Her daughters had been skating by then and adults had been allowed to skate for an hour on the similar time. 

She mentioned at first it was only for exercise, however then she began getting a bit extra aggressive. 

Gaye Cail gained a gold medal and a bronze medal on the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition. (Submitted by Gaye Cail)

“I am going on the ice and I [don’t think] about the rest,” mentioned McCluskey-Pelletier. “It’s a getaway from work, household. So it is simply my time. And as a result of I’m a bit aggressive, I need to do higher and I need to enhance.”

‘My glad place’

Other New Brunswickers additionally competed at the worldwide competition in Ottawa, together with Pat Noddin from Moncton.

“[Noddin] was out on the ice and everyone was form of in tears as a result of right here she’s 86-years-old and she nonetheless loves figure skating,” mentioned Cail. 

Pat Noddin’s good friend, Jan Calnan, skated beside Noddin, holding her hand, through the opening ceremonies in Ottawa. (Skate Canada/Patinage Canada & Scott Grant Photography)

Noddin began figure skating in her late 50s and competed for the primary time at age 60. But she mentioned she had all the time liked skating.

When she was a child and would skate outdoors on the ice, she mentioned she did not know figure skating was a factor. She referred to as it “fancy skating.”

Noddin mentioned typically within the winter it may be laborious to encourage herself to rise up and go to the rink. But she mentioned when she does, “it is similar to floating.” 

Pat Noddin did her program in Austria after recovering from a damaged hip. (Submitted by Pat Noddin)

Noddin has been at massive competitions earlier than, however when she went to Ottawa, she wasn’t anticipating to really compete this time.

Three years in the past Noddin broke her hip. She additionally has again and knee ache that made her unable to do the jumps like she used to. But she signed up for the competition in Ottawa simply to take part within the opening and closing ceremonies and to spend time along with her skating pals. 

During the opening ceremonies, she wasn’t certain she would be capable to compete. Only a few week earlier than the occasion, Noddin was out for a stroll when her knees began to harm so unhealthy she needed to get assist from a stranger to get again to her condo. 

Her good friend Jan Calnan helped her out, providing to skate proper beside her, holding her hand. 

Pat Noddin embraces her good friend Jan Calnan after their skate through the opening ceremonies of the worldwide competition in Ottawa. (Skate Canada/Patinage Canada & Scott Grant Photography)

Along with breaking her hip a couple of years in the past, Noddin additionally has osteoporosis, making her extra timid on the ice. But she mentioned she’s glad to skate when somebody is true there subsequent to her. 

“I’m simply fortunate to be on the market skating and simply doing what I can do,” mentioned Noddin. “It’s nonetheless my glad place.”

No regrets

A number of years in the past when Noddin was just a few months post-operative, she was set to compete in Austria — a competition she had already signed up for earlier than breaking her hip. 

Although she wasn’t capable of do the entire parts she had hoped to carry out, Noddin was grateful she did it.

“I got here off the ice and I used to be actually, actually nervous. I used to be shaking and I used to be scared,” mentioned Noddin. “But I got here dwelling with no regrets.”

Skating household

Noddin mentioned there are such a lot of elements of skating that make it her ardour. One of these issues is her skating household.

She mentioned the grownup skating group is beginning to get acknowledged a bit extra, particularly by Skate Canada.

She’s made pals from England, Germany, France, Australia — and she will get to see them at competitions or meet up with their lives on social media. 

“We do not compete in opposition to each other, we compete with each other,” mentioned Noddin.

“It’s only a actual close-knit group. … I’m actually blessed to have so many pals like that.”


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