The Canskate Program is the second program of the Eckville Figure Skating Club. Control is one of the three main tenants - which focuses on skating backwards.

The Canskate Program is the second program of the Eckville Figure Skating Club. Control is one of the three main tenants - which focuses on skating backwards.

Eckville Figure Skating Club continues long commitment to ice sport

One of the oldest skating clubs in Alberta is contiuing to groom the Canadian skaters of tomorrow.

One of the oldest skating clubs in Alberta is contiuing to groom the Canadian skaters of tomorrow.

Every Tuesday and Friday, skaters as young as preschool right up to teenagers join together at the Eckville Arena to learn the art form of skating from qualified figure skating coaches like Nikki Bystrom who was teaching the Canskate program on January 24.

“This is our Canskate Program, which is Skate Canada’s Learn to Skate Program,” she said. “Whether you are going to go into ringette, hockey or speed skating it teaches skating basics. It has badges, ribbons and incentives as you move through different skills like balance, control and agility.”

According to Bystom, balance is learning how to stand and glide on skates; control is learning mostly how to skate backwards; and agility is learning how to turn and jump on skates.

“All these skills are transferable to different sports,” she added.

Canskate is the second level of progression for the Eckville Figure Skating Club, with Learn to Skate for preschool students being the first and Starskate for advanced skaters being the third.

“It works because the older kids are working on the next progression,” she said. “The lower leveled kids are doing a two-foot glide, while the older kids are doing a two foot to one foot glide, the next group are doing a one foot glide and then next group is doing a one foot glide backwards. When they are done these it moves right into the next program which is much more figure skating oriented.”

The program also works because of the contributions of older students who come back to help Bystrom with the younger levels as program assistants.

“I am super fortunate here because I have a lot of program assistants who have a lot of experience,” Bystrom said. “Some clubs are not as fortunate to have that, but my girls have done this for a long time and are very competent. We have a really good ratio of instructors to students which really helps.”

The tradition of strong skaters in Eckville is indicitive of a strong commitment from the Eckville Figure Skating Club.

“This Clubhouse is a really special atmosphere,” Bystrom said. “My older kids have supper together and it is a very friendly, family atmosphere.”

This family atmosphere makes it easy to pass on a distinctly Canadian skill to others.

“This is Canadian and every Canadian has to learn how to skate bit of a bias,” Bystrom said. “It is a great thing to do in the winter and we have some amazing outdoor rinks.”

If you would like to get involved with the Eckville Skating Club you can log on to eckvillefigureskatingclub.weebly.com.

“It is not always about making it to the NHL or being a National Figure Skating Champion,” Bystrom said. “It is a life long thing that everyone can be involved with.”

reporter@eckvilleecho.com