"Being able to skate for the pure joy of skating has ignited a fire in us"


Gold Ice Novice competing at Winterfest in January 2020. (Credits: Danielle Earl Photography) 

Gold Ice has a long history of producing championship synchronized skating teams. Representing Skate Canada Brampton-Chinguacousy, all skaters come from all across the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, and are trained by three young and talented coaches.

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Gold Ice are teams to know in the world of synchronized skating. In recent years, the Junior team has represented Canada in international competitions, while the Novice team was crowned Canadian champion in 2020.

Gold Ice was founded in 1999 under the direction of Wendy Coates. "Over the years,  Gold Ice has developed a reputation of producing successful teams including several national and world medals," said Jessica Brown, Gold Ice head coach.

Three passionate coaches
All Gold Ice teams are coached by this talented trio: Ashely Greenhalgh, Andrea Nesbitt, and Jessica Brown.

"We love working together and collaborating to get the most out of teams and skaters. Our program is unique because we pride ourselves on not only developing strong basic skating skills and fundamentals, but we also create an environment the promotes community, support, and diversity," Jessica Brown continued.

Coaches Ashley Greenhalgh, Jessica Brown and Andrea Nesbitt. (Credits: Sean McKinnon)

The Canadian province of Ontario is at the moment in another shutdown phase, which means no training for any youth sports.

"Junior and Senior athletes in the singles, pairs and ice dance disciplines are able to continue training as they are considered on the “Olympic pathway” and therefore are classified as elite athletes. Unfortunately, as synchronized skating is not yet an Olympic discipline, our skaters do not qualify for this exemption.

Information and regulations are changing frequently so we continue to stay in contact with our municipal and provincial government and are hopeful that we will be able to be back training on the ice again soon. As with last season, we know that we will be able to pivot and adjust as required in order to ensure our skaters are trained and prepared for whatever this competitive season will bring!" explained Andrea Nesbitt who has been coaching with Gold Ice for 13 seasons now. 

The hardest part of the pandemic is the uncertainty that comes with this virus, explained the coaches. "Updates and regulations from our government are being adjusted so frequently it often creates a whirlwind of emotions based on the news you are receiving that day. It’s been difficult at times to manage the skaters, coaches, and parents' emotions, goals, and expectations when the reality of training properly, competing and skating synchro elements attached have not been an option.

We have witnessed fatigue and drop in motivation from our stakeholders, however, Gold Ice operates as a family and support system so our community has helped its membership push through these trying times while standing by one another," said Jessica.

New ways to train
"This unique and very different season has been filled with many highs and lows. We have learned to be patient, trust, and furthermore, pivot/adapt on the fly," said Jessica.

Indeed, Gold Ice teams have found new ways to train their skaters off the ice via Zoom by incorporating a variety of different off-ice classes that focus on strength, flexibility, and movement. "With limited ice time and our teams not being able to train as a whole, we have used this past year to focus on turn quality, stroking, and building our skaters' individual skating skill-set. While this has been refreshing, we are very much looking forward to the day we can skate on arms again, practice as a team, and compete!"

Gold Ice Cheering section at the 2020 Winterfest Competition (Credits: Danielle Earl Photography) 

"Overall, this past year has taught us to be grateful for and take advantage of every training opportunity that we have," added Andrea Nesbitt. For her, this challenging season has also taught them how to be creative with how to train and always "thinking outside the box".

According to Gold Ice coaches, training in smaller groups at various points in the season turned out to be an interesting and rewarding surprise. "It was a great way to accelerate the training for our new team members, and we were able to focus a lot more on individual skating technique. Moving our off-ice training into the virtual space opened up many doors for being able to work with various instructors from around Canada and the world!

Rediscover the true passions
"And finally, having the opportunity to compete in the first virtual synchronized skating competition, Porter Classic, was a rewarding and unique experience for our skaters. We would love to see this side of competitions continue in the future as well, as it is a great way to obtain feedback from an international panel of officials.

In the end, we are grateful for the opportunity this season provided to rediscover our true passions for the sport. Being able to skate for the pure joy of skating has ignited a fire in us. Our athletes are more determined and motivated than ever, and we are feeling optimistic and hopeful for the future," said Andrea Nesbitt.

Gold Ice Novice practicing in 2019. (Credits: Sean McKinnon)

Recently Gold Ice celebrated 20 years and is looking forward to many more years of success and growth. "This season our intentions are to field 8 teams that range from the grassroot level through to active for life," concluded Jessica Brown. 

Learn more about Gold Ice and how they are preparing for next season in a few days on Jura Synchro! Stay tuned!