"It is time that [synchro skaters] have opportunities and visibility"
Nexxice Junior at Canadian Nationals 2019 (Credits: Sean McKinnon)
Skate Canada announced changes to the event calendar a few days ago, starting from the 2022-2023 season. What does that mean for the sport? Interview with Dr. Shae Zukiwsky is a Senior Director, Performance Excellence at Skate Canada
Indeed, for years, Skate Canada has hosted two separate National Championship events, one Nationals for Singles, Pairs, and Ice Dance and another Nationals for Synchronized skating. Following the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China, the Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships will include all skating disciplines, including synchronized skating at the Junior and Senior levels.
Historically, the Synchronized Skating discipline has been treated differently in Canada compared to our other disciplines because it is not an Olympic event. However, our synchronized skating participants are equally as dedicated and committed to their sport as our other skaters. It is time that these participants have opportunities and visibility that are similar to their counterparts in the environments that Skate Canada has influence over. Equality and equitable practices support Skate Canada’s efforts to provide greater inclusivity to the Synchronized Skating discipline and create a stronger infrastructure to support our passionate and active synchronized skating communities.
There have been many individuals in the Canadian skating community who have wanted these changes to occur domestically for some time. It is great that we were able to finally make it happen.
Has the pandemic that is affecting our sport influenced this change?
Without question the pandemic has made us reflect upon where we are as an organization and how we can improve. Skate Canada has been doing considerable work around long-term development in sport and physical activity and this work informed and motivated these changes more than the pandemic.
Again, the Synchronized Skating discipline did not have the same awareness, visibility, or development pathway as the other disciplines in Canada. Skate Canada is making considerable effort to treat the Synchronized Skating discipline the same as we would the other disciplines. The team environment that Synchro offers is special amongst the skating disciplines, and we aim to increase the awareness and understanding of this discipline here in Canada. Additionally, the Synchro discipline offers lengthened opportunities for participation and competition for skaters. These are key elements we want to highlight to support skating for life in the various Synchro communities.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on Synchro this past season here in Canada. This past season our Synchro communities experienced a range of difficulties, struggles and frustration. We are only now beginning to get Synchro teams back on the ice and training across the country. Once we begin to recover from the many pandemic disruptions, we are optimistic about the future of synchronized skating here in Canada. In Canada, we already have established and dedicated Synchro communities and now we are making significant changes to create an infrastructure to further promote, develop and strengthen this exciting discipline of skating.
Thank you Dr. Shae Zukiwsky! More info in the Skate Canada press release.