On March 13, 2020, the rinks closed due to Covid-19 in Canada, in order to limit the spread of the virus and thus protect the health of its inhabitants. What about the situation 5 months later?
After long months of uncertainty, the return on the ice was long overdue and many projects had to be put on hold or cancelled. The coaches had to be creative and resourceful to complement their teams, as well as to keep their athletes fit and motivated. A difficult situation when you have no precise date and you have to live from day to day.
For Canadian skaters, the first ray of hope appeared on May 11, 2020. After two months without skating, Skate Canada lifted its suspension related to the practices of our sport while ensuring that measures would be taken to limit the spread of the virus. However, the plan and the date of reopening varied according to the provinces and the impact of COVID-19.
British Columbia, first to practise with complete teams
The luckiest were the skaters of the Junior team Lower Mainland Synchronized Skating Club, in British Columbia. In fact, they were the first to return on the ice in early June.
Currently, they are the only ones on Canadian territory who are able to train with their full team, while having to maintain a social distance. For their second season, they hoped to participate in their first ISU competition. A potentially paused project.
Credits: Lmssc Junior - 2020
The "cradle of Covid-19"
On the other side of the country, Patinage Québec worked hard during this exceptional period to ensure a return on the ice in the safest conditions. Thus, skating was the first indoor sport in the province to be authorized.
A great victory for the federation when we know that Quebec was the province most affected by the coronavirus (recording half of the cases in Canada), while no ice rink was to reopen before September, at least on the island of Montreal, called "cradle of Covid-19."
Despite everything, June 15, 2020 announced the return on the ice of the Quebec senior teams. Nova Sénior and Les Suprêmes Sénior served as ambassadors for our sport.
Thanks to their compliance with the rules established by Patinage Québec and the decisions of the government, all Quebec teams can now skate.
In Ontario, thanks to a skater from Nexxice Senior, the return on the ice was also made in mid-June for the lucky ones. Their rules, for the safety of skaters, are similar to those of Quebec:
- Skaters cannot be more than 10 on the ice, - A social distancing must be maintained, so physical contact is still prohibited, - Gloves are compulsory as well as wearing a mask within the ice rink. (The mask is removed by the skater once on the ice, and must be put on before getting out of the ice)
Safety remains the priority, but good compliance with the rules suggests a good development of the situation for the teams.
Video showing the measures taken by Patinage Québec and transmitted to all clubs to ensure the safe resumption of skating within the Province:
How did the teams manage the confinement period?
For many, the isolation period began with a break. Certainly like a forced vacation, but well deserved after this season. Despite everything, the athletes quickly felt the need to refind a training routine.
For two months, the coaches, therefore, used the "Zoom" application, which allows them to organize videoconferences. Thus, the skaters could begin to train together in a virtual way, by following dance lessons, physical preparation but also mental.
For some teams, this system also allows them to stay connected with their foreign skaters who can't return to Canadian territory at the moment.
The priorities of Skate Canada and its federations are to keep the rinks open while doing everything possible to allow athletes to skate safely and thus avoid the spread of COVID-19.
If the situation continues to improve, it may be that a relaxation of the rules is best envisaged in the coming days, if not in the coming weeks. Thus, the 2020-2021 season can begin more officially in Canada.