The harmonious scratch of skates against the ice, elaborate and colourful dresses, and all kinds of music from pop to jazz were defining features of Winterfest this past weekend.
Held at the Hershey Center in Mississauga between Friday and Sunday, Winterfest is a national synchronized skating competition for all ages. The event also served as the qualifier for junior level teams that will compete in the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships. Two teams from Quebec, Les Supremes and Les Pirouettes, qualified.
Sandra Blitz, the co-chair of the Competition Committee, said plans for Winterfest have been in the works since September. According to Blitz, Winterfest hosted 104 teams with 1700 skaters from across Canada, making it “the largest synchronized figure skating competition in Canada.”
Veronica Macintosh, 39, has been skating since the age of seven. She has been skating for the Lower Mainland Synchronized Skating Club in British Columbia for three years.
“You know how some people like to run? And it clears their head. Some people like to exercise.” said Macintosh, “I like to skate because it’s just where my comfort zone is. Like, the world feels normal on the ice.”
Macintosh said competitions in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia give her the opportunity to travel. In the case of Winterfest, it even provided the opportunity to visit family.
Macintosh’s sister, Rocio Leitmann, 38, lives in Ajax, Ontario and said these skating events can be a family reunion. Leitmann started skating with her sister when they were kids, but decided to stop in high school to focus on her studies. She still, however, enjoys watching major skating events.
“I like watching it live,” said Leitmann, “You get more flavour from the team. You sort of get to see nuances that you wouldn’t see if it was telecast.”