INNISFAIL – Excelling in any sport takes time, dedication and hard work.
For 12-year-old Claira Sinclair of Innisfail, that hard work earned her a gold medal at the Central Alberta Open skating competition in Sylvan Lake Feb. 11.
“I was really surprised. I didn’t think I’d get gold,” said Sinclair.
She earned top spot after competing against seven other participants at the star four level. It is her first gold medal at this level this year.
The competition was open to skaters from all over Alberta, aged 13 and under. A total of 900 skaters in all levels competed in the Central Alberta Open and came from around the province, including Calgary, Edmonton, St. Albert and Banff.
Sinclair noted some of the elements included in her two-minute routine.
“There were two Axels, a loop combination, a Lutz, and a flip,” she said. “There were two spins — a camel sit combination (back) spin and a regular back spin.”
Sinclair’s coach Nicole Sabasch said it takes a combination of grace under pressure, technique, skill and artistic impression to win a gold medal.
“Her Axel became consistent. She’s worked so hard, I’m so proud of her,” said Sabasch. “I’m proud of all of our skaters that go out there and give it their all and really work hard.
“At this level you need the Axel,” said Sabasch. “That’s a very big wall for a lot of our skaters to get over. She landed two of them.”
The Axel jump is often a deal breaker she added.
“This sport doesn’t boil down to minutes, it boils down to seconds,” explained Sabasch. “It boils down to that jump.”
Sinclair has now competed at this level for three years and has been skating for eight years.
She pointed out the important role her warm-up plays on the ice and noted the positive development and progress she’s made as a skater over the past several years.
“I visualized my solo because I thought I was going to forget it. I ran through (my warm-up) and it helped a lot,” said Sinclair.
“My eight years of practice really helped a lot. I’m doing a lot of different spins and I’m doing double jumps.
“I feel a lot more confident,” Sinclair concluded.
Nicole Sabasch, coach
“At this level you need the Axel. That’s a very big wall for a lot of our skaters to get over. She landed two of them.”