Ice Carnival a big hit for Port McNeill

Port McNeill's ice carnival Gliding Through Time was another smashing success story for the North Island club.

The Port McNeill Figure Skating Club’s biennial Ice Carnival ‘Gliding Through Time’, held from Feb. 25 to Feb. 27 at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill, was another smashing success story for the North Island.

“The Attendance was very good. We always just about sell out Saturday nights and our Friday’s are always good as well,” said Professional Figure Skating Coach Elizabeth Kine, who’s certified under Skate Canada. “It’s an incredible amount of work to put on this kind of production. The only way it can be done is with the whole club helping out, and the whole North Island community coming out to watch to make it worthwhile.”

The Port McNeill Figure Skating Club, which has been around since 1977, almost 40 years now, originally started out with a group of figure skaters “that didn’t know how to skate, so we had to develop them from the ground up,” said Kine.

As of 2016, they now have about 70 dedicated students, all ranging in different age groups and stages of development. When the club first opened, Zaida Bartlett was the professional figure skating coach in charge, and Kine, who first taught figure skating in Port Hardy, soon joined in the 1978-1979 season when Bartlett left to start her family.

The club has grown and evolved over the years, and is now “well known across B.C. Our learn to skate program (Can Skate) was recognized as one of 50 in Canada that puts on a great program. Lots of gold medals have come out of this club,” said Kine. “We also do two competitions a year, and we’ve always had lots of success when competing.”

The figure skating club’s first ever Ice Carnival was held on March 10, 1979, 38 years ago, where the theme was ‘Come Fly With Us’, and as the years have passed on by, 19 Ice Carnivals later to be precise, Kine’s passion and joy for teaching the community’s youth is still the same as it was when she first started. “I love to see the kids progress, from a non-skater right through,” said Kine. “I get my biggest thrill when they finish skating and they come back to the club and help out. They always give back. “

The ‘Gliding Through Time’ Ice Carnival featured some of their most innovative costumes and choreography yet, covering different decades from the 1920’s all the way through to the 2000’s. “We have costume parents that help with decorations, getting the raffle baskets ready, designing the costumes and getting them together,” added Kine, stating that for probably the last six years, “Hanna Ray Rosback has been majorly involved with the choosing of the music, helping the moms with their costumes. She comes home on her Christmas break and she actually goes on the ice and helps with the choreographing of the kids solos.”

Kine’s other assistant, Melanie Weber, who’s a certified Skate Canada Coach and has been a member of the club since the age of 10, also helped Kine with all of the choreography, and Cliff Rosback was once again handling the commentary for his 9th carnival in a row, which he almost wasn’t going to do this year due to a double booking issue, but “all of our senior skaters wrote him a letter,” said Kine. The letter stated that ‘it’ll never be carnival unless you do the commentating’, so he knew he had to come back for another year behind the mic.

‘Gliding Through Time’ was very well received by the community, as far as the organization and the production itself, “I’ve had nothing but fabulous comments on it. Our motto is if we’re going to do a job, we’re going to do it well or it’s not worth doing,” said Kine, adding that the club always aims to “put on as professional a show as we can.”

After so many seasons of teaching young figure skaters and inspiring them to reach their goals and achieve their dreams, Kine pointed out that it has never been about her. “I’m only here because of the support I get from our town, our members, our past executives, our past skaters who come home and help with the young kids. It’s really an incredible club atmosphere,” adding that to see the little kids “come off the ice and ask ‘can we do it again?’ after doing three straight shows, that’s what it’s all about to me.”

The Port McNeill Figure Skating Club’s next Ice Carnival will be in 2018 at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill, and the North Island Gazette staff will make sure to be there, front row and centre.