Rusty Edges sharpen skills to win Bronze
Off the ice the 17 women that make up the Trinity Placentia Synchronized Masters Skating Team couldn’t be more different from each other.
Some are well-established career women, others are just starting out, some are young and bubbly and others are quiet, serious types. Their ages range from 20 years to 50-something.
While the women appear to have little in common, when they step out on the ice, they become one and have one common goal - to skate well. On Valentine’s Day that’s exactly what they did.
The team, The Rusty Edges under the direction of coach Dana Welsh-Smith, finished third at the Provincial Synchronized Skating Competition held Feb. 13-14 in Corner Brook.
“For a group of skaters that had only had a few practices, they did extremely well,” says Smith.“I’m very proud of them.”
The team, sporting black leotards and Newfoundland tartan vests, glided across the ice to several Newfoundland songs including Sonny’s Dream and Greg Foggy Day. However they weren’t too happy about their performance
“We didn’t think we did too well. We left the ice disappointed,” says Wendy Perry-Granter of Blaketown, one of the performers.“This was our first competition and we were really nervous. We separated when we shouldn’t have during the routine and we couldn’t get back in place afterward. As soon as we were finished we took off our skates and costumes and went upstairs to wait until the closing ceremony was over.”
While they claim to have had a little trouble during the performance, they aced the practice routine and that may have helped their overall score.
“The girls (synchronized skating team) were all saying how well we did, but we didn’t agree,” says Perry-Granter.“When the scores were posted we didn’t even bother to go look. But they did, and when they saw we had won the Bronze medal they started jumping around and yelling. It was pret- ty exciting, you wouldn’t know but we had won the Olympics.We were just like teenagers. What a feeling when those medals were placed around our necks.”
Not a bad accomplishment, especially for a team that basically started on a whim.
“Most of the members are moms of Canskate and Starskate figure skaters on the Trinity Placentia Flames and Explosives skating club, and would be accompanying their daughters to Corner Brook for the competition. So I said: why not put a ladies synchronized team together and compete as well?” says Smith. “They already had a little experience, because over the past few years they’ve been doing a short, justfor-fun skating performance during our annual Ice Show.They were a little hesitant at first, but after some thought decided to go for it.”
Under skating rules, members of the Masters Synchronized team must be non-competitive skaters and half of them must over 35 years old.
“I think that’s what qualified me,” laughs Perry-Granter who grew up skating on a pond and not in a stadium.“When some of the members first asked me, the thought crossed my mind that maybe they were a little impressed with my skating ability. But nope, that wasn’t it at all! I think it was more about my age, the fact that I’m 42 and they needed women of my age to make up the team.”
Progressed in skill
Smith, who has been skating since she was five years old, volunteered to coach them.
“She is just fantastic and fortunately for us, blessed with lots of patience,” Perry-Granter points out.“She definitely had her work cut out for her.”
The former competitive skater ( Old Shop, Trinity Bay) and cocoach of the Trinity Placentia Canskate and Star Skate admits coaching the women was “ a bit different” than coaching kids.
“They’re a unique group, that’s for sure,” Smith says. “ Some of them had been in figure skating in their younger years and some could hardly skate at all. Some took it very seriously and others were like - ah who cares? And of course the choreography was something else. For instance when working with the girls synchronized team, if I said turn right - well they knew exactly what to do, where to turn and how to do it. But when I gave that direction to the women, the first thing they did was stop and ask: what right? Yours or mine, or do you mean right shoulder or right foot? It was quite a laugh on times.
“Anyway I quickly realized we had to start right from scratch. That’s what we did and they progressed in skill like you wouldn’t believe. It was such a learning curve for all of us and well worth the effort.”
Outside of coaching, Smith works as a speech language pathologist with the Vista Region of the Eastern School District.
“She has a husband (Greg) and has a three-year-old son (Dawson) and coaching our team meant a little less time with them,” says Perry-Granter. “We realize it increased her workload. We’re grateful she agreed to do it though. She put together such a good routine; she’s so polished in that area. I think it gave us an edge and definitely added to our score.”
Smith did the choreography and skating routines for the Rusty Edges, Individual Girls Solo and Ice Show in the car while driving from home (Norman’s Cove) to work each day in Clarenville. She then e-mailed the steps for the various elements to members of the Rusty Edges. Some of the women, like PerryGranter, practised the routine from home - in wool socks on the hardwood flooring in her living room.
“We only had about six prac- tices at the stadium so my floor became the ice,” she says.“It started out as just being fun, but I also wanted to do a good job and in order to do that I had to practise and if I couldn’t be on the ice, my floor had to do.”
But practise makes perfect and aside from wanting to skate well there were other reasons why it was important for members of the Rusty Edges to keep their balance. Just after they started skating four of the women on the team got pregnant.
“At one point during a practice I had two women on each side of me who were pregnant,” chuckles Perry-Granter. “All I could think was: oh my goodness I can’t fall because if I do, I am going knock them down with me. Talk about pressure.”
However team member Karen George, who fell during practise and broke her wrist, was the only one who incurred an injury.
Never too old
Perry-Granter, a teacher at Acreman Elementary in Greens Harbour says being part of the synchronized skating team, taught her that she is never too old to learn something new.
“It wasn’t so much about how to keep my balance while turning on skates. It was more about the challenge - of trying and being able to do something new at this point in my life,” she says. “That was a great feeling. I mean at my age, nothing is new anymore. You do the same things day after day and you often adopt the attitude that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you’re never too old to learn and there’s a feeling of accomplishment that goes along with learning something new. It makes you glad you tried.”
With a Bronze medal under their belts, the Rusty Edges are not thinking of hanging up their skates anytime soon. The sport has grown on them.
“As hockey moms or moms of figure skaters it has given us an appreciation for what it is we ask our children to do in competitive sports,” says Perry-Granter. “It takes courage to go out there on that ice and perform and compete and it also takes a tremendous amount of dedication. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”
Other members of the team include Stephanie Power, Cindy Hefford, Karen Pinsent, Samantha Newhook, Brenda Black, Heather Mercer, Wendy Granter, Colleen Power, Ann Mercer, Lorrie King, Andrea Burry, Karen George, Mary Harris, Nancy Jackson, Kathy Reid, Courtney Murphy, and Manager Andrea Dominie.
IN SYNC - Seventeen members of the Trinity Placentia Rusty Edges Synchronized Skating Team practise their skating routine. The team is coached by Dana Welsh-Smith, a former competitive skater, who along with Karen Pinsent, also coaches the Trinity Placentia Canskate and Can Star Skating clubs.
THIRD PLACE WINNERS - Members of the Trinity Placentia Rusty Edges synchronized skating team have only been performing together for a few months, but have already proved they are force to be reckoned with. The women, whose ages range from 20 to 50, captured the Bronze medal during the provincial synchronized skating competition Feb. 13-14 in Corner Brook.