Fig­ure skat­ing sis­ters bring­ing home medals

Laura and Ju­lia Keefe claimed gold, sil­ver in same event at provin­cials

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Ju­lia and Laura Keefe are two fig­ure skat­ing sis­ters from Bay Roberts. To­gether, they grace the ice with their skills on skates and had ma­jor suc­cess at the re­cent Skate New­found­land and Labrador Pro­vin­cial Cham­pi­onships.

Of course, you al­ways want to do well your­self, but we want each other to do well, so that was re­ally nice. Laura Keefe

BAY ROBERTS, NL — It feels pretty nat­u­ral for sis­ters Ju­lia and Laura Keefe of Bay Roberts to spend time on an ice sur­face. For the last dozen-or-so years, it’s been part of their reg­u­lar rou­tine.

“I liked watch­ing peo­ple skate on TV and I was like, ‘Oh, well I want to do that when I get older,’” Laura, the el­dest of the two sis­ters at 16 years of age, ex­plained.

“I re­ally like the per­for­mance aspect of ev­ery­thing,” added Ju­lia.

Ju­lia is 14, and given the twoyear age gap and their unique fig­ure skat­ing tal­ents, the Keefe sis­ters have not found them­selves com­pet­ing against each other. But that all changed at this year’s Skate New­found­land and Labrador Pro­vin­cial Cham­pi­onships, where Ju­lia and Laura found them­selves go­ing head-to-head in the Sil­ver In­ter­pre­tive event.

“I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly fond of hav­ing both of them in the same cat­e­gory,” ad­mit­ted their mother, Sher­rie Keefe. “I think I was prob­a­bly stressed more than they were, be­cause ob­vi­ously I wanted both of them to do well and do their best. Skat­ing is stress­ful any­way to watch.”

Re­mark­ably, the Keefe girls claimed the gold and sil­ver medals in the event, a first-time oc­cur­rence for the pair. At one point the judges mis­tak­enly listed Ju­lia as the first-place fin­isher (Laura had skated be­fore her), but this was quickly cor­rected, giv­ing Laura gold and Ju­lia sil­ver.

“All year we were plac­ing third or fourth, and we had some other com­peti­tors there, but once we fig­ured out that we had won the cat­e­gory, it was re­ally ex­cit­ing,” Ju­lia said. “Even though I was sec­ond, it was still OK, be­cause we’d both got­ten per­sonal-best scores.”

“Of course, you al­ways want to do well your­self, but we want each other to do well, so that was re­ally nice,” added Laura.

Be­ing sis­ters does not amp up the sense of com­pet­i­tive­ness be­tween the two, they said. This may come from the fact they’re both very dif­fer­ent skaters when it comes to pre­sen­ta­tion. As Laura sees it, her younger sis­ter is more in­clined to put on a show with her skat­ing, whereas Laura at­tempts to fo­cus on the artis­tic el­e­ments of a per­for­mance.

“I’m more like a Broad­way sort of style of a per­for­mance as op­posed to artis­tic, grace­ful per­for­mance,” Ju­lia ad­mit­ted.

Out­side of skat­ing and school, the Keefe sis­ters have plenty on their plate, as both girls take dance and mu­sic les­sons. Ear­lier this year, Laura was named an Ed­u­ca­tion First Cana­dian Youth Am­bas­sador. Later this month, she’s sched­uled to join 29 stu­dents from across the coun­try on a cul­tural ex­change trip to Ecuador in South Amer­ica.

Laura still has a busy com­pe­ti­tion sched­ule ahead of her. This week she’ll skate at the New­found­land and Labrador Win­ter Games in Deer Lake. Then in April, Laura will travel to Nova Sco­tia and rep­re­sent Team NL at the At­lantic Skat­ing Cham­pi­onships.

Sher­rie Keefe can’t skate her­self, but her girls took a real shin­ing to the ice right from the start. It’s since be­come a fam­ily pas­sion.

“I didn’t know a lot about skat­ing, but it’s just one of those things where the girls got in­volved and they went to a com­pe­ti­tion, loved it and did well, and then you go, ‘Well, let’s go to an off-sea­son school. Let’s skate in the sum­mer. Let’s skate in the spring and fall.’ Sem­i­nars and all that,” said the mother, who has served in a va­ri­ety of roles over the years with the Con­cep­tion Bay North Skat­ing Club.

Be­yond com­pe­ti­tions, Laura gives back to her home club in Bay Roberts as a coach, work­ing with kids just get­ting used to the ice through the CanSkate pro­gram.

“I re­ally like skat­ing, so if I’m still coach­ing, that means I’m still on the ice, which is awe­some,” she said.

Coach­ing also in­ter­ests Ju­lia, who plans to one day ob­tain the nec­es­sary cred­its to do so.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ju­lia, left, and Laura Keefe fin­ished sec­ond and first re­spec­tively in the Sil­ver In­ter­pre­tive cat­e­gory at the pro­vin­cial fig­ure skat­ing cham­pi­onships last month.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Sis­ters Ju­lia, left, and Laura Keefe of Bay Roberts have both been skat­ing for about a dozen years.

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