Coquitlam figure skater eager for debut
Imagine going out for dinner and having a Canadian Olympian approach your table and take your order.
“I’ve been waitressing for a while, just to make some extra money,” figure skater Larkyn Austman said recently, discussing her part-time gig at the Coquitlam location for the Joey Restaurants group.
“People starting to know who I am is very different for me. I’ll be serving and I’ll introduce myself and my name is pretty unique and I’ve been getting lately a lot of ‘Do you figure skate?’
“I’ve also been getting a lot of ‘Hey, shouldn’t you be training?’ It’ll be 10:30 on a Saturday night and people will say that. I get it. They’re just trying to be helpful.”
It is part of what makes the 19-year-old Austman easy to cheer for at the Pyeongchang Olympics. She left for South Korea on Wednesday.
She won the national junior women’s title at 14. A little over a year later, she went to Colorado Springs on her own to train under Christy Krall, a celebrated American coach. She was living with a family, but taking care of her own cooking and taking school by correspondence. It ended up being too much for her, and she quit skating for a spell.
She eventually reunited with her old Coquitlam Skating Club. She finished sixth at the nationals two years ago and fourth last year. Canada qualified for three spots in women’s skating in Pyeongchang, and Austman placed third at the nationals, held at UBC last month.
“I’ve been skating really well and I don’t have any pressure, because it’s my first Olympics and I’m going in as the third spot and no one really expected me to even be there,” Austman said.
“I want to do my best, but it’s not about beating any particular person. It’s just about skating my best and seeing where that puts me. I’ve never even skated at a world championships, so I don’t know where I sit competing against these kinds of ladies.
“I can’t get caught up in everything else that’s happening. I need to keep my training the same as I’ve been doing. It’s going to be a little bit tougher, because we won’t have as much ice time while we are there. I need to get in the work that I need and then be done.”
A going-away party was held in Austman’s honour on Monday night that attracted more than 250 supporters, including six of her teachers from her time at Ranch Park Elementary, as well a principal from her high school, Dr. Charles Best Secondary.
Patrick Chan, 27, skated with the CSC competitors at their Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex digs in preparation for the nationals and Austman said it was helpful to watch the practice habits of the 2014 Olympic silver medallist and three-time world champion.
Austman had been a flower retriever at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and played an anonymous aspiring skater in a Procter and Gamble “Thank You Mom” TV commercial tied to Sochi 2014.
What’s more, she’ll turn 20 on Feb. 22. The day before, it’s the women’s short program in Pyeongchang. The day after, it’s the long program.