A brother and sister figure skating duo who train in Labrador City are hoping to make their mark as they prepare for the next milestone in their careers: skating on the national stage at the Canada Games.
James and Norah Levesque-Morrisette live in Fermont, Quebec, but have made the Polaris Figure Skating Club in Labrador a big part of their skating career. While they've represented both Labrador and Quebec at various competitions in the past, they will now compete at the Canada Winter Games for Team Newfoundland and Labrador.
While the Canada Games run from Feb. 15 to March 2 in Red Deer/Central Alberta, the siblings will have to wait until the second week of the competition for the figure skating events to get underway.
Both siblings started skating at the age of three. James is now 17, while Norah is 15.
“I started skating, freestyle (single skating with required elements), as did Norah, but our older sister Sarah encouraged us to try dance,” said James. "We did and it worked for both of us.”
Since then, the brother and sister have pursued both dance and freestyle, something they say works well together, adding, "both have elements that complement each other and help us with each discipline."
When asked, though, both agree that dance is their favourite of the two styles.
Both Norah and James are on the ice about six days a week, with the dance training requiring them to spend close to two hours each day in training.
Passion for skating
Their desire to improve means spending summers in Montreal where they train with coaches and develop new programs.
That sometimes choose the music and they have a connection in Montreal with a woman who makes their costumes.
Sometimes brothers and sisters don’t always see eye to eye, and that's true even for these skating siblings. Norah and James laughed when asked if they disagree with the choice of music or a program on occasion, confirming that disagreements happen occasionally, but add that it's still a lot of fun.
"We do agree eventually, but often with advice from our sister Sarah," they add.
“After Montreal, we spend a lot of time here practicing on our own for dance," James explains, but Norah says when Sarah comes to help, she is like a new pair of eyes that helps them to see what they may miss as they practice alone.
For the freestyle skating, they have the guidance of coach Alice Dobbin of Labrador City, who they say has been a tremendous help to them.
Ready to skate
As the two get ready for the Canada Winter Games, they feel well prepared to take on the competition. Both have taken part in the Skate Canada Challenge for the last couple of years and have also been involved in Skate NL competitions, the Newfoundland Winter Games and have skated at numerous competitions in Atlantic Canada and Quebec as well.
Both young athletes say they can see how past competitions have improved their skating.
They are excited and looking forward to being a part of Team NL at the Canada Winter Games. They also acknowledge the support they’ve received from the communities, Skate NL, their family and sponsors.
Their father, Kevin, adds that he is proud of them while acknowledging the support they have received. He says the hard work of the duo is paying off, not just in the skating but in their personal development as well.
The Canada Winter Games site will have streaming of many of the events at CanadaGames.ca
Did you know?
Both skaters are dancing in the pre-novice category. Their event begins with a day of warm-ups, then on the second day, Feb. 25, the pre-novice pattern dance event will be held, with the final set for 1 p.m. in Alberta. In this competition, all participants will be required to complete all of the required music and dances: Starlight and Blues.
The pre-novice events will follow on Feb. 27.