Skating with a vengence

By Matt Mitschke

The exciting city of Winnipeg is a faraway adventure for most people. However, at this year’s Canadian Figure Skating Championships, University of Calgary student Ryan Nieckar and his partner Stacey Bridge looked right at home.

Competing in the Junior Dance event, Bridge and Nieckar moved up in the standings throughout the week, which is unusual in the normally static world of figure skating judging. In fact, the skaters managed to ascend consistently through all four events during the week.

Bridge and Nieckar were 16th at the beginning of the compulsory dance event, but moved up a spot to finish the second portion of the dance in 15th place. During the original dance competition they moved up once more to 14th. The team capped off their week with a strong 12th-place finish in the free dance to wind up 14th overall.

Nieckar had mixed emotions about the competition. While the duo did continually get better throughout the week, they had goals that did not become reality.

"We need to bring up our presentation level in our compulsory dances so that we can do better next time," he said. "But it was a good start for our first Canadians together."

Aside from uneasiness about the compulsory dance, Nieckar was pleased with their performance.

"Both the Original Dance and the Free Dance were personal-best performances for us," he mused. "We could not have skated either of them any better. So with that in mind, Stacey and I are extremely pleased with our first Nationals together."

This year’s Nationals gave the team some confidence and served as a great stepping stone to next year’s event in Hamilton.

Now, with the championships out of the way, Nieckar looks forward to the same challenges as the rest of us. More training and three courses at the U of C should keep him more than busy.

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