Keelee Gingrich and Davin Portz

Keelee Gingrich and Davin Portz

Skating Club celebrates 60 years

Skating in Cranbrook has a long history — as long as the town’s itself — and this history will be marked at a special show next week.

Skating in Cranbrook has a long history — as long as the town’s itself — and this history will be marked at a special show coming up next week.

The Cranbrook Skating Club is celebrating the moment when it affiliated itself with Skate Canada, the national skating body.

On Saturday, March 1, the 150 members of the Cranbrook club will be joined by skaters from Kimberley, Invermere, Elkford and Fernie. Almost 200 skaters from around the region will take part in a magnificent ice show — held at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

Joining them will be two rising stars in the skating world — Keelee Gingrich and Davin Portz,  the 2014 Novice Pairs Champions of Canada, recently crowned at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

The theme is “Celebrating the Decades,” and the show will feature music and costumes from the 1950s onward.

It’s estimated that more than 10,000 children have learned to skate through the Cranbrook Skating Club over the past 60 years. Some have gone on to take up figure skating (now more properly known as artistic skating), some to hockey, some to speedskating, and many just have the skill for lifelong enjoyment and exercise.

Skaters, of course, have been taking to the ice in Cranbrook since always. And the local culture has always featured an ice show.

Before 1954, these shows were largely an impetus of the Gyro Club in the early days. The club would “import” an ice show, from Calgary or Spokane, and a few local skaters would get a chance to take the ice.

Pat MacDonald (née Brown), who skated in the 1940s and 1950s, and was one of the first club professional instructors in the later 1950s, recalled those days.

“When I think of the efforts of local people, I think of the Gyro Club mainly, and other service clubs — and specifically Mr. James Davidson, who directed the early carnivals, and the ticket sales that raised the funds to finance the arena and the artificial ice.”

The arrival of artificial ice in 1951 was a watershed moment for Cranbrook skating. It made for a longer season, more skaters and better skating. But three years later, 1954, was a key year for the club as it affilitated with Skate Canada, and joined the wider world.

“The Cranbrook Skating Club is one of the oldest clubs in Canada, in terms of affilitation with Skate Canada,” said Debbie Mandryk, one of the organizers of the upcoming show.

The affiliation was important. It meant the club, its skaters, coaches and judges subscribed to certain standards of conduct, certification and excellence. Skate Canada’s programs — like its Can Skate teaching program — are world leaders, and have been adapted around the globe.

It is likely that the first Cranbrook designated skating (and curling) surface was in what is now Rotary Park. There is also evidence of an outdoor rink beside the Manual Training School, circa 1912.

A large outdoor arena was built in the 1920s on the corner of 13th Avenue South and 2nd Street North. It was replaced by the Memorial Arena in 1951, which was renovated in the 1970s, and again just a few years ago. Meanwhile, the old curling rink beside the Memorial was converted into a skating rink, but with a small ice surface. And in 2000, the arena now known as Western Financial Place was opened.

And there have been skating shows, as mentioned, certainly since the 1940s, though the first one mounted by the Cranbrook Skating Club was held in 1954, 40 years ago.

“Seeing the visiting skaters, and learning ‘a trick a year’ when they came through annually to put on the carnivals was what inspired us to figure skate,” Pat MacDonald said.

“The Club, now more than ever, is charged with teaching people how to skate,” said Mandryk. This doesn’t mean just figure skating, either, she said, but the basic fundamentals we should all know as Canadians in our ice friendly country. Basics like edge control (stopping in all directions, for example), weight transfer, balance (skating forwards and backwards) and agility (jumps,etc). Also, such simple skills as learning to fall properly.

And since the Skating Club hasn’t had an ice show for several years, it was decided to hold one this year in conjunction with the anniversary.

Mandryk said the Club has been getting the word out to as many Cranbrook Skating Club alumni as possible, inviting them to attend what bodes to be a very gala evening indeed.

“Celebrating the Decades” takes place Saturday, March 1, at Western Financial Place, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets for this family-friendly show are: $10 for adults, $5 for children, with a family rate of $25.



Just Posted

Repaving of Victoria Ave (3rd St. S. to 11th St. S.) began on Monday, June 12. Drivers are asked to please avoid the area for the remainder of the day, if possible. Please watch for and obey directions from flaggers and signage, as the detours will be moving regularly. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
Road construction, repaving programs well underway

Local road construction and repaving work continue apace, as summer programs get… Continue reading

Vendors and customers at one of the Cranbrook markets in 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Cranbrook Farmers Market updates operating hours for the summer

Markets will continue to run from 10a.m. to 1p.m. until October 30th

City council passed first reading of a text amendment to a downtown zoning bylaw that would permit the land use for a craft brewery. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
Downtown zoning amendment allowing craft brewery passes first reading

An application is moving forward that will tweak a downtown zoning bylaw… Continue reading

City council deferred moving forward on a proposed development in Wildstone, requesting a meeting with the developer to get clarification on project details. Photo submitted.
Cranbrook city council debates proposed Wildstone development

Cranbrook city council held off on moving forward with a proposed apartment… Continue reading

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Most Read