By Darren Lum
Talking to the senior bronze dance pairs team it’s apparent the members are as different as night and day.
Haliburton’s Isaac Little is very comfortable talking while his skating dance partner Minden’s Ruthie Parker would rather let her skating do the talking than explain their fourth place at the 2016 Skate Ontario Championships on March 20 at the Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury.
However what the Minden Figure Skating Club members share is a passion for skating and the enviable red jackets awarded only to skaters successful in making the provincial championships.
Little is proud about the jacket and the result of the hard work put in by the pair who have improved drastically since coming together in October.
“We came from being so pathetic. We didn’t know the steps [of our dance number] to [we] should have won bronze. It just feels good because I know we did our best. That’s all we can do” he said referring to narrowly missing of the podium.
The eastern Ontario representatives were edged off the podium by a little more than two tenths of a point by the team of Shannon Woods and Pier Nauta of the Thamesford Skating Club.
Little explains that initially when the results were announced he and Parker were named as the third place finishers. They were elated and had little reason to doubt it because the team they were chasing in the standings finished behind them after the last skate. However when there was a correction announcement placing them fourth it left them disappointed but not displeased with their effort.
The satisfaction they felt despite the result is owed to the team’s improvement over the season which came from the pairs change in mindset and is owed to their coaches Little said.
“We just decided to buy in to what the coaches were telling us. That would be Jane Symons and Dave Hollows mostly” he said.
The two skaters are strong friends off the ice and have known each other for close to five years.
“It just made it easier because when you know someone better you know you can say things to make you guys get better so that you will do your best. You know they won’t be offended because you’re just trying to make you guys win” Little said.
He’s complimentary about his reserved partner calling her “an amazing skater and a great friend.”
“It was great to skate with her because we just made sure we had fun. At all-Ontario’s we just made sure to smile that we got to all-ontario’s so just be proud and do our best” Little said.
Parker enjoyed her season and how she finished it.
Although she has skated for 11 years she valued the accomplishment because it was her first team achievement She acknowledged the individual achievement and the recognition it provided her club.
The 14-year-old admitted to being very nervous at the EOSIC (Eastern Ontario STARSkate Invitational Championship) the provincial qualifier. The team finished third and she put it behind her at the all-provincials.
Her strong performance at the provincials was owed greatly to improved confidence related to the process in the pairs skating and their friendship.
“I thought we could do it” she said. “We improved a lot so that gave me more courage.”
Her partner noticed the difference in her.
“This time she was just ready to do it and she skated the best I’ve ever seen her skate” Little said.
Little who kept his totals from Winterskate the first competition en route to all-provincials shows how they went from barely crossing the 10 point threshold to the 13.40 at the Skate Ontario event.
The dramatic improvement in their scores was owed to better familiarity with the dance steps she said.
“We improved a lot because we started to … understand how to do the dance a lot more. That made us better” she said.
Symons said losing by two-tenths of a point “is about as close as you can get.”
Despite missing the podium she is proud of her skaters and said this is an example of how the standard of skating has improved at her club.
Abby Rosik 10 and part-time member of Fenelon Falls Braydon Lynch 14 took top spot in the junior bronze dance category at the EOSIC event. Unfortunately this team did not complete testing by the Nov. 1 deadline and were not eligible to receive their red jacket and compete at the 2016 Skate Ontario Championships.
Symons credits fellow coach Hollows with the bulk of the coaching for the pair. They divided the coaching in that she taught finesse while he was responsible mainly for the power side of things.
Symons said if this team stayed together next year they would be a team of reckoning.
However Little has already decided he will pursue hockey all winter.
He adds he plans to frame his red jacket and skates in a box and hang it on his wall.
Parker understands the decision to continue next year rests with her partner but she hopes he would reconsider.
Part of his decision rests with being a good partner.
“I don’t want to make a commitment to Ruthie and not be able to be there if we have a competition” he said.
He is aware there are a lot people that hope he changes his mind but he believes this is a great way to end his figure skating.
“It’s a good way to end because I know that there really wasn’t anything else we could have accomplished. We did what we wanted to do. We strived to get to all-Ontario’s and that was really important really good to me that we did that” he said.