Skating club in Minnedosa, Man., places 1st in national video competition
A southwestern Manitoba skating club has taken home the top prize in a national video competition designed to celebrate the sport.
The Minnedosa Skating Club was announced as the winner of the "Club & Skating Schools" category of Skate Canada's Skate With Us national contest on Saturday, raking in a $5,000 prize.
"I just saw the contest and figured our town and skating club has a pretty interesting story, so I thought we should enter," club president Jacquie Gerrard told CBC News on Sunday.
Gerrard, who entered her role in 2020 amidst COVID-19 lockdowns, said the pandemic left the club in a make or break moment. She said it was "on the brink of death" with just four figure skaters.
The club's winning video is based on the community coming together during the pandemic, who worked to clear a two kilometre trail on a local pond for kids and families to skate, which Gerrard said attracted more skaters to the skating club.
Enrolment at the club has now tripled to 15 figure skaters, and they're on track to have 20 by next year. The club is also looking to hire a second coach and add more ice time to the schedule, according to Gerrard.
"I'm down at the lake again, skating here today. It's just something we really do here, so to have that recognized across Canada — that Minnedosa is a skating community — is just really exciting," she said.
The club, which has traditionally been recreational, had a figure skater compete for the first time in 15 years, she said. "And there's talk of more people going to competitions next year too."
The money will go directly back into the program and towards getting kids skating. There are 45 kids participating in the club's learn to skate program, said Gerrard.
"In Manitoba, it's winter for a long time, and skating is just an amazing sport that is almost free."
The videographer of the winning video is a former competitive figure skater who understood the spirit of the club, she said.
"I've been speechless all weekend. It's been such a pleasure," Brittany Hewlko, who shot the video, said in an interview with CBC News on Sunday.
"It's huge for our community to receive, not only this recognition, but that pride is going to go such a long way for such a small skating program."
Hewlko, who competed as a figure skater from ages three to 18 in Brandon, Man., now lives in Minnedosa, which is a community 50 kilometres north of Brandon with a population of approximately 2,500.
It was a memorable experience for Hewlko to watch the community come together around the rink during the pandemic, she said.
"Now to see the community really thrive in their rink through all of their skating programs has been really special."
The video showcases the club's advanced skaters, before moving on to the younger skaters. Hewlko said it was "cool to capture those little moments" of the skaters' curiosity and joy, and felt as though she were living through her past self shooting the video.
The win has created a lot of buzz in the community, according to Hewlko.
"I've talked to a few of the parents who have kids in the programs and they are so excited and proud," she said.
"I'm so blessed to be able to capture [moments] that not only caught the hearts of our community, but was able to speak to everybody across the country."