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Canada’s top figure skaters compete in Novice National Championships in Waterloo


The best novice figure skaters came to Waterloo for the Novice National Championships Thursday and Friday at the Waterloo Memorial Recreational Complex.

The Novice National Championship is hosted by Skate Canada, and features the top up-and-coming Canadian figure skaters in the men, women, pair, and ice dance disciplines.

“This is a precursor to competing internationally, making it on the senior team, the National team, competing at the World Championships, Olympic Games, etc.,” Terry Sheahan, Senior Director of Events and Production Services for Skate Canada said.

“This is the first level of national competition. So for these skaters, this is really their Olympics,” Debra Brown, Executive Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club said.

Two Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club ice dance teams competed in the Novice National Championships.

Philip Czarnecki, 18 and Mackenzie Lockston, 16, have been skating together for about seven years. Both are from Waterloo and are with the KW skating club, but don’t believe they will be able to continue competing together, because Czarnecki is planning to go to school in Europe.

“It's kind of sad, I guess. I mean, we've doing it for such a long time, so it'll be a change, for sure,” Lockston said.

“I'm hoping to go overseas, so it's going to be quite different for me,” Czarnecki said.

Czarnecki and Lockston finished eleventh in the competition, but were happy to be able to perform in their hometown.

“It's so cool. All my family's here, so it's good then to support me,” Lockston said.

Czarnecki and Lockston had already competed at a Novice National Championship before Thursday, but it was the first time for Lilla Horvat and Bryce Aggerholm, Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club’s other ice dance team.

“It's our first novice nationals, so it felt really amazing just to perform it,” Horvat, 14, said.

Horvat and Aggerholm have skated together for four years and want to keep competing as long as possible.

“It feels amazing to be at Novice nationals in our hometown, especially,” Horvat said.

“We really enjoy just being at home and kind of showing everybody what we can do,” Aggerholm, 18, said.

Lilla Horvat and Bryce Aggerholm at the Novice National Championships in Waterloo on Feb. 23, 2024. (CTV News/Colton Wiens)

Bill Poje, the father of Waterloo’s three-time world medalist ice dancer Andrew Poje, was also at the event. Bill said these lower level events were always nerve-wracking as a parent of an athlete, but are crucial to athlete development.

“You're the parent of an athlete and try to give them the opportunity. This is a great opportunity to get feedback and the realization of have they got it?” Bill Poje, Andrew Poje’s father said.

In the end, neither local teams medaled. On the weekend, Skate Canada is also hosting the Skate Canada Cup at the complex, which will feature the best Novice, Intermediate and Open level synchronized skaters wrapping up on Sunday.

“Love Waterloo. The facility is fantastic. It's very central. Many of our skaters come from the region, especially in synchronized skating. We're in the golden horseshoe of synchronized skating,” Terry Sheahan, Senior Director of Events and Production Services for Skate Canada said.

The event is being followed by the Skate Canada Cup, which features the best Novice, Intermediate and Open level synchronized skaters at the rec complex over the weekend.

“This is a pretty big event in combination. There's about 60 skaters in the singles, pairs and dance, and there's 42 synchronized skating teams. So that's probably close to 500 athletes coming in for that,” Sheahan said.

Having both events locally was a big plus for Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club, so their skaters can see athletes in all disciplines competing.

“More family can come and watch the skaters. We're also able to send some of our synchro team to see the synchro championships on the weekend,” Brown said.

Skate Canada said the location is also more central for most skaters compared to last year’s event, so they saw more competitors able to make it to this year’s event as a result. Top Stories

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