Skater sidelined due to injury, sister carries on

The Maekawas are having to adjust to some unexpected changes

  • Wed Dec 28th, 2011 12:00pm
  • Sports

Pilar Maekawa performs alone on the ice at the new open-air rink at Victoria's Centennial Square earlier this month.

Sooke figure skater Leonardo Maekawa is not quite whole.

The 19-year-old has been out of commission since October after landing wrong off a jump in practice and breaking his shinbone.

“I heard a pop and I thought I either broke it or tore something,” he said. He is slowly recovering after surgery where doctors installed a metal plate and four screws.

The last two months has been the longest break Leonardo has taken from skating in the last five years, where he and his figure skating parter and sister Pilar normally spend almost as much time on the ice as off it.

“I don’t feel complete until I have skates on my feet, it’s just become part of me.”

Because of his injury, the duo have missed out on a few competitions this year including one in their home country of Mexico. To stay in shape, Leonardo has been swimming and doing upper body exercises until the pain in his leg subsides. He is hoping he will be fully-healed by February so they can attend the 2012 world juniors in Belarus.

He admitted even if he is 100 per cent, getting back to top form in such a short period will be difficult.

“It is a major set back because all the other skaters have been competing and training for the season since April.”

Pilar has been continuing to train alone, although that has proven difficult since she normally skates primarily ice dance with Leonardo and has had to try and learn moves for two on her own. Her brother, on the other hand, also competes in singles free skate. She did have a taste of performing on her own earlier this month when she was chosen to kick off the unveiling of the open-air ice rink at Centennial Square in downtown Victoria.

The young skater — who is fresh out of high school — said she got the opportunity because the people in charge of the new rink knew her, as they also look after the one at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre where the siblings normally skate once a week.

In fact, there are hardly any ice surfaces in the southern Island that the Maekawas haven’t frequented. They also skate regularly at Pearkes Arena, and at the Victoria

Racquet Club where they are part of the figure skating program there. They can also be found at SEAPARC skating ocassionally and helping out with the Sooke Skating Club. The local arena used to sponsor Leonardo and Pilar by donating ice time, but that ended for reasons unknown said Leonardo and Pilar’s mother Conchita Maekawa.

Finding sponsorship has been an ongoing challenge for the family despite all their successes, the most recent placing fifth overall in novice ice dance at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships that were held in Victoria. There is little time left for work because of the intense training schedule, and the bills for coaching, fitness, travel and ice continue to pile up. The average cost per year for everything is about $50,000, said Conchita.

A friend of the Maeka