Sooke’s brother and sister figure skating duo recently earned second place at Mexico Nationals and a bid to compete in the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia, which runs from Dec. 13-15.
The European competition holds high-stakes for Leonardo Maekawa, 20, and sister, Pilar Maekawa, 18, as they hope to earn enough points to qualify for the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Japan in February.
The Four Continents sees competitors from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania.
“Our goal for this competition is to accumulate a certain amount of points, and if we get these points we can qualify for the Four Continents,” Leonardo said.
“If we make it, that’ll be the biggest competition we have ever been to,” he said. “It’s a huge step forward for us.”
Internationally, the Maekawas have competed in Mexico three times, and in Austria and Milan.
In order to prep for the Golden Spin, Leonardo and Pilar train six days a week on the ice for an average of about two to four hours day.
Another aspect of their regiment is ballroom dancing, hip hop dancing and fitness training.
Their resolve and determination is clear. The pair only had a month to train for Mexico Nationals, as Leonardo had been recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in October 2011.
He was on and off the ice for the better part of a year, and only fully recovered in mid-October.
“Halfway through October is when I started feeling back to 100 per cent,” Leonardo said.
He also underwent surgery on his ankle in June to replace screws and inject bone to expedite healing.
Mexico Nationals on Nov. 12-18 was also their first event at the seniors level, which meant tougher competition.
“We had one month to choreograph and catch up from junior all the way to senior,” Pilar said. “Junior to senior is huge step forward and we did quite well.”
“The other competitors that we were competing against had been skating at that level for a longer period than us,” Leonardo said, adding the pair needed to work twice as hard to bridge the gap between the junior and senior levels.
Skating together for about 12 years, Leonardo and Pilar gauge their passion an 11/10.
“It’s not just our career or passion, it’s a lifestyle,” Leonardo said.
“We’ve done it for so long now, it’d be very strange to not have it around,” Pilar added.