Strong showing for Island’s own

Pilar and Leonardo Maekawa compete Jan. 18 in BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals at Save On Foods Memorial Centre.

Pilar and Leonardo Maekawa compete Jan. 18 in BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals at Save On Foods Memorial Centre.

Every athlete dreams of first place finishes but, realistically, measurable improvement is enough to hope for, and proof their hard work is paying off.

The figure skating Maekawas glided onto the biggest stage of their young careers on Jan. 17 and 18 and raised their national rankings in the process.

Pilar and Leonardo (16 and 18, respectively) competed in the novice ice dance classification and Leonardo in the novice men’s division.

The Sooke residents who skate out of the Racquet Club of Victoria were in the top 10 nationally in both disciplines.

The ice dancers came into the BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals at Save On Foods Memorial Centre ranked sixth in the country, Leo at eighth as a solo artist. Each was bumped up a placing when the skating wrapped up and that’s something they and their coaches were plenty pleased with.

The result gives them confidence as they prepare for their next challenge – a move up the ladder to the “junior” level.

In their opening on Monday the ice dancers had a momentary bout with nerves that would end up costing them a bit in the overall scoring, but they hung in and made the best of it. After day-one they were hovering in the eighth spot in a field of 15 teams.

Tuesday morning they seized the moment and skated to a personal best 53.87 in the free dance, earning fifth spot along the way.

“With our routine I felt everything went well,” said Leo some time after the fact.

He was unable to emerge with his sister to greet the media following the dance, needing to prepare for his solo program. But the space of an hour or so had done nothing to dim his recollection of the free dance.

“It was like… euphoria,” he related, clutching a stuffed toy one of the many local fans had tossed following his own skate.

“I remember us in our starting pose and the next thing we were bowing for the crowd. It felt great and being in front of the home crowd made us even more excited to keep going. We got a personal best and it was a perfect way to end the season.”

Pilar was also appreciative of the support from local fans.

“It was great,” she said while still catching her breath. “They gave us so much positive energy.”

Along with coach Matt Willis, Pilar faced a small press scrum and said among the top things she drew from the experience was the mental skill of maintaining a strong focus on the task at hand.

The training routine and schedule had left nothing to be desired as things turned out.

“They peaked at the perfect time,” said Willis. As for any specific challenges within the dance, like one or more particular moves, there were none focused upon.

“The challenge was the same as the dance itself,” said Willis. “Keeping to one step at a time because it’s so easy to lose concentration.”

Leo then delivered a clean and lively free skate that inspired another partisan outburst of cheering from the crowd that sounded much bigger than it looked. He described the transition between events.

“It’s a pretty normal switch for me but it has to be very quick because in the next hour I had my free skate. I have to re-focus, so I could celebrate the dance for a couple of minutes and then just get back into the zone.”

The next chapter will be no less exciting for the young athletes.

“We’re thinking of moving up to junior,” said Leo. “We’re going to try and see if we can get a few international assignments and work our way up through different levels of difficulties in both categories.”

The top finishers in each of the Maekawa’s events are listed as follows:

Novice Dance

1. Madeline Edwards / Zhao Kai Pang BC/YT

2. Noa Bruser / Timothy Lum BC/YT

3. Mackenzie Bent / Garrett MacKeen EO

4. Caelen Dalmer / Shane Firus BC/YT

5. Pilar Maekawa / Leonardo Maekawa BC/YT

Novice Men

1 Mitchell Gordon BC/YT

2 Mathieu Nepton QC

3 Christophe Belley QC

4 Alistair Sylvester WO

5 Nicolas Tondreau-Alin QC

6 Graeme Gordon BC/YT

7 Leonardo Maekawa BC/YT

Just Posted

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read