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.

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

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

VicPD faces ‘significant pressure’ following Victoria’s 2019 budget decision

Chief Const. Del Manak says council continues to micromanage his department

Work set to begin on removing Sooke’s derelict boats from waterways

Seven boats earmarked to be removed this spring

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

SOOKE HISTORY: Grandma Sue shared First Nations’ traditions with visitors

Elida Peers | Contributed We have had a number of books published… Continue reading

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Most Read