DIGBY, N.S. – Call it an ice show or a skating carnival, Lucie Webber calls organizing the annual event part of her job.
The Bridgetown-based coach for the Digby Area Skating Club says there won’t be games or ferris wheels at their annual ice show, but there will be lots of skaters presenting a whole lot of fun on March 4 at the Digby arena.
“We’re presenting the ‘Magical World of Digby’,” Webber says. “We figured that was a safe and fun play on words without infringing on the Disney trademark.”
Webber says all of the club’s skaters – from the CanSkaters to the STARskaters – are involved in the show that will feature dragons and pirates and even a sleeping beauty.
Webber’s job includes coming up with the skating program for the show, creating the individual acts, finding the music and, of course, teaching the children and youth their roles.
“We have 20 acts lined up and ready to go,” Webber says. “The opening act has every skater and on-ice assistant at the club involved. I thought that was a good way to kick off the show and it’s featuring the dining room scene from Beauty and the Beast.”
Webber says the skaters’ moms help sew costumes, find props, make food and organize – it’s a big production.
“Lots of hours go into costume making,” Webber says. “We’re always looking for any sort of donation that way, especially fabric. We have a costume room, and we’ve learned to be pretty good at repurposing stuff. I’m a thrifter, so I’m always going through charity bins to try to find costuming on the cheap.”
Part of that comes out of necessity.
“Skating is super expensive,” Webber says. “The cost of the ice is the main expense, you get charged by the minute. The Digby rink is pretty good about the cost of the ice, but that’s definitely our biggest expense.”
Webber has been skating most of her life and coaching for the last five years. While she understands figure skating is an expense for families, she also promotes physical fitness and active living.
“I have three kids of my own and they all are good skaters,” she says. “I figure if you’re swimming, biking and skating ... you tend to be more active throughout the rest of your life.”
She says the annual ice show, besides being entertaining and fun, is also a huge boost to the young skaters’ morale.
“It’s almost like being in theatre, even if you’re just doing a one-foot glide and doing it well,” Webber says. “Skating is good for so many different types of kids as well. If they’re a daredevil and like to do things fast, they can skate fast or if they’re a risk-taker, that’s good too. Some of the best jumpers are the kids who aren’t worried about hitting the ice on their way down.”
ABOUT THE CLUB
This year the Digby skate club has about two dozen CanSkaters registered and more than 11 STARskaters. The STARskater levels were developed by Skate Canada and have replaced the more rigid junior or senior levels that skaters used to be assessed by. Webber says she prefers the new system since it allows skaters to advance at their own pace and gain confidence in their skills.
“There’s movement within the levels – a skater could be a Star 3 in one area and a Star 4 in another, so it’s a better way for them to progress at their own rate. Some kids are better dancers or some are better at freestyle,” she says.
Webber says there are always opportunities for skaters to be competitive or attend extra training. Some of their skaters have competed provincially. A couple have attended skating clinics with the pros – one with Kurt Browning and another with Katlyn Osmond – and some skaters who are more serious train at other rinks as well. Webber herself has coached two Special Olympic athletes who won provincial gold medals in 2015 and 2017.
However, the annual ice show is a chance for local skaters to demonstrate the skills they have been working on all year.
“A lot of the programs the kids are skating in are tied to the skills they’re learning every week,” Webber says. “This is an opportunity to showcase those skills, and it’s an opportunity to do something fun that maybe they can’t do in a competition, maybe something fancy they’re working on that they’re not supposed to be doing yet.”
Webber says she’s taken a more relaxed approach with the older skaters this year and has allowed them to mostly self-direct their own princess montage.
“I’m still guiding them, but they’re doing some of the things in the show that they really like to do,” she says.
The club welcomes volunteers and sponsors. Webber says Frank Brown’s Plumbing and Burner Service just sponsored the club, allowing them to purchase warm-up jackets for all 11 STARskaters.
But for Webber, who co-ordinates the show, it all comes back to sharing her love of skating with others.
“I enjoy working with the kids, but I really enjoy seeing their faces when they accomplish something they don’t think they can do,” she says. “That’s the best part of coaching – that’s more payment than anything else could ever be. It’s all of those small victories that are the big payback.”
The club is always open to new members. Registrations are held in the fall of each year.
IF YOU GO
The annual ice show is being held Sunday, March 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Digby arena. There will be food available to purchase. All proceeds will go to support the club and members of the public are invited to join in the fun. Tickets are available at the door and are $5 per person. Children 5 and under are free.