KENTVILLE – Jane Maillet has one day she considers the best-yet so far in her figure skating career – April 27, which was when she met Scott Moir and skated in front of 11,000 people.
The 12-year-old figure skater participated in an intermission program at the Stars on Ice event in Halifax, and says her nerves were as sharp as her skates as she stepped out onto the ice.
Alongside fellow skaters and friends Brooke Pennington and Kate McGee, she hit the ice and could feel her heart thumping until the two other girls paused for a moment before kicking off their program.
“They looked over at me and whispered, ‘Hey Jane, don’t worry – we’ve got this,’ and then we nailed it, and I felt so much joy beyond anything I’ve felt before,” says Maillet.
“’I’m getting good at this’”: Maillet
Maillet began skating at four years old and remembers hating it when she first stepped on the ice.
But her mother, Robyn, a figure skater herself, knew her daughter needed to persevere just a little longer to love the sport like she did.
And sure enough, she was right, says Maillet, who says joining CANSKATE is where she fell in love with it all.
“It’s like she knew it would happen. I felt the fresh air when I was skating, started making friends, and that was that,” she says.
Maillet went on to join the Kentville Silver Gliders skating club and found figure skating started coming easily to her as she learned new moves like crossovers and small jumps.
When things started picking up speed, Maillet – a self-proclaimed perfectionist in sports – had to learn that it was alright to fall down, so long as you got back up.
“I found that frustrating at first and cried a few times, but I kept going along with the spins and jumps. That’s when I really started saying, ‘oh, I’m getting good at this,’” she says.
Her mother would often accompany her to practice and skating workshops and loved watching her figure out her technique.
“I love watching her skate. It makes my heart full to know she’s having so much fun and learning so many life lessons like hard work, determination, goal setting, and resiliency,” says Robyn, who skated herself from youth to university.
“She is better than I ever was.”
More to figure skating than spins, jumps
Encouragement from coaches, fellow skaters and her family kept her feeling motivated to continue practicing and improving in her sport.
A love of dancing and passion for sports meant Maillet had found her perfect combination of athletic pursuits. She learned quickly from participating in seminars taught by professional figure skaters that there was even more to the sport than she’d bargained for.
“This is a really great sport to learn, and an amazing opportunity to learn about more than just leaps and spins. There’s so much more to figure skating than those components – it’s an art to perform this,” she says.
Maillet practices her sport five times per week, splitting her skates between Halifax and Kentville, and has competed on both provincial and Atlantic circuits for over two years.
She currently competes in the Juvenile under-12 division and recently placed fifth overall at the 2018 Atlantic Canada Skating Championships in April, finishing first amongst the Nova Scotia competitors.
“It was a very big deal for me. It made me think that maybe someday I could be competing at nationals or something,” says Maillet.
Meeting a star and feeling like one too
Maillet and her two program partners practiced for two weeks straight for their intermission show at the Stars on Ice event that showcased Canada’s best skaters April 27 at the Scotiabank Centre.
Her nerves started despite the practice as the final days started ticking away because she would imagine meeting the show’s skaters, including Scott Moir, who won gold with partner Tessa Virtue in ice dancing at the 2018 Olympics.
And then the impossible happened – the girls met Scott.
He walked by their room as they were getting ready for the show, and asked if he could take a photo with them. It was a question that was met immediately with a prompt, enthusiastic yes.
“We freaked out. We were squealing, trying not to jump all over him. He was so lovely, and so calm, and we talked with him about skating and feeling nervous,” says Maillet.
“He told us to never feel nervous, because we should feel like the ice is where you’re meant to be every time you step onto it.”
When the moment came for them to step out onto the ice, it was beyond anything they’d imagined, says Maillet. After McGee and Pennington helped calm her nerves, the girls skated a beautiful performance – something the stars took notice of.
“All the superstars were about to hit the ice and were standing there as we walked off, giving us high fives and telling us what a great job we did, over and over, and just kept smiling. It did feel like exactly where I was meant to be,” she says.