Skaters top provincial podium

In sport, consistency is like a treasured commodity. And frequently it’s the one factor that defines champions.

It’s what the likes of Mitchell Gordon, Shawn Cuevas, Larkyn Austman, Elvie Carroll, Danielle Gordon, Rachel De Mello, Danica Vangsgaard, Madge Sheung and Kurtis Schreiber have in common. And why the athletes representing Richmond’s Connaught Skating Club again found themselves on the podium at last weekend’s B.C./Yukon Sectionals in Parksville.

“It’s a good (reflection) of the way we’re developing the athletes,” said Keegan Murphy, Connaught’s director of programs. “While skating is an individual sport, our training environment is very competitive.

“You need to foster that but also (ensure) all the skaters feel a part of the team. They compete one at a time but always have a support system behind them. There is a lot of positivity in that process.”

The 2011 Canadian novice men’s champion, Mitchell Gordon, 15, is now skating at the senior level and won the provincial senior men’s title Sunday.

Also winning their respective divisions were Cuevas (junior men’s), Austman (junior ladies) and Carroll (juvenile ladies group one), while Danielle Gordon was a silver medallist in pre-novice ladies, De Mello a bronze medallist in juvenile ladies group 1; and Vangsgaard, a bronze medallist in juvenile ladies group 2. Sheung won bronze in juvenile ladies under-11, while Schreiber was fourth in men’s novice to qualify for the Skate Canada Challenge in two weeks in Regina.

Schreiber will be joined at the competition, Dec. 5-9, by four Connaught teammates: Mitchell Gordon, Cuevas, Austman and Danielle Gordon. With the exception of Danielle Gordon, for whom the event will decide the pre-novice ladies national champion, all will be attempting to qualify for the Canadian championships Jan. 13-20, 2013 in Mississauga.

Their results last weekend, combined with the other Connaught skaters, earned the club its first overall provincial title in a decade.

“There’s nothing more you can really ask of them,” said Murphy. “It’s a testament to their hard work and that of the staff, plus their parents’ commitment that we’d stand above the other clubs in the province.”

That the athletes are consistently enjoying this level of success isn’t a surprise to Murphy or any other members of the coaching staff.

“We knew they could achieve (what they have) because they have good perspective,” he said. “We talk to the kids about taking confidence from the process and that when they experience some rough patches it’s OK. There are so many variables that can happen in competition and we try to simulate each of them in practice.

“They may still be nervous or a bit stressed, but it takes the magnitude of the moment away and they’re (better) able to go out and do what they have to.”

Having older teammates, who they train alongside, succeeding also inspires the younger athletes. Murphy said they can see the continuation of their hard work and that the rewards are going to come.

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