Competitors, coaches, parents, officials and spectators converged on Virden’s Tundra Oil & Gas Place from Jan. 5 - 7 for the annual Skate Virden Fun Skate Competition where 299 figure skaters, beginner to adult, from across Manitoba and points in Saskatchewan registered this year. This was the largest in the event’s 20-year history.
“The program is growing, which helps, and there’s less and less of these events, especially for some of the higher skilled skaters,” said Skate Virden Vice-President Matthew Russell. “As this is a sanctioned event, the scoring gets used for other provincial and national events as well. We opened up (the registration) to a number of different skill levels, which is another reason we attracted so many skaters. That also means that you need more, or different levels of judges. Not every competition can bring in all the judges and what’s required. We have the infrastructure set up and because we opened it up, our registration exploded.”
Scheduling over the three days aims to minimize down time. “If a skater from Portage or Regina comes here and they are in three or four events, we do everything we can to schedule them all in one day,” Russell said. “We work really hard so that when someone comes here, they might be here for six hours… and then they can go.”
Russell praises the corporate support Skate Virden receives to put on the competition each year.
“We’re very fortunate in that regard and have lots of people we can reach out to, so that definitely helps. This is our only fundraising event of the year, so when we do it, we go all out.”
Money spent by visitors to the community has economic benefits as well. “You have a mom, dad, aunt and uncle for all those skaters, and it adds up quickly.”
Russell said that organizing the showcase of skating skills is a team effort and the results paid dividends.
“We revamped our board a couple of years ago,” he said. “2022 was the first year the new board organized the Fun Skate. It went smoothly, but we learned a few things. This year we had an event that was almost double the size, and it felt like it ran even smoother.
“Next year, hopefully bigger and better yet.”