FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -A virtual figure skating competition gave Fort St. John competitors something to look forward to after a challenging 2020-2021 season.

The 2021 CNC Regionals were held virtually this year, allowing for skaters to have an event to train for during a season restricted by COVID-19 public health guidelines.

According to coach Jen Hammond, this was the only opportunity to compete this year for most of the skaters.

“For the majority of our skaters, that was the only one they got to participate in. We did have one skater, Sophie Stevens that was able to compete in the Autumn Leaves competition and Provincials,” says Hammond.

For the rest of the skaters, Hammond says it was a long season with little light at the end of the tunnel.

“Normally we’re competing a lot earlier in the season, so there were points throughout the season where there was a little bit of lack of motivation. Once we found out that we were able to compete, everybody was quite excited about it.”

The virtual competition was set up as close to a normal competition as possible. Coaches were required to film their skaters.

“They went out, they had their warmup, and they were all wearing their competition gear. They got their one shot, which is just how it is in competition.”

Hammond filmed her skaters’ performances back in February, and the “live stream” of the event was hosted on the Skate BC website. Judges were able to view the performances and score the event live.

While Hammond understands the frustration from the skaters this season, she says they handled the adversity well.

“They all did really, really well. They handled it like champs and I’m just super proud of them and all their performances.”

With the option of doing more virtual competitions in the future, Hammond says parents were happy to give up the long travel, but the skaters definitely missed out on the competition experience.

“The parents enjoyed that aspect of it because the cost is obviously lower without all that travel. The downside is missing out on that experience. The feeling of being at a different rink, the buildup before the performance. But under our circumstances, we were more than happy to do something for the kids.”

The ice will stay in until April 10th, so the club will have its last day on April 9th. Hammond hopes to have a mini competition to showcase the younger skaters who didn’t get to compete this season.

“We normally like to do that as a club anyway. It’s kind of a fun little wrap-up for the season and each of the little skaters gets a chance to perform, which we hope to videotape and send to the parents.”