Early in 2017, the Kamloops Skating Club reached out to Canadian figure skating coach Ravi Walia about putting on a seminar for local skaters as well as those in the surrounding area.
Despite heading into an Olympic year, the world-class coach had an opening in November and came to town for a day to teach techniques to up-and-coming skaters. While he was here, Heather Ansley, a coach with the Kamloops Skating Club, asked him about returning in the future and bringing one of his skaters back as well. He said to keep in touch.
A few months later, the skater in question won the women's singles crown at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships. And now, Kaetlyn Osmond will be joining Walia in his return to Kamloops this weekend.
"We feel quite honoured that both of them can be here," Ansley tells KamloopsMatters. "Last year, she couldn't have made it; she was in a competitive season and couldn't get here at all, but now she's freed up a little bit of time so it's good.
"A lot of kids will never get the chance to meet a world champion. To be on the ice with her and have that sort of energy, it will be awesome."
In fact, Osmond, who also won an Olympic bronze medal in the women's singles in Pyeongchang, along with a gold in the mixed-team event, has freed up a lot of time. She announced earlier this summer that she would be taking next year off from competitive skating.
Registration for the seminar is now full. Ansley says there was limited space because Walia only wanted a certain number of skaters on the ice at a time, so the coaching can be more focused.
"I've been to lots of seminars with coaches of his level and some do it like he does it and some leave it up to the club," says Ansley. "Like, if we wanted to use it like a fundraiser and jam the ice with kids, you could do that. But our club wanted this to be really valuable to the kids who have registered, so we've kept it right to the number."
Last year, they had around 16 to 18 skaters on the ice for each session, one for the Star 2 and 3 levels and one for older, more advanced kids.
Registration wasn't limited to club members, either. Ansley says skaters are coming from Prince George, Vancouver and the Okanagan region. But local skaters will also reap the benefits, particularly those who were taught by Walia last year and can build on his techniques and tips.
"The club is really pumped. It's early in the season. We've just gotten back to our regular ice time coming off summer holidays, so it's a pretty fast turnabout coming off holidays and going to this. But it's good, they can use what they learn on Saturday to get ready for their first competition."
The seminars start at 7 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 15) and run until 2 p.m.
The first competition of the year for the Kamloops Skating Club is the 2018 Super Series Autumn Leaves, held at the McArthur Island Sports Centre. The contest runs Oct. 19 to 21.