For Morrisburg and District figure skater Ali VanHoof, it’s been a season of ups and downs. But with a hugely solid performance behind her at the, February 15-17, EOSIC at Whitby, Ontario, the 16 year old, grade 10 student at Seaway District High School is exactly where she wanted to be when it started…training for the upcoming 2013 Ontario Starskate Championships in Fort Erie, Ontario.
For a period of several weeks last fall, Ali’s hope of qualifying at EOSIC for a spot at the Ontario Championship wasn’t looking good.
“Ali started her season by training over the summer (2012), developing new programs with the goal of qualifying at EOSIC in the Triathlon event to go on to the Skate Ontario StarSkate Championship,” explains her coach Louise Dimmick. “It all seemed on track until she suffered an injury to her ankle warming up at a competition at the end of September. That kept her off the ice for five weeks, and limited her as to what she could practice for an additional three weeks once she came back.”
It resulted in her planned 4.5 month pre-competition preparation time being cut in half.
“She had just over two months to get back into competition shape both physically and mentally, as well as finish the preparation and polish of four programs,” says Dimmick. “We were faced with a daunting challenge.”
But, says Dimmick, “it is amazing what can be accomplished by the human spirit with perseverance and support.”
Despite the injury-plagued season, Van Hoof worked hard and her results were impressive at the Eastern Ontario Section Inter Club event (EOSIC) in Whitby, which allowed her to qualify for the upcoming Ontario Starskate competition from March 22-24.
The Triathlon is a three part event with skaters competing in Skills, Interpretive and Freeskating.
Ali started the Triathlon at EOSIC with a personal best skate in her Skills program. “She demonstrated good edges, turns and spirals and filled the boardless ice surface with her speed and power,” says Dimmick.
Her performance put her in fourth place with only 1/100th of a point separating her from third spot going into the Interpretive program.
“Her Interpretive program, admittedly her weakest part of the Triathlon, was the true breakthrough of the weekend,” says Dimmick explaining that Interpretive requires that the skater communicate a theme to the audience through performing skating moves to music.
“Cleopatra’s Conquest was a fitting theme for Ali this season as it signifies the fight and determination she has demonstrated in order to challenge for her goals given the obstacles she has faced.”
In skating her Interpretive, Ali shattered her previous score by over 12 points to earn a fifth place finish in the Interpretive segment. This moved her into third place with her strongest event, Freeskate, yet to come.
“I knew going into the Triathlon that the Freeskate would be my strongest. I knew that it could be the one that could lift me up,” says Ali. “I was fairly confident going in, but after I was finished I knew there were a few things I could have done better. I felt that I had skated well enough though to be in the top somewhere.”
And indeed she had. An excellent performance placed her first in the Freeskate segment and landed her an overall second place finish in the Silver Triathlon Event to qualify for this month’s Ontario Starskate Championship.
During her EOSIC Freeskate, VanHoof landed five double jumps, two double, double combinations, a double lutz and a third jump combination-Axel plus loop.
She performed three great spins including a death drop flying spin and two combinations which included difficult variations.
As for the upcoming Starskate Championship, VanHoof says she is now training hard. “I’m going to try to add to my Interpretive, and I am working on cleaner turns in my skills.”
“I am trying to up my mark a bit in all of my programs.”
Ali has been skating since she was a wee tot. She is a very motivated skater and works very hard. She successfully balances her skating with her school studies, school athletics and a part-time job.
She is one of only a few local skaters to earn the opportunity to skate at provincial levels.