(This is the first in a two-part series about adult skaters with the Fuller Lake Skating Club).
Previous generations of figure skaters never thought much about continuing to skate into their adult life, unless it was in a coaching position. In most cases, once young competitive figure skaters were out of their teens, that was it.
That’s all changed, with many parents in their 30s and 40s maintaining that connection to the sport from their youth for fitness or fun – and even friendly competition, in some cases, where there are enough others to measure up against.
Cassandra Taylor (nee Ruppenthal), who lived in Chemainus at the time and now resides in Ladysmith, was just three years old when she started skating at Fuller Lake following in the footsteps of Holly.
“My older sister skated,” explained Cassandra. “She was six years older than me. It was just a thing.”
Now 34, Cassandra is still skating in ice sessions at Fuller Lake alongside daughter Jasmine, 11. Her other daughter Bradleigh, 12, also skated briefly.
“They both started at the same time,” Cassandra indicated. “I guess they were four and five. It was definitely my doing. They didn’t have a chance at that time.”
Cassandra moved away to Alberta at age 18 and got away from skating for a while, typical of so many other girls in the sport.
“I didn’t start back again till 30,” she indicated.
Despite only being back on the ice the last four years, Cassandra caught the bug again through her daughters.
“When I got them into skating, I started to get that little thought going, maybe I could get back out there,” she recalled.
Jasmine said she liked skating from the beginning and has been going strong ever since, progressing up to Star 4.
“She caught on really quickly,” noted Cassandra. “We knew it was going to be her thing as well.”
Jasmine, a Grade 6 student at Ladysmith Intermediate School, skates three times a week and twice on Fridays.
“I like the friends and skating,” she said. “I like all my coaches.”
Jasmine and the other current Fuller Lake skaters love head coach Dominic Turgeon. He’s tough, but likes to keep things light at certain times with his trademark sense of humour.
“I’m making little improvements every time,” said Jasmine. “I’m working on double sows (salchow) right now.”
She’ll soon be moving up to Star 5.
Bradleigh skated for three years, but then decided not to pursue it any further.
For Jasmine, being on the ice with mom is something special.
“I like it,” she indicated. “She keeps me going.”
Cassandra completed her Gold Freeskate and Gold Skills during her heyday and is still testing for Gold Dances.
“It’s really neat,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard.”
Skating with her daughter also means a lot to Cassandra and brings back many memories of what it was like being a club member in her youth.
“I see her chit-chatting on the ice, we have fun with it, it’s good,” said Cassandra.
Jasmine is just coming off the regional competition in Port Alberni where she placed fifth in the Star 4 Under 13 event. She had been hoping to move up from fourth last year, but it didn’t quite work out.
Her goal, for now, is to “keep going.”
“I wish I never quit,” remarked Cassandra in retrospect. “Knowing now I can skate like I do, I wished I kept on going.”
But she likes the idea of being a role model, someone the kids can look up to.
”I just want to set an example for these girls,” said Cassandra. “You never have to stop, even if you’re doing it for fun.”