Two local figure skaters qualify for Special Olympics World Winter Games

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Brooke Thomas has been named to Team Canada’s training squad for the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which will take place in exactly one year in Kazan, Russia.

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She is joined by fellow figure skater Rosie Laidler. The two join a team of 21 skaters to compete for Canada. They are both coached by Nicole Handy-Richardson of the Ripley-Huron Skating Club, but will have a new coach before the Olympic course. The pair will travel to Russia to compete from the 21st to the 27th.

Laidler was selected because she finished 1st in Level 6 Dance and 2nd in Level 6 Freestyle at the Special Olympics National Winter Games in Thunder Bay in February 2020.

“It’s a four-year process to get to world championships, regional qualifiers, provincial championships, national championships and then the world championships,” she explained.

“It’s been tough training during COVID,” she continued. “When restrictions allow, I train at Magnum Fitness with Cody Owens twice a week and skate at the Ripley Club with Nicole twice a week.”

“Special Olympics Canada has set up virtual workouts that I’m doing at home,” Laidler said. “They also sent equipment to help me train. We also have monthly online mental performance sessions and weekly virtual off-ice or yoga training for figure skaters that will start again in the spring.

Brooke Thomas, who is participating for the first time, explains that she had to train every week, with also an off-training. She qualified at regional events, then moved up to the provincial (national) level before qualifying for the world championships. She plans to prepare for the games by eating well and training on and off the ice.

Thomas has been skating since the age of four – around sixteen, now – she has also received gold medals in the freestyle as well as the dance.

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“I’m beyond excited,” Thomas said. “I am so proud to represent Canada in Russia.

Thomas said she was very excited to meet new friends, get the chance to travel to Russia and, of course, compete!

Laidler has been skating for about 23 years at Ripley Huron Skating Club or Kincardine Skating Club. She passed her Skate Canada Gold Dances and Gold Interpretation. She has also participated in numerous provincial and national Winter Games and competed in two previous World Games in Anchorage, Alaska in 2001 and Graz, Austria in 2017.

“I retired from competitive skating after the National Games in Thunder Bay in 2020 and was very surprised to be selected for the World Practice Squad in April 2021,” she said. . “I decided to come out of retirement and start training hard. The World Games were supposed to take place this month, but they have been postponed to January next year.

Laidler’s advice for Brooke is to “train hard, do your best and make sure you enjoy the experience!”

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