It’s been a month since the PyeongChang Winter Games had its closing ceremonies, yet Team Canada’s success in figure skating continues to inspire local athletes.
While the Olympics were airing from South Korea, the Saskatchewan Winter Games were on in North Battleford, giving many young athletes the chance to watch and then live out their dreams on a local level.
In between competing, Saskatchewan athletes had the chance to watch the Olympics together, which gave some Regina figure skaters inspiration to succeed.
“Just watching (Olympic figure skaters) is such a thrill,” said 12-year-old Caidence Derenisky, who won bronze at the Saskatchewan Winter Games.
“You know what they’re going through when they fall, or when they land and they’re so happy.”
As for 13-year-old Rhea Renwick, who took home a gold medal in North Battleford, she said watching realistic role models in PyeongChang helped push her to win.
“Knowing not all of them are perfect helped me feel better that it didn’t matter if I was perfect — just that I should do my best and have fun,” Renwick said.
As for their coach at the Winter Games, Christine Laprairie, she said having her skaters watch the Olympics, while competing themselves, motivated them to skate better in their own competition.
“I think it’s really important that they know … there are multiple skaters, in multiple disciplines, who are (going to the Olympics) and they can achieve that if they put the work in,” said Laprairie.
And Renwick said she’s already subconsciously started to put in that work.
“If I were to see myself from before the Olympics to after the Olympics, I’d say I work harder now than I did. I think my brain just flipped a switch on that tells me, ‘If you actually want to get somewhere, you’ve actually got to do something,'” she explained.
Now, Renwick said she’d like to go from representing Regina to the nation.
“Knowing that you can get somewhere from where you are today — just seeing it makes it feel more accomplishable.”
While the Winter Olympics are almost a decade away for 10-year-old Julia Pangracs, who achieved a personal best at the Saskatchewan Winter Games, she also said she’s inspired to one day compete on the world stage.
“For me, it wouldn’t be about winning. It would just be about that amazing experience in representing my country,” she said with a smile.
As for right now, Pangracs said she has one message for any other figure skater who might be closer to competing in the Olympics: “Never give up and leave it all on the ice — just go for it!”