EDMONTON – The top spot on the podium at the 2023 StarSkate and Adults Championships had a special reservation for anyone with the surname Schmaltz.
Among brilliant local results from the competition featuring figure skaters from Alberta, Nunavut and Northwest Territories, were Banff sisters Olive and Hazel Schmaltz, who brought it with performance-of-the-year type stuff in Edmonton between March 17-19.
Winning the pre-juvenile U13 title and best overall skater of the year award, Hazel’s inspiring programs ultimately led to her earning a spot on the provincial junior development team.
Executing a stirring program that wooed everyone watching, Olive, 15, won the gold artistic, the highest level of artistic in Canada, and the Merit Award, which is voted on by officials as best performance of the championship in all categories.
“So it was a pretty good day for the Schmaltz sisters,” said Canmore Skating Club coach Robin Forsyth.
At the beginning of the season, Hazel’s goal was to be named to the junior development squad, which gives rising skaters from around the province and territories access to high-level skating coaching, nutritionists, sports psychologists and mental training.
But it wasn’t without a hitch here and there.
An off-ice injury in October kept the skilled teen out of skates for six weeks and knocked everything out of balance, and she fell down to 10th in rankings.
However, in the final few competitions, Hazel dramatically stormed back up and needed a strong championship to take over first spot.
“I had done my short program and I didn’t land my double lutz, which I also have in my long program, which is the pre-juvenile program,” said Hazel, adding the lutz is a difficult jump. “I was a bit nervous about it because I knew I could land it, but I hadn’t the day before so that was a challenge.”
When the time came though, Hazel executed her program and nailed the double lutz, finishing first place in pre-juvenile U13 and taking the overall Leading Edge Series award.
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really doing the stuff I can do now,” said Hazel.
She joins Canmore Skating Club’s Paige Domenico and Maya Gonzalez on the junior development team.
With limited ice time this season, Olive mostly crafted the choreography and conceptualization of her award-winning performance.
It meant a lot to her for being voted as having the strongest and most inspiring program of the weekend, which included the talented teen doing a cartwheel on ice.
“I wore one of my favourite dresses from my old program, and I think it was so great because I love the music and being on the ice,” said Olive.
At the “powerhouse” Skate AB/NT/NWT Figure Skating Championships, coach Forsyth said the team brought it.
Canmore’s Val Laferriere won adult silver artistic and finished third in free skate.
“This was a championship event, the kids know what was on the line,” said Forsyth.
“To have three skaters win championships at the recent StarSkate Championships and three skaters named to the junior development team from our small, local rural club is just fantastic.”