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PABSC ice show proves highly successful

Back row, from left: Stacey Woodman, Dwight Kettle, Krystal Collier, Holly Wells, Tanya Fagan, Keira Richards, Elvis Stojko, April Dicks, Nicolle Keeping. Front: Joy Gilliam, Sarah Organ, Denise Anderson, Kelly Strickland. – Submitted photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — The season may be over for the PAB Skating Club (PABSC) this year, but the memories of their annual ice show will remain. For the past 50 years the club has been an integral part of the local sports community. April Dicks, President of PABSC, said excitement leading up to the ice show was obvious from the quick ticket sales. “The majority of them were gone during the first ticket sale, but we still had 60 tickets or so left after the first sale. Once we got away from that sale, we got a lot of messages from people still interested in purchasing, so we went back for the second sale,” said Dicks. “That’s where we sold the majority of the seats. We were left with only a handful of seats after that, before we were sold out completely.” The highlight of the ice show was three-time world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko. “People really seemed to be excited. I think once he landed here – he got in town on March 31, on Friday – and there were some sneak peeks with the membership, and it really seemed to ramp up the interest, once he was here and there were a couple short videos being circulated. I think that really made a huge difference,” said Dicks. Initial contact was made by one of the PABSC coaches to see if he would be available to attend. “There’s a process with Skate Canada; however, with a lot of these athletes who are now retired, a lot of them do these things on their own. We found an email address, a contact for him, and it was actually one of our coaches, Keira Richards, who made the first contact with him by email, and he was thrilled to hear from us. He had been to Newfoundland several times and really enjoys it here, so he was thrilled that we contacted him and asked him to visit.” The global pandemic also factored into the level of enthusiasm for the show’s return. “I think that was a lot of excitement as well. It’s been a few years since we had a show and I think this was something they’d been building for all winter, especially in the last couple of weeks when we started to do regular practices for the ice show. The costumes were being put together. It started to build their excitement for this show because it’s been three years since we’ve had a full house for an ice show because we haven’t been able to do that. They were very excited for sure.” Even though the adrenaline was pumping, the music was playing, and the cheers were reverberating through the arena, Dicks was struck by a sense of calm. “It seemed like all the skaters were in their positions where they were supposed to be. We had great organization where we keep all of our groups because it has to be a smooth, clean process of getting skaters to the ice, removed from the ice, into costume changes. So it was well organized in that area and in the stadium people were so receptive of what was happening on the ice. Whether it was a graduating skater, a group number or Elvis himself, they really seemed to enjoy what they were seeing. It was a calmness, but not a type of calmness where people are bored. It wasn’t that. People were sitting and paying attention and wanting to see what was in front of him. That’s how I would explain the calmness.” Putting together a show of this magnitude required a significant amount of work, but Dicks said that every second was well worth it. “The ice show is a lot of work anyway. It’s the biggest event that we host in any given year, so the work from the volunteers and the coaches, it really takes a full crowd of dedicated people to put this together. We even recruit from our parents as well, not just the executive. It’s months of work, takes a lot of planning. We usually start in December. We’ll have our first meeting, so we have things off the ground before we close for Christmas break. Then in January, we have an idea of our theme. We know how we are going to put groups together and we start with our costumes. So it’s a huge project, but it’s one that everyone really enjoys,” said Dicks. “As we started to move through the season, we realized the magnitude of what it was we were doing, once we secured our guest skater, and we really able to put together an ice show as we did. It was probably one of the most well-organized, smoothest ice shows that I had been part of. There is nothing negative that I can say about that show.” Plenty of familiar faces were among the crowd. “Mayor (Brian) Button was our commentator, and he’s not a stranger to our ice shows either. He’s been our commentator on several occasions, so it was great to see him back again this year. So we started with Mayor Button. He did open and then he passed it on to me. As President I had a few words, and then we had our MHA Andrew Parsons have a few words. That’s how we opened and then we went right into our first number,” said Dicks. “We had 22 numbers and a grand finale. Elvis had two programs. He skated halfway through and then the last number. Then we introduced all the groups back to the ice and Elvis came back out. He did a couple of elements on the ice, and then we took a bow, took a group picture with everybody, and that’s how we closed.” One aspect of the show in particular really proved noticeable to Dicks. “Seeing the skating skill of our skaters, it was quite noticeable how they have advanced throughout the season. I’m not always present at each session, so for me, personally, it was wonderful to see how each skater improved throughout the season. Together as a group on the ice, they really showed their skill and it was wonderful to see. We’re doing something right. They really did shine, each and every skater who was on that ice.” Dicks offered her overwhelming appreciation for all of the volunteers who did such a brilliant job. “They’ve given us the skill and the know-how to continue and keep building, because that’s what’s happened. I’ve been with the club for 13 years and I feel that each year we do better and we do more. This year, we really broke some ground by bringing in someone of Elvis’ stature, of his résumé, and I know it was the first time the skating club has brought someone of his calibre to the rink, so being able to do that, I hope we’ve opened a door to the future. I hope in seasons to come, this is something they can look at and realize it can be done. We can bring this to the community, we can bring it to the skaters and we can give that experience to them,” said Dicks. “You’ve got to have those dedicated volunteers that are going to be there and stay to the end, and that’s what we have. I really feel we have the best group of volunteers and coaches because, without them, we would’ve never had the year that we did. And same goes for our skaters, their families, and the community, everyone who supports our program. Without them we never would’ve had the year that we’ve had. It’s probably been, in my mind, one of the most successful years since I’ve been at the club.”

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