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Plans are taking shape for Skate Ponoka’s annual carnival

A young skater helps to kick off a Skate Ponoka carnival a few years ago. This years event, described as a way to highlight the skaters and their accomplishments and growing skill levels, runs March 8-9. (File photo)

Members of Skate Ponoka are gearing up to showcase their flourishing skills to the community via their annual carnival, slated to run in early March.

“The carnival is our year-end show,” said Christine Nywening, president of the club and the carnival’s director.

“It highlights everything about our club. It highlights teamwork, and how much they have improved through the year. It’s a great way to wrap up, as it highlights all of the kids, and the coaches, too.”

Events run March 8 and 9, with the solo showcase running March 8 at 7 p.m. at the Ponoka arena, followed by the entire club taking part on March 9.

“This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Celebrate,’ so it’s about major holidays throughout the year.”

Holidays being featured include New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mardi Gras, and Christmas among others.

Some of the younger skaters will be cupids for the Valentine’s Day portion of the performance.

Parts of the performance will also focus on special milestone occasions such as weddings and graduations, complete with costuming to match.

For the wedding sequence, there will be little brides and grooms hitting the ice.

“For St. Patrick’s Day, they will all be little leprechauns. It’s going to be cute,” said Nywening.

“We put a lot of work into the animation, the props, and the costumes, and we also do a special surprise performance at the end that is a crowd-pleaser every year,” she said.

“It’s a great event for everybody. It highlights our club.

“We also do O Canada to start the show, and (this features) every skater that has competed throughout the year. This year, we will have at least 20 skaters in the O Canada portion, which we have never had before. That many kids went to competitions.”

Ultimately, the carnival takes a well-coordinated team to keep things running smoothly, she said.

“We have program assistants who assist the coaches — they will go out on the ice with the little kids, so they will also have (multiple) costume changes because they will have the same ones as the kids,” she explained.

Skate Ponoka participants’ ages range from three up to 18.

The carnival has a lengthy history in the community, stretching back some 70 years.

For Nywening, her passion for figure skating and the club, in general, came about via her daughter.

“I took her to watch her friend in the carnival one year, and she said, ‘Mom — I want to do this!’ Nine years later, Reilly, who is going to be 16, is one of our senior skaters.”

These days, Christine is dedicated to helping guide young skaters to greater heights of skill.

“If you ask anyone, they will say it’s the sparkle and the bling,” she said with a laugh, referring to some of the things she loves about working with the club.

“I love the carnival, I love the costumes, and I do love the sparkle, too — anything that shines. It’s also quite amazing to see the kids progress, and to see how much they improve throughout the year,” she said.

“They grow so much. Next thing you know, they are competing, they are doing their double axels — it’s just amazing to see.

“I also think that skating offers them another world to escape to — it’s that extra-curricular environment that is different from everywhere else,” she said.

“They can go out there and give it their all. They can have fun.”

Learning the ins and outs of figure skating also provides a strong foundation for kids who have the goal of playing hockey, she said.

“With our little ones, it’s mostly boys,” she said.

There is a solid social element to the club, too.

“We work together on fundraisers and bottle drives. And for the carnival, we also all work together on this, too.”

Carnival tickets will be available at the door.

For more about Skate Ponoka, visit

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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