Mallory McNalley, left, and Bailey Rush will be representing Zone 4 and Skate Ponoka at the Alberta Winter Games next month in Fort McMurray. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Pair of Ponoka skaters heading to AWG

Excitement abounds with two figure skaters heading to big competition

For two local skaters, the only difference is likely the level of excitement running through their veins.

Skate Ponoka’s Bailey Rush and Mallory McNalley will both be representing Zone 4 at the Alberta Winter Games (AWG) in Fort McMurray, running Feb. 16 to 19. While both figure skaters are looking forward to the event, there is a slight contrast in how each is approaching the looming competition.

For 13-year-old McNalley, this will be her first time at such a large competitive event and it’s obvious the young skater is jazzed up about going.

“I’m very excited, but also extremely nervous. However, it’s really nice to know that I’ll be going with someone I know,” she said, adding there will also be several friends from other areas at the competition as well.

“That will make it easier and more fun. I’m definitely excited about everything involved and to be there with friends. It’s kind of like a mini-Olympics and the experience is going to be great.”

McNalley, who will compete in the 13 and under category consisting of a two minute freeskate, isn’t too concerned with any results stating, “I just want to land my double.”

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Rush is heading to her second straight AWG and is focusing on the seriousness of the competition, though is still enthusiastic about going.

“I’m getting ready pretty much the same as for any competition. I’m just doing as much preparation as possible,” she said.

Two years ago in Medicine Hat, Rush placed a very respectable seventh out of 16 in the senior bronze women’s freeskate.

“The last time was a great experience, but this time around things are different. There are simply high overall expectations to go along with the more difficult spins and choreography,” added Rush.

This time, she will compete in the novice women’s category — a step toward the big time as skaters perform a 2.5 minute short program Feb. 17 followed the next day by a three-minute freeskate.

“All I’m hoping for is to be happy with my skate and to enjoy the moment. That’s really when I perform my best — when I stay positive going onto the ice and remaining positive,” she said.

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