Ponoka’s own Marilyn Chidlow has been inducted in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made Monday, Feb. 22 at the hall of fame building in Red Deer where Chidlow, along with Brian, Tom and Bud (Vernon) Butterfield were inducted.
Chidlow was inducted for her dedication to the sport of figure skating in Canada. Indeed, CanSkate, the watchdog for standards of training and development for figure skaters across the country grew in part thanks to her influence.
In an interview, Chidlow said she received the call early in February that she was to be inducted and it came as a complete surprise. She developed a love of the sport as a young girl in Winnipeg, Man. “I can remember my first carnival. I was a Dalmatian dog.”
She found her way to Edmonton and then Red Deer and eventually to Ponoka.
“I could remember really striving for the tests I took because then we could skate indoors,” said Chidlow of her experience with skating in Edmonton.
Life continued on for Chidlow who moved with Glen to Ponoka in 1973 to start a chiropractic service. Helping the Ponoka Skate Club was something she enjoyed. “We coached the little babies and the mom and tot program,” she recalled.
This was the beginning stage of Chidlow’s deep involvement as a volunteer instructor with the training program for coaches and skaters. Chidlow was first asked to join the Ponoka club’s board and eventually the provincial board and to the top with Skate Canada.
In 1992 she was vice-president of Skate Canada, and eventually president from 2000 to 2006 and past-president from 2007 to 2013.
With a group of dedicated planners, she helped develop the CanSkate program that is the main standard of training and development. Her focus has always been to benefit the skaters.
Her dedication to the sport cannot be questioned.
During the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics Chidlow, found herself in the middle of a media frenzy. The infamous decision that saw Canadian skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier awarded silver medals despite a strong performance put judges and their decisions into question.
Being president of Skate Canada, as a volunteer, put Chidlow in the limelight and she said it was a tumultuous time for skating. The Canadian press bit into the decision and how it was handled. She was challenged as someone who let the Canadian team down in national newspapers and news shows. “It was a really low moment for us in sports.”
Skaters she had helped nurture in the training program were hurt by that judging scandal. Seeing them at the podium receiving the silver medals is something that haunts Chidlow to this day.
On a positive note, Chidlow used the lessons in Salt Lake City as a tool to help drive change in the judging system. “It provided us with a new judging system that can be measured,” she said.
Because of that issue she stayed on as president until 2006 and feels there is some vindication for the skaters who were eventually awarded gold medals.
What kept her steady throughout the whole process, from training young coaches and tot skaters to being under the media spotlight was the athletes. “We just wanted to make it better for future athletes,” she said.
Chidlow’s efforts in Salt Lake City earned her a bronze participation medal.
Looking back at the the ups and downs and Chidlow says she is proud of the work Skate Canada did and for the advances made in training and in judging at a professional level.