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A tribute to water, told on ice

Splash! is Whistler Skating Club's most ambitious project yet

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By Andrew Mitchell

Every two years the Whistler Skating Club puts on a gala performance, showcasing the students from their programs and the sport of figure skating itself with music, lights, costumes, and a collection of choreographed routines and solo displays.

It’s a massive undertaking for parents and skaters, but the final result is an ice show that is nothing short of impressive. This year’s entry, called Splash!, is the biggest show yet.

Every single one of the Whistler Skating Club’s members is taking part, for a cast of 75 skaters ranging in age from three to 15. There are 25 musical performances packed into the two hours, with several of the skaters appearing in several numbers — hence the need for 140 custom-made costumes.

Altogether it has taken more than 50 volunteers more than 700 hours to build sets, make costumes, and put together the show.

“I think that as we gain more experience putting on this kind of production it will get bigger and flashier and better each year,” said Splash! Co-ordinator Susan Shrimpton. “Every two years we add new things, change things, and add more sophisticated lighting, more elaborate props.

“The kids just love it. They don’t get to skate to music with lyrics in competitions as all their routines are choreographed to instrumental music. When they get to skate with vocals, they put more passion into it and it’s more fun for them. They also don’t get to do gala skating performances after contests, like they do at the end of international competitions, so it’s a real treat.”

The range of performances includes the youngest three year olds with the program who are just learning to skate, and academy level skaters in both the pre-competitive and competitive stages. The top skaters from the club, who are constantly training for contests and tests, will put on six solo performances.

One skater to watch for is Lisa Nakajima, who was recently selected to the B.C. and Yukon Provincial team. Broderick Thompson, who also had an outstanding year with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, was also recently named to the B.C. Coast regional team. Susan Shrimpton is looking to move up to Pre-Novice at a Victoria Day competition later in the month, a stepping stone to novice and junior-level competition. Emily Nakajima, Lisa’s sister, is the youngest soloist at nine years old.

“She’s just a phenomenal young skater, who is really going places,” said Shrimpton.

While most parents will be focusing on local skaters, the Whistler Skating Club has also traditionally brought in some outside talent for their shows. This year the added flair will come from Jeremy Ten, the 2007 Canadian Junior Men’s Champion, who will be performing on Friday night. On Saturday, the guest will be Gary Wong, the 2007 B.C. and Yukon Territories Senior Men’s Champion.

There will be three performances of Splash! this weekend, including a 7 p.m. show on Friday, May 4 and a 2 p.m. matinee and 7 p.m. show on Saturday. Tickets are on sale at Meadow Park and from members of the Whistler Skating Club.

According to Shrimpton, the evening shows have sold out in the past and she recommends people buy their tickets in advance. The evening shows are particularly busy.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for high school students and seniors and $5 for children up to Grade 7.

The major sponsors for the show are Race and Company LLB, McDonald’s, Nesters Market, Whistler Real Estate Company and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. The Four Seasons and Delta Whistler Village Suites have also helped by accommodating the guest skaters.

The biggest thanks, however, goes to the volunteers.

“No kidding, we can’t do this without our volunteers,” said Shrimpton. “They’ve given a lot of time and energy to this, especially a lot of the dads we saw come out this year which was a little bit different for us, and we really appreciate it.”

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