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Local skater seventh in Whistler invitational

The top young figure skaters from as far away as Saskatchewan took part in the second annual Whistler Skating Challenge this past weekend.

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Hosted by the B.C./Yukon Territories Section of Skate Canada and funded by the provincial 2010 LegaciesNow program, the Whistler event was created to showcase the top young figure skaters and prospects for 2010, while creating another regional event to train for the Western Canadian Championships.

The Challenge was an invitational, which meant only the skaters that met qualification standards were in Whistler. That also meant that the Whistler Skating Club qualified just one athlete, Caleigh Derpak.

CJ, as she’s known to her friends, recently moved up to the Novice girls category, and qualified for the Challenge with a fourth place finish at SummerSkate in August.

CJ didn’t have any goals for the competition, just to land her jumps and keep her short-skate and freeskate routines as clean as possible. She was 10 th and sixth respectively, and finished seventh overall.

The Sea to Sky corridor was also represented by Keegan Murphy of Squamish, who competed alone in the Senior Men’s category. Murphy currently trains in Vancouver, but the Squamish Skating Club came up to Whistler to cheer him on.

The Whistler Skating Club provided volunteers and support through the three days of competitions, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler also contributed resources to ensure that everything went as smoothly as possible.

"I can’t say enough how much work went into this event, and how much the municipality contributed to making it a great weekend. We’ve had nothing but positive comments from the judges and the parents of the athletes, they were just blown away," said Jan Derpak, who helped to organize the event.

"The goal is to keep growing this event, and maybe start attracting some international skaters in the future to give our skaters some more competition, and the consensus I’ve heard is that we have the start of something that’s going to get a lot bigger. It’s quite amazing for a small club and small community to put something like that together."

The next major event is the BC/YT Sectionals in Prince George, although many of the B.C. skaters in the Challenge will take part in the Autumn Leaves contest in Kamloops next week.

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