The conclusion of Brooklyn Puska’s solo freeskate program brings a big smile. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Fuller Lake skater puts her skills to the test and passes

Golden moment arrives ahead of schedule for Puska compared to others

Brooklyn Puska is one of the youngest skaters ever from the Fuller Lake Skating Club to pass a gold test.

The Grade 8 Ladysmith Secondary School student from the famous Puska family won’t turn 14 until March 11, but passed her gold skills test in Duncan on Nov. 25. The only other Fuller Lake skaters at a younger age were Riley Buckner, who passed gold skills and interpretive at age 12, and Jazmin Wheeler, who was 12 when she passed her gold dances.

Puska is currently skating in the Star 5 13 and over category.

“She’s progressed really fast,” said Cassandra Taylor, publicist for the club.

Being on the ice is second nature for Puska since she’s skated almost all her life.

“I started skating when I was two,” she noted. “My parents just put me in skating. My mom always wanted to skate when she was younger.”

There was no waiting for Puska to reach a certain age and she went straight into Pre-Can Skate and has progressed steadily every year from there. Now, she looks like a seasoned pro performing skills with ease at Fuller Lake Arena for the photographic part of this article.

Ironically, “I don’t like skills,” laughed Puska.

It’s very complex, explained Taylor, with a lot of different footwork required.

There was never a doubt about Puska’s ability to pass the skills test, however.

She’s more known as a very accomplished dancer and will be setting her sights on attaining her gold dances and gold freeskate in due time.

Fuller Lake head coach Dominic Turgeon loves working with Puska because she’s such a fast learner and takes everything she’s told to heart to become a better skater.

“She’s just a really nice young lady,” said Turgeon.

“She works hard and she’s consistent with her work ethic and being coachable.”

Puska possesses such a passion for the sport, it makes it easy for her to go to the rink so often.

“I like the people here, especially because I have a bunch of my friends here,” she said.

“Dominic, I love our coach. Dominic is really funny.”

Puska attends five ice sessions a week, including four hours on Mondays from 4-8 p.m., Wednesdays from 4:15-6:15 p.m. and twice on Fridays in the early morning and after school in addition to scheduled off-ice dryland training at Fuller Lake Arena plus a Sunday ice slot in Duncan at the Cowichan Community Centre.

That all just sounds exhausting, but even more for the Friday morning skate because young girls don’t usually like to get up early and do much of anything before school. But Puska takes it all in stride and other club skaters from Ladysmith car pool to the rink to make it happen for the 6:15 a.m. time slot.

“I wake up at five, though they pick me up at 5:45,” she noted.

“Most of the time I’m pretty good. I don’t have a choice – I have a ride coming.”

Puska knows there’s lots of work ahead to reach her goals, specifically targeting “my doubles,” she said.

“The first time I landed my double loop, I didn’t actually realize I did it,” Puska chuckled.

Turgeon remembers that moment well and they keep working on her developing skills to go with her smarts.

“It felt so easy,” he indicated. “When the technique is right, it just happens on its own.

“Jumps are a little slow, she’s a bit timid. She doesn’t fully trust herself yet. She just holds back a tiny bit. We’re working through it – just slow and steady.”

This is where Puska finds the dryland sessions really help.

“It’s better to do it on the ground,” she conceded. “You can get a better feel for it on the ice.

“I used to not like falling. Now I fall on my doubles all the time.”

The season has many peaks and valleys. The skaters need to make sure they peak at the right time.

“As a competition’s coming up, I work harder,” said Puska. “Right as it’s coming up, you have to run through your solo and make sure it’s all good.

“If it’s an ice show, it’s not as nerve-wracking. Most ice shows and stuff you don’t have harder jumps.”

Fuller Lake has another ice show coming up in the new year on March 28.

Puska will surely be in fine form for that event along with the other club skaters. She doesn’t want to get too far ahead of herself, but has a definite idea about her future in skating.

“I kind of want to become a coach,” she indicated.

“I want to keep skating. Once I graduate from skating, I want to start with the coaching thing.”

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Brooklyn Puska in a sit spin. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Balancing act on her skates is performed beautifully by Brooklyn Puska. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brooklyn Puska digs in her skate before going into a spin. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brooklyn Puska completes a smooth move on the ice. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Off-ice workouts serve a valuable role for skaters like Brooklyn Puska to perfect their techniques. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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