Ladysmith skater headed to nationals

Kedves and Pallard qualified for the nationals at the Skate Canada Challenge in Montreal in early December and finishing 12th.

Sarah Kedves of Ladysmith was a flower retriever for some of the top figure skaters in the country when the Canadian Figure Skating Championships were held in Victoria in January 2011.

She’ll be back at the nationals this January in a much different role, as she and her partner Lucas Pallard of Nanaimo will be representing B.C. and competing against 11 other teams for the Canadian novice pairs title. They’ll have their own flower retrievers when they compete at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Jan. 18-25 in Kingston, Ont.

Kedves, 14, and Pallard, 18, fly to Kingston, this Friday (Jan. 16) and will have a couple of days to get used to the time difference and get used to a different ice surface before skating their short program Tuesday, Jan. 20 and their long program Wednesday, Jan. 21. The event will be live streamed online at www.dailymotion.com/skatecanada.

Kedves and Pallard qualified for the nationals after representing B.C./Yukon at the Skate Canada Challenge in Montreal in early December and finishing 12th. This is the first time either skater has qualified for the highest level of competition in Canada.

Kedves has been skating since she was three and is a product of the Fuller Lake Skating Club, while Pallard has been skating since he was eight. They became a team while they were both skating in Nanaimo, and Kedves’ former coach suggested they try skating pairs together.

This is the third year Kedves and Pallard have been skating together, and this season, they’ve been training full-time with the Racquet Club of Victoria.

Kedves is feeling confident as the national championships get closer.

“I feel like we were ready two weeks ago; we’re kind of just now running programs for cardio,” she said.  “I’m confident we can do lots of clean programs. We’re just going to go and run a program.”

Kedves says she gets nervous in the warm up, but when it’s time to actually compete, she’s not really that nervous.

Kedves is probably most looking forward to the team room, where all the skaters from BC/Yukon gather, and there is food and games, and they broadcast the competition.

Pallard says he doesn’t feel nervous as they head into the competition, and he is looking forward to travelling to Ontario.

“I’ve never been, so that will be interesting, even if it is in the middle of winter,” he said. “The arena is the same one that hosts the Skate Canada International, so we’ll be skating on the same ice surface as people like Joannie Rochette, Patrick Chan, and Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison.”

This season, Pallard and Kedves have been working hard to increase the value of their lifts, throws and spins, such as having Kedves doing a cartwheel out of a lift instead of coming straight down, or making their spins last longer.

“You can do an element and it’s worth something, and you do variations that increase the value,” explained Pallard. “We’ve been working on those a lot this year because the elements are the same. It will be interesting to see more in-depth what can be improved on for next year.”

In the past month since competing at Skate Canada Challenge, they’ve added more difficulty to their lifts and changed their spin to try to up the ante on their elements. Pallard thinks one of their strengths is their twist, as it is quite consistent.

Pallard feels that in the three years they’ve been skating together, he and Kedves have grown in many ways.

“We get along better, our connecting steps between elements have improved, and we communicate more without having to talk — it’s a connection kind of thing. That’s something you can’t really learn; it either comes, or sometimes it never does,” he said.

In Victoria, Pallard and Kedves skate two to three hours a day, six days a week.

The club coach is Deena Beacom, although she works more singles skaters, and their head coach is Matt Willis, who also does their choreography. Pallard and Kedves spend a lot of time on the ice with assistant coach Luke Laurie.

Kedves feels they’ve improved in their elements while skating in Victoria.

“We’ve improved a lot,” she said. “We get along really well. Our throws are really good, and our lifts are pretty good.”

When it comes to competitions, Kedves says she likes the feeling of giving her all on the ice.

“I like getting off the ice and being like ‘that was the best I could have done,’” she said. “That’s a good feeling.”