The Royal Glenora Club Closure and the Final Four

The Royal Glenora Club’s ice facilities faces possible closure due to high operating costs and renovations: Undated photo

The 2013 Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships haven’t even started and drama is already unfolding.

The Royal Glenora Club’s skating facilities in Edmonton, Alberta will cease operations on May 31, 2013. The reason? Allegedly, the arena needs a major overhaul – and not just an ice-resurfacing. The club needs an estimated $2 million renovation.

The news of the pending closure was announced as four RGC skaters prepare to skate at the Nationals in Mississauga, Ontario: novice dance team Abigail Seewald and Jared Fell, and junior men’s competitors Cole VanDerVelden and Bryce Chudak.

Chudak, who sat in 19th place after Skate Canada Challenge, received the phone call of a lifetime to say he’d compete at the Canadians. At the time, Chudak was an alternate in case a skater was injured or withdrew – which happened. Chudak will skate his junior men’s short program on Jan. 16, along with VanDerVelden, and Christopher Mostert of the Ice Palace Skating Club.

Ice Dancers Seewald and Fell, ages 12 and 14, are making their first appearance in novice at the Canadians. While they’re a team, one skater was trained to turn clockwise while the other turns clockwise.

“We do twizzles both ways,” said Seewald. “We do hard ones on our strong side. It’s just the way you learn to skate.”

Both skaters are right-handed. Fell said spins and turning left or right has little do to with which hand you write with and more with comfort.

“It’s like kicking a soccer ball,” said Fell.

Two years ago, Fell relocated from Vegreville, a small town 100 km east of Edmonton, Alberta to train at the Royal Glenora Club.

“Sometimes it’s hard because I miss my family … but it’s not too bad,” who lives with Seewald’s family.

Both leave the house at 5:30 a.m. for the rink. Once the blades are off, Seewald rushes to class, and Fell hits the books as a home-schooled student.

After school, they meet again at the Royal Glenora Club to train their pattern dances and free dance. At Skate Canada Challenge, in one segment, they placed 18th. Their free dance, the final segment, earned them enough points for 11th spot – for a 12th place overall.

“(We were) surprised we got this far,” said Fell.

“Next year, we’d like to stay in novice and move up to top three,” said Seewald.

Seewald, Fell, VanDerVelden, and Chudak.

They might be the final four who represent the Royal Glenora Club at a competition. And at the 2013 Canadians, they should do so proudly.

This is one scenario where there’s no shame being last.

(Originally posted in the Edmonton Journal’s sports blog section on January 13, 2013)