To The Worlds – An Interview with Wendy Ord

To The Worlds” is getting plenty of attention.

From television, radio, online news, blog posts, four-time world figure skating champion Kurt Browning …

Yes. That Kurt Browning.

Wendy Ord, the film maker and 59-year-old adult skater said, “(Kurt) He actually heard about this documentary about these crazy ladies going to Germany.”

Ord plays two roles in the documentary: film maker and one of the six adult skaters – ages 46 to 77 – who travel from Kelowna, BC to Oberstdorf, Germany to compete at the 2018 ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition.

“Kurt … he’s an innovator,” said Ord in a telephone interview. “He’s an idol and … he arranged for a Skype call with the ladies,” and Ord said he’s even more of her idol now.

During the Skype call, “(Kurt) said, ‘Now is the time not to be nervous, and not to be scared … It’s not the punishment, it’s the reward. Go and have fun. ‘ “

Browning’s advice came two days before the women set out for Germany.

Ord’s father had four daughters, and you’d think one of them would pick up the blade. Just not figure skates.

“We just thought ‘No, no way. We’re not skating with you. That’s just too weird.’ “

Ord grew up in the small Ontario town of  Pointe Au-Baril, which is 45-minutes  north of Prairie Sound. She grew up on CBC – the only channel available.

“We watched figure skating whenever it was on TV,” said Ord. “My dad made us watch it (figure skating). But I wasn’t really connected to figure skating until the last 10, 11 years sort of thing.”

In Ord’s late-40s, she wanted to get active – and to learn to be graceful at the same time.

“I work in a man’s work,” said Ord, who was the first female assistant director in Canada. “You’ve got to be tough. You’re yelling directions at everybody … you’re wearing jeans. I don’t think I owned a dress.”

Ord wanted to learn to be, not only graceful, but ” … more pretty. More girly. Be a little girl, I guess.”

When Ord took to the ice, she began with the little kids. After all, she was starting from scratch. However, the coach had a different idea.

“They said, ‘we’re going to put you with the synchro team,’ ” said Ord. “And I couldn’t do a crossover to save my life.”

While Ord admires Browning, it’s not because she grew up watching him. “I never really followed skating except that my dad was a figure skater when he was young. It’s one of the reason I started skating.” 

Ord was instructed to follow the team around and copy their choreography. She was put between the two strongest skaters. While she learned the basic skills, Ord was made the team’s alternate. She learned the programs, watched the videos – anything she could to make herself valuable.

Ord found success when she left the team, and she joined the Kelowna-area adult skaters. “There was about four of us and a couple teenagers.”

When the Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships were in Kamloops, BC – about a two-hour drive, her coach said, “as a lark, you should compete.”

Ord, and fellow skater Donna Bergvinson, came away with medals, much to the surprise of their coach. “I think our coach was more shocked than we were that we won medals.”

However, the euphoria of winning can be temporary. Some adult skaters are still skating to please others.

“It’s interesting because many of the ladies are still skating for their parents,” said Ord, “At … 59 years old and you still want your parents accolades.”

After those Canadians, Ord called her parents to say she won a bronze medal.

“I called my dad, and I said ‘Dad! Dad! I won a bronze medal. And my mother said, ‘Why isn’t it gold,’ and my dad said, ‘Because gold is first place, dear.’ “

Ord said the movie taught her valuable off-ice lessons about aging, saying “the older the women are, the cooler they are.” Ord believes one of the women in the documentary, 77-year-old Henrietta Penney, “is an example to live by.”

“(Henrietta’s) just out there having fun,” said Ord. ” … and wearing what she wants to wear. This movie made me less fearful of getting old. Because (Henrietta) said ‘the older you get, the less you care about what other people think, and life becomes … easier when you stop caring about that.’ “

“I thought, wow, there’s a cool lesson for me.”
Photos: Bountiful Films
Thursday, January 17, 2019:
An interview with Donna Bergvinson, 61
Adult figure skater, preschool teacher for the Boys and Girls club, and the City of Kelowna. 

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