Walton's Claire Mitchell achieves quadruple figure skating gold - March 14, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Sixteen-year-old Claire Mitchell from the Walton area is the first member of the Brussels Skating Club in recent memory to achieve quadruple gold status with the CanSkate program.
Mitchell was honoured at the club’s annual showcase last week at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre. Though she has largely retired from competitive skating and wasn’t on the ice that night, Mitchell says she was honoured to be recognized that night and that skating will always be a big part of her life.
Achieving quadruple gold means that Mitchell worked her way up to gold status in the four key categories of figure skating: skills, dance, interpretive and free skate.
Mitchell has been skating since she was five years old, following her sisters, Emily and Sarah, into the world of figure skating. It was around that time that she began playing hockey in Brussels as well. She still plays now, as a member of the Midget BB Huron Heat.
While the Brussels Skating Club has always been Mitchell’s home club, she has also spent some time with clubs in Clinton, Wingham and Cambridge along the way.
She says that while over 10 years of figure skating has been hard work, there have been great accomplishments along the way, not the least of which is her quadruple gold status.
Working with coach Shannon Craig for most of her skating life, Mitchell tried her first dance test when she was eight. She says that while there aren’t many opportunities to compete in Huron County, she began as a “test stream” skater, seeking out competition further afield.
In the early days of her skating career, Mitchell said she was lucky to have Craig as a coach, as she was willing to work with her between three and five nights a week, instead of just one. Craig even travelled with the Mitchells when Claire trained in the summer in St. Marys.
Mitchell achieved both her gold skills and gold interpretive in early 2017 and then her gold dance in November, 2017.
She was the first skater in her family to achieve triple gold, but she didn’t stop there, pursuing her goal of quadruple gold in March, 2018 with her gold free skate at the very end of last season.
The free skate is the most challenging of the four and has strict requirements. Mitchell says that to earn a gold free skate, the skater has to land an axel and at least four other jumps.
In her gold free skate test, she landed an axel, a double toe loop, a double salchow, a double loop, a double flip and double-double combinations.
While it took a lot of time and involved a lot of long hours at the skating rink, Mitchell said she’s extremely proud of what she’s been able to achieve and doesn’t think it would have been possible without a strong, local club to support her along the way.
Mitchell says she’s very grateful for the Brussels Skating Club – a local skating club that has remained strong, even as other rural Ontario clubs of similar size have had to fold for a variety of reasons.
Though she has been working towards these gold certifications since she was seven or eight years old, Mitchell has quite a full plate aside from her figure skating life as well.
She plays hockey with the Huron Heat in the Midget division, in addition to figure skating for
Central Huron Secondary School, where she also plays volleyball and is a member of the track and field and cross-country teams, as well as the Nordic skiing team.
Mitchell has been working towards achieving various certifications associating with being a lifeguard, planning on travelling to Markham and Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden this spring for further education ahead of working at the Brussels pool this summer.
All of these obligations are in addition to Mitchell working away at Central Huron Secondary School on additional credits that will allow her to finish high school next year, earning four years of credits in just three.
When she completes her high school education next year, she hopes to apply to university this winter to pursue studies in veterinary medicine.
Right now, Mitchell says she’s focused on hockey. The Huron Heat team she plays for won the provincial championship just two years ago and they are currently looking to repeat that feat this season.
The team has won all three tournaments it entered this season and they are in the final round of the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League playoffs, hoping to earn a spot in the championship weekend tournament.