Young skater will be sharing the Olympic ice

Figure skater Chanel Carle-Bowles strikes a pose at practice at Pearkes Arena. She will be a flower girl at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Strict rules and guidelines define local figure skater’s role at Winter Games

At 11 years old, Chanel Carle-Bowles has her Olympic routine nailed.

The reigning pre-juvenile ladies champion for Vancouver Island will collect stuffed animals and flowers thrown onto the ice of the Pacific Coliseum during three days of figure skating competitions, Feb. 14-16.

And the rules of engagment are pretty particular, said the Saanich Figure Skating Club skater and Grade 6 student at Royal Oak middle school.

“No waving to the (television) camera, not even a wink, and don’t even think about talking to the skaters,” she said, stressing the emphasis with raised eyebrows.

Carle-Bowles will be on the ice for the pairs short programs on Sunday (Feb. 14). She’ll return to the Coliseum for the pairs free skate and medal round on Monday then wind up her duties with the men’s short program on Tuesday.

She guesses the bulk of the ice-litter will be stuffed Quatchis and Migas.

“As soon as we’re on the ice, we’re to stick along the boards, away from the skaters who are warming up.”

A huge fan and an Olympic hopeful herself – she dreams of competing as a 15-year-old at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia – being around the best figure skaters in the world won’t unnerve Carle-Bowles.

After the flower retrievers were whittled down to 30 out of 500 applicants, the skaters cut their teeth working the 2009 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, also at the Pacific Coliseum. That’s where Carle-Bowles learned the proper way to pick up a “stuffy” (with bent knees, like a curtsey) while witnessing Canadians Joanie Rochette win women’s silver and Patrick Chan earn the men’s gold.

“She’s pretty serious about figure skating,” said her mom, Heather Bowles, who drives her daughter to practices — Carle-Bowles spends nine to 10 hours on the ice every week.

“It’s nice to see her get this chance, she works very hard at it and is very positive about it.”

And the young athlete doesn’t plan to miss a beat, enjoying her time but making the most of the experience.

“Going to the Olympics as a volunteer is cool, but (some day) I’d like to say I’m at the Olympics as a skater.”

sports@vicnews.com