Oak Bay figure skater Kiara Jankowski thought it was just another skating competition.
Last November, Jankowski and her friend, Alisa Lyesina, both 12, went to Richmond to a juvenile, under 14 sectionals competition. Only four skaters from Vancouver Island would advance and the two local girls nabbed two of those spots. Jankowski only discovered what she had earned after her win.
“I didn’t know it was to qualify for the (B.C.) Winter Games,” Jankowski said. “I was pretty happy when I found out.”
Both Jankowski and Lyesina will represent Vancouver Island at the B.C. Winter Games this weekend in Mission. The event opened yesterday, Feb. 20, and the figure skating competition starts today, concluding on Saturday.
The other two skaters joining them are Olivia Bau from Nanoose Bay and Kennedy Lavertu from Port Alberni.
Jankowski learned how to skate through the Canskate program at Oak Bay recreation centre when she was five and has been hooked on the sport her entire life.
“I love it,” Jankowski said. “I like how you can be creative with performing and stuff, and show the judges what you can do.”
She trains five days a week and takes ballet once a week, which helps her be more graceful and flexible on the ice. She is also a program assistant for Canskate, teaching children ages five and six how to skate.
Lyesina first tried skating when she was around age three on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, where her family used to live.
Like Jankowski, she began figure skating at Oak Bay recreation centre at age five. She currently trains six times a week and enjoys every aspect of figure skating.
“I really like doing the jumps and the spins, it makes me feel happy,” Lyesina said. “When I skate well, it makes me proud of myself because I’m achieving something.”
Both girls are in Grade 7, Lyesina at Lansdowne Middle school and Jankowski at Monterey Middle school. Both are eager to continue skating into the future.
“I want to do the best I can and go as far as I can,” Jankowski said.
“I want to make it to nationals, then worlds, and then maybe the Olympics after that,” Lyesina said.
“The B.C. Winter Games is like a mini-Olympics with all the winter sports.”