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Coach cuts a 40-year figure on the ice

Jamie McGrigor eyes a history-making bid as technical specialist in two World Championship events later this month
Jamie McGrigor

Alec Cottrell

News Contributor

Jamie McGrigor took an unconventional route to find his passion in figure skating.

“It’s kind of funny. You know how most careers end with a concussion? Well, mine started with a concussion. I got a bad concussion, a hair-line fracture, so I couldn’t play hockey. My parents put me in figure skating so I could work on my skating,” McGrigor recalls.

Today, more than four decades later, he celebrates 40 years of coaching at both the local and national level.

As a pairs skater in the mid-1970s, McGrigor competed in the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, placing third with partner Kathy Hutchinson in 1974, and second in 1975. The duo also represented Canada in the World Championships.

After retiring as a competitive skater, coaching allowed McGrigor to stay connected with the sport he loves.

“At one point in my life, I directed the national pairs team,” he says.

Today, since scaling back his coaching at the national level, the Ontario native is the director of the Oak Bay Figure Skating Club, based at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

“I’ve been coaching for 40 years. I’ve been coaching in Victoria for 12 years...I’m in my 13th year now. I kind of missed working with the kids. I really like watching the young kids land a jump for the first time or win their first medal.”

While most coaches try to work their way up the coaching chain, McGrigor has gradually worked his way down from national-level coaching to more local, community-oriented skating programs.

In addition to coaching, McGrigor also gives back through the technical side of judging.

He takes his knowledge and abilities to the panel of the World Championships in Boston March 28 to April 3 as a technical specialist for the men’s individual event.

“I identify what the skater does and the level of difficulty... and then the judges give it a mark, based on the execution (of the move),” he explains.

McGrigor has acted in the same role at previous Junior World Championships, however he may well be on the verge of history as he strives to do something he believes no one has done before.

“I think I’m the first person to do two disciplines at a World Championship (event). I’ve (been a technical specialist) in pairs skating and now I’m doing it in singles. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that before.”

Of course, the opportunity brings other benefits as well.

“I’ve never been to Boston so I’m looking forward to it,” he says.