Red Deer Skating Club member Avery Knecht spins during practice at the Collicutt Centre Wednesday. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Red Deer Skating Club celebrating 60 years

A celebration is being held at the Golden Circle on Sunday

The Red Deer Skating Club has been teaching people to dance on ice for six decades.

The club will celebrate its 60th anniversary at the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Patti Somer, club administrator and skating coach, has been with the group for about 20 years.

“Whenever we go to the rink, whether there’s hockey, ringette or figure skating on the ice, we can say hello to so many people there, because the faces are familiar and they used our program as a starting place … for their love of skating,” said Somer.

As a coach, watching skaters grow is “super exciting and inspirational,” said Somer.

“I feel like I have the best job in the world. When you watch the little ones who are afraid, and they can’t figure out their balance or stand up, and then you watch them progress and how much they love being on ice … it makes us proud of our sport, our club and our program.”

The club, which is under the umbrella of Skate Canada and has between 1,400 and 1,500 members, has gone through many changes over 60 years.

“Skating has evolved and changed over the years. The thing that’s always been there is the passion and the love of sport.

“It’s interesting to see the different things that each decade brings,” she said. “For a decade or so, synchronized skating … was really big in our city. We had teams going to nationals.”

Donna Randal, a coach for more than 35 years, said technology has come a long way since the beginning of the Red Deer Skating Club.

“Having an iPad, or even a phone, and being able to video the kids so they can see what they’re doing wrong, instead of just telling them, then they can feel it and see it, so they can fix it,” said Randal.

“Even the skate itself has changed – you have a stronger boot.”

Athletes are better than ever, she said.

“There are more jumps, bigger jumps than you would’ve seen in the past. Back in the day, a triple Lutz was the big thing, and now you have quads,” Randal said, adding skaters have more opportunity to practise because there are more rinks in the city.

Somer said she has been researching the club’s history in preparation for the 60th anniversary celebration.

“Going through the archives at the museum and looking at the development of the club from the grassroots is really incredible. It’s been an incredible journey for the club,” she said.

The event, which Somer describes as a reunion, will “bring people from all six decades together.”

There will be an open mic where people can share their stories, poster boards with photos spanning the club’s history, and more.

“We’ll try to display and show the different dresses and the different styles, and how it changed over the decades.

“It’ll be really great to visit with the people we haven’t seen for a long time and to reconnect,” she said.

For more information on the club, visit

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Red Deer Skating Club member Atlee Graham practises at the Collicutt Centre. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

The Red Deer Skating Club has between 1,400 to 1,500 members. Some members are as young as three years old. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

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