They have the determination, they have the skill but what they have most of is downright silliness.
Kelsea Braaten, 5, and Halle Rutledge, 6, are two young Spruce City skaters that will be competing in their first ever regional competition on the weekend when they head to Quesnel for the CNCR Regional Championships in the elementary ladies A category.
Trying to talk to them about their achievements is like trying to hold a conversation with a child on Christmas Day before the presents are opened. While trying to take their picture they skate right at me coming within a hair’s breadth of my shin laughing all the while.
They are the best of friends and you can’t talk to the one without talking to the other at the same time, each interjecting their thoughts over top of the other. They are not shy and they love to laugh and perform.
Kelsea has been skating since she was three years old and she moves around the rink practicing her solo with great speed.
Her mom, Pauline Gagne likens her to a piece of machinery.
“She goes really fast and picks up on the jumps really quickly but she lacks that grace, she’s in a hurry to do everything. She’s like a little bulldozer. When I dress her extra pretty she’ll try a little harder to be a little more delicate and graceful but she is generally not graceful. She is an aggressive child as far as sports go, she beats me down the ski hill which freaks me out. She just loves to go fast,” says Gagne.
Halle started skating only one year ago. Today she is dressed in a new blue skating dress that grandma bought her for Christmas and she wastes no time in asking her mom to take of her little white sweater so she can show it off.
Halle has watched her brother grow up on skates as a hockey player and when she came to the rink one day to see her friend compete in an in-house competition she fell in love.
“The minute that she saw her friend skate in that competition she knew that that’s what she wanted to do. She picked it up right away. She is very serious and this is all she wants to do now is skate, skate, skate. She would be down here every day if she could,” says Halle’s mom Noelle Rutledge.
Kelsea and Halle are only in kindergarten and while most other children their age are on the ice in snow suits and helmets these girls are performing camel spins, sit spins, spirals, biellman’s and loop jumps.
They don’t always leave the ice in their attempts to jump but they sure can skate. Their coach Jeannie Lesheurs gets numerous laughs a day teaching these two.
“They are little darlings. They are a delight to teach and you never know what they’re going to say. I hear everything. They’re good skaters for their age. If they keep it up you never know where the sport might lead them. They’re so young now they just enjoy it. You can tell they love it. Being at the rink with the big kids, of course because they are so small, the big kids make a big fuss over them because they are little and cute. They’re hard little workers, they are easy to teach. At first it’s hard because they don’t understand the skating lingo and they get confused easily. You’ll say do a waltz jump and they’ll do a toe loop,” Lesheurs says with a laugh. You say do a sit spin and they’ll do a camel spin. It’s a matter of patience, but they are so much fun.”