Three more Sherwood skaters off to nationals

They are sending three skaters to the show — four if you count their show-stopping exchange student.

Aislinn Ganci, right, with SPSC head coach Terri Gallant. Photo Supplied

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The Sherwood Park Skating Club has managed to qualify three young ladies through to the upcoming national figure skating championships to join 26-year-old Alaska native Keegan Messing, who uses the Park club as his official Canadian base as he has had a recent rapid rise in senior men’s skating with a win at the Nebelhorn Trophy figure skating competition in Germany and a second-place showing at the Skate Canada International competition in Quebec earning him a bye through to nationals.
“It’s a little bit better than usual,” said SPSC head coach Terri Gallant. “We usually have one or two, and if you count Keegan, we have four.”
The three female Park skaters had to survive the massive cattle call that is the Skate Canada Challenge competition, an event that recently took place in Edmonton where a large field tries to secure one of 18 spots in the national finals.
The best performance was put in by senior women’s skater Aislinn Ganci, who finished ninth in a field of 31 entries.
“It is her second year in senior,” Gallant said. “Last year she had a fabulous short at nationals, placing eighth, and then the pressure got to her and she didn’t do as well in the long and dropped down to 14th. She is looking to redeem herself and have two good skates at nationals this year and to definitely be in the top 10. She has been progressing really nicely all fall. At each competition she just keeps getting better and better. She had two clean skates at the Challenge, so we are going to up the difficulty for nationals and put in a couple more triple jumps and go from there. Everything is going in the right direction for her.”
Also making the grade, although just at the cusp, were Alexandra Sarmiento-Diaz (18th in a Novice women’s field of 54) and Haley Gillett (18th out of 43 entries at the Junior women’s level).

Alexandra Sarmiento-Diaz. Photo Supplied

“It is the first time going to nationals for both of them, so they are very excited just to get on to the national stage and to be around that whole calibre of skating,” Gallant said. “Alexandra did not have a very good short, but she had a good long and moved up from 37th to 18th to get herself to nationals as just the top 18 get to go. She is looking to have two good skates at nationals. Haley was pretty good in the short and the long, but we are hoping to up her difficulty at nationals, as well. For them the first time going, it is pretty exciting.”
Gallant said getting to the Skate Canada National Championships, which take place in Saint John New Brunswick from Jan. 13 to 20, is a pretty important step in a young skater’s career.
“It is super valuable. In terms of opening their eyes to what is out there and for their confidence, knowing they are nationally-ranked now,” she said. “To know you are in the top 18 in the country, that is a huge confidence booster. It is an invaluable part of training, once they get that confidence and know where they fit in and that they are at an elite level in the country, that is very, very helpful for them.”
Ganci, Sarmiento-Diaz and Gillett will warm up for nationals by performing at the Strathcona County New Year’s Eve ice show at the Sherwood Park Arena on Dec. 31 at 7 p.m.