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Olympic coach gives Truro figure skaters a glimpse of stardom

Lee Barkell coached Team Canada through four Winter Olympics. On Saturday, he shared his expertise with a new generation of Truro skaters


Meagan Dean knows she’ll really need to work if she wants an Olympic gold medal one day.

But her path to the Winter Olympics is now clearer, thanks to Team Canada coach Lee Barkell, who was in Truro Saturday to help Dean and her fellow figure skaters polish up their on-ice techniques.

“I feel amazed, really inspired and thankful that he would teach us,” said Dean, from Valley. “I want to get gold and represent our country.”

She learned the proper technique for spins, jumps and basic balancing and moving while on the ice during one of several hour-long sessions run by Barkell at the Colchester Legion Stadium on April 6.

Barkell said that it was vital for young figure skaters to master the basics and have good coaching from the start.

A healthy lifestyle, avoiding injury with proper warm-up and cool-down exercises and allowing recovery time after competitions is also essential for young athletes with Olympic dreams. Listening to one’s body is an important skill developed by skaters, especially those training for elite competitions.

He said that hosting such local clinics are opportunity for children to experience something new and reinforce what they’ve been taught by their local coaches.

“For a lot of the young kids, they see the stars on their TVs, but a lot of them came from small clubs,” said Barkell.

He coached Team Canada figure skaters at the 2002 Salt Lake City, 2006 Turin, 2010 Vancouver and last year’s Korean Winter Olympics.

One of his former skaters was male figure skater Jeffrey Buttle, the first Canadian man since Elvis Stojko in 1997 to win the World Figure Skating Championships in 2008. Two years earlier, Buttle earned a bronze medal at the Turin Winter Olympics under Barkell’s tutelage.

Barkell said that each Olympic Games is a “unique experience,” with a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work to make events an international success. This includes everything from athlete training to preparing sporting venues.

“They’re there for one purpose: sport,” said Barkell of the athletes. It’s not about politics or race or anything like that. It’s a very unique experience.”

Athletes from the Truro Figure Skating Club, as well as others from elsewhere in Nova Scotia, attended Barkell’s training session.

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