Paul MacIntosh will also help with programming development at Hamilton Skating Club
Paul MacIntosh looks around the big skating oval and likes what he sees.
“There’s a really good program here,” said the 50-year-old Waterloo resident who joined the Hamilton Skating club in September to help with 75-year-old Mountain organization’s strategic development and help teach competitive ice dancing. “The club is big; it’s got lots of members, a great foundation and amazing recreational programs.”
The fact that the skating centre attached to the Dave Andreychuk-Mountain Arena does not have to give up any ice-time for hockey is also a bonus for the club, he noted.
Originally fromTruro, Nova Scotia, MacIntosh was a competitive skater until 1985.
He has a Level 5 certification from the National Coaching Certification Program which is the highest coaching certification in the country.
MacIntosh is currently coaching 11-year-olds Jakub Smal from Ancaster and Bridget LeDonne from the west Mountain, a pair of ice dancers he feels has the potential to compete at the international level some day.
“They’ve got lots of ability,” MacIntosh said. “Certainly the raw talent is very obvious with them.”
They also have a lot of work to do to get to the level of Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who MacIntosh coached for seven years when they were youngsters and teenagers in Kitchener.
He figures six or seven couples he has coached over the years have won medals in international competition.
MacIntosh, who works one day a week in Hamiltonand six days a week in Waterloo, says his main job as a coach is to instill in young people a love of skating and training.
“If you can do that to the kids, they’ll start to pick it up and they’ll go with it,” he said. “That early maturation is critical.”
For competitive skaters it’s also a tremendous commitment that essentially becomes their job.
So what does it take to be a world class figure skater?
“You need to be a tremendous athlete,” MacIntosh said. “There’s a detail and exactness in what they’re being asked to do that demands such precise body control and athleticism.”
These days the club uses video to record skaters’ movements which can be broken down frame-by-frame and those videos are replayed to the skaters on the ice from a unit at one end of the rink.
For a coach, overseeing a pair of skaters adds another level of complexity.
“It’s always a challenge because you’re trying to keep two people motivated,” MacIntosh said. “To have two people be cohesive and move in the same direction is always more of a challenge than one person.”
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia in February and MacIntosh expects the games will lead to increased interest in Hamilton Skating Club activities.
“Generally there’s a spike right after the Olympics in our entry level programming,” he said. “And then our job is to try and retain that membership.”
The Hamilton Skating Club has more than 1,000 members in a variety of programs.
Keiko Marshall and Maysie Poliziani from the Hamilton Skating Club are heading to the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa starting Jan. 9.
Both are skating in the junior women’s competition.
Marshall, a 16-year-oldHillfield-StrathallanCollege student fromBurlington, qualified for her first appearance at the nationals with a personal best fifth place finish at the Skate Canada Challenge in Regina last month.
This will be the second time at the nationals for 18-year-old Poliziani, a Burlington resident and Notre Dame high school student, who finished 14th at the Skate Canada competition.
Also in Regina, Felicia Bonitatibus and Matthew Korkoian from the Hamilton Skating Club finished 13th in the pre-novice dance competition.
This is the duo’s first season skating together.
Alistair Lam finished 11th in the pre-novice men free skate in Regina.
Korkoian and Lam will also be competing at the Ontario Winter Games in Muskoka Feb.27-March 2 with the skating events slated for Orillia.