Napanee District Skating Club’s Wesley Lockwood and partner Marlow Slatter performed for the first time in nearly a year this weekend, taking part in the Skate Ontario December Classic in Stratford.
The competition was like any other the pre-novice ice dance pair had ever taken part in, as the arena was virtually empty. Not even a judge was on site.
Instead the 16-year-old Lockwood and 15-year-old Slatter carried out their routine in front of a videographer. The video of their performance will be reviewed by a judge from home and notes and critiques will be emailed to them on Thursday.
In a normal year, the pair would have been one of many who competed in front of a live panel of judges. This year due to COVID-19, the Classic was closed to skaters from public health units that are currently zoned as a red community and extra precautions were put in place, which included having the routines recorded and judged off site. That meant Lockwood and Slater were the only participants in their category.
“It was a good opportunity to get a baseline to see where we’re at and see how far we’ve grown,” said Lockwood.
“It was our first competition in 10 months,” added Slatter. “It felt good to just get out and compete again. It was weird skating with no judges and there was one person in the audience. It was very quiet. It was weird having to stay away from everyone else and warming up with a mask.”
The experience was unlike any they’ve had in their two and half years competing as partners, but one that could be a huge benefit as they make the most of the modified season.
Once they receive feedback from Saturday’s performance, they’ll take those notes and apply it to their next performance, which is scheduled to take place in Milton, Feb. 10-12. A strong showing there will qualify them for to compete against the top skaters across Ontario at an event that will be held in late March.
Though neither skater is from Napanee, Lockwood is from Kingston while Slatter is from Belleville, they are proud to represent the Napanee and District Skating Club. They’re coached by Colleen Carlisle Lockwood and Jill Woodall, as well as Kelly Johnson from Mariposa School of Skating. Both skaters credited their coaches for their dedication through a very unique competitive season.
“I skate here in Napanee because they’ve always treated me wonderfully and I love supporting Napanee and they’ve always given me support. They’re just all around the best club,” said Lockwood.