More Ice Time for Ottawa Figure Skaters

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Dear City of Ottawa,

I am addressing you on behalf of all figure skaters in Ottawa. The ice time that is provided to figure skaters is insufficient. Overcrowding at the few available sessions, combined with the athletic nature of figure skating, leads to real safety risks. During the summer months there is only one weekly session, and during peak season there are only 3 sessions, one of which is the Thursday session at Belltown Dome.

Our concerns are that there is an insufficient amount of ice time available to figure skaters and that the City does not understand figure skating requirements. The primary clientele of these sessions can be split into three groups: university/college students balancing skating sessions with school work, older adults starting or returning to figure skating, and younger skaters picking up extra practice sessions. They need sessions that can fit into their schedules, which usually means outside of the typical workday.

In order to safely practice figure skating, there needs to be a reasonable maximum number of skaters, and that aspect needs to be addressed. On August 22, 2018 there were 32 figure skaters at the Wednesday figure skating session at Tom Brown Arena, which was unusual but needs mentioning. The current city-prescribed limit of 40 skaters is completely unreasonable. According to Skate Canada, the recommended maximum number of figure skaters on the ice at any given time is 25. Due to the limited number of skating sessions available, a large number of skaters show up to the one and only weekly session provided, and this is a safety hazard. While having 32 skaters at a regular public session may be totally fine, it is unsafe to have this number of skaters at a figure skating session. During public sessions everyone goes around the rink in the same direction, while during figure skating sessions, everyone is skating in different directions, significantly increasing the risk of collision and injury.

Rink size is a key factor for figure skaters.  Last year, one of the available rinks was Belltown Dome; however, it is too small of a rink to accommodate a proper figure skating session, and this may cause the same safety hazards as stated above.  Your attendance numbers will support the fact that most of the time, this session was poorly attended. Figure skaters need a full-size arena in order to practice the key aspects of the sport: jumps, programs and dance patterns.

We believe that there is enough demand for figure skating sessions and given that we pay a significantly higher fee of $6.50 per session, we should be granted more ice time.

Furthermore, we believe that the City of Ottawa ice time is distributed very heavily in the favor of hockey. During the week of Sept 3-9, there are 29 hockey sessions and only 2 figure skating sessions. This is unfair, since both hockey and figure skating are wonderful and challenging sports. Both the hockey player and the figure skater work equally as hard to achieve perfection in their respective sports. Given Canada's incredible figure skating accomplishments in the 2018 Winter Olympics, we in Canada should take pride in our excellence and do a better job of promoting this sport.

WE ASK THE FOLLOWING:

1. An increase in the amount of figure skating sessions from 2-3 to 4 per week during fall/winter/spring, and from 1 to 3 per week during the summer.
2. At least one session per week that is longer than 50 minutes.
3. No sessions at Belltown Dome, as it is too small to safely accommodate all skaters who attend that session.
4. A limit of 25 skaters per figure skating session.



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