North Delta figure skater Jonathan Wu has spent the holidays training for a major competition on Canada’s East Coast.
Wu will fly to Saint John, N.B., and showcase his skills at Skate Canada’s 2019 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, happening Jan. 14 to 20.
“I’m really excited. I have lots of time to practice so I’m not too nervous just yet,” said the 13-year-old athlete. “I really love competing, getting more jumps, improving. It just makes me feel happier.”
His favourite move is the double axel “because it took so long to get but I was so glad in the end.”
In order to qualify for nationals, Wu had to finish within the top 18 at the Skate Canada Challenge in Edmonton, Alta., last month. He placed 13th overall at the competition and hopes to finish within the top 10 in Saint John.
His role models include U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen, known as the Quad King for becoming the first skater in history to land five quadruple jumps in a single program, and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, a two-time Olympic champion.
Wu first stepped onto the ice at age five and learned the basics through Skate Canada’s CanSkate program offered by the Sungod Skating Club. High-profile CanSkate graduates include Olympic and world ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, as well as Olympic medallist and world men’s figure skating champion Patrick Chan.
“We identified Wu as a talented individual and fast-tracked him into our junior academy,” said Sungod Skating Club’s director of programs Kevin Bursey. “He’s a very goal-oriented individual. If you set a challenge for him, that always motivated him to work towards the next level.”
Wu works with a team of coaches and receives about 15 to 20 hours of on-ice training per week, practicing at both Sungod and North Delta recreation centres and at Tilbury Ice. He also maintains a routine of daily off-ice flexibility, cardio and strength training exercises.
“Children that go into a high-end sport at an early age usually have a much better sense of goal-setting, work ethic [and] determination. The life skills they get from the sport are hugely beneficial for later in life,” Bursey said.
Wu’s advice to young people pursuing their goals would be “to work hard for it and always keep a positive mindset.”
He is one of 18 competitors in the Novice Men category for ages 16 and under. “Only about half a dozen of the boys are his age and all the rest are older,” Bursey said.
The young athlete will skate his short program on Monday, Jan. 14, and free program on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Harbour Station arena in Saint John, and his performances will be live streamed on the Skate Canada website.
The championships will feature 250 of the nation’s best skaters in the men, women, pairs and ice dance divisions. Skaters will compete at the novice, junior and senior level.