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'Our whole community came together': Manitoba town’s skating club reaches finals in national video competition

The Minnedosa Skating Club is a finalist in a national Skate Canada video competition. Their video highlighting their town's embrace of skating during the pandemic has wracked up thousands of views. (Source: Brittany Hewlko) The Minnedosa Skating Club is a finalist in a national Skate Canada video competition. Their video highlighting their town's embrace of skating during the pandemic has wracked up thousands of views. (Source: Brittany Hewlko)
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A skating club in a small Manitoba town hopes to get the edge on the competition, after landing in the finals in a national video competition celebrating the sport.

The Minnedosa Skating Club was chosen out of 106 entries from across the country for Skate Canada’s Skate With Us National Contest.

To enter, participants had to submit a video in one of three categories – Skate Canada’s Got Talent, Club and Skating Schools, and Skate With Us.

When Minnedosa Skating Club president Jacquie Gerrard heard about the contest, she felt their club would be a perfect candidate. The town had always been active, she said, but it really embraced skating during the pandemic.

“Everything got shut down with code red through COVID, and that was just an absolutely beautiful winter, if you remember it,” she recalled in a phone interview with CTV News Winnipeg.

“Our whole community came together, just people who live on the lake and other individuals, to clear this whole loop all the way around the lake for skating trails.”

(Source: Brittany Hewlko)

When they couldn’t gather in their homes, the skating trail became a meeting place for people to socialize safely and do the sport they love.

Its popularity has continued in the winters since. Gerrard said they have almost 60 skaters signed up, which is a lot for their club.

To celebrate their small but mighty skating town, the community came together to shoot their video entry under the direction of local videographer and former competitive figure skater Brittany Hewlko.

“(Brittany) was really able to capture the spirit that we were going for. We wanted it to be more than just about our club, but about our town and about the community spirit that we have here,” Gerrard said.

Minnedosa Skating Club’s video cracked the top three in the Club and Skating Schools category. Videos were judged on several criteria, including creativity and understanding of the theme.

(Source: Brittany Hewlko)

Now, it’s up to the public to help Minnedosa win the big prize. From now until Feb. 15, people can log on to the Skate With Us website and cast a vote once a day for their favourite submissions.

Winning the contest has become the talk of the town.

“We have one local Co-op Store that we all shop at for groceries and every time I go there, the person behind me in line says, ‘I'm voting every day for the video,’ and the checkout person is saying, ‘yeah, me too,’” Gerrard said.

The first prize is $5,000, followed by $1,000 for second place and $500 for third.

Gerrard said the cash would go a long way to helping their little club, including hiring a new coach to mentor the community’s burgeoning talent and keeping the sport as accessible as possible.

“Obviously our community rink needs to keep its doors open, so we're always stuck juggling between paying our ice fees and keeping our fees as low as possible.”

(Source: Brittany Hewlko)

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