Placing fourth in front of family and friends at the 2010 BMO Skate Canada national championships was just as good as a podium finish for Cole Vandervelden.
“It was really cool,” the St. Albert figure skater said of performing before the judges in his hometown of London, Ont. “There were a lot of people there but I was actually very relaxed. I had probably less nerves because I knew who was watching me and I knew they really appreciated what I was doing.”
With a score of 96.03 points in the novice category, the Grade 11 Bellerose Composite High School student was only 2.57 points back of the third place finisher. The winner was Jordan Ju of British Columbia at 117.35.
“I was very happy. My goal had been to be top five and it was a very close competition,” said Vandervelden, who moved from London to St. Albert four and a half years ago. “I wanted to skate the best that I could and have a lot of fun doing it.”
The member of the Ice Palace Figure Skating Club at West Edmonton Mall received a mark of 34.87 in his short program and 61.16 in the long program.
“Both of my routines went really well,” said Vandervelden, who was third out of 18 skaters after the short program. “I skated almost as clean as possible, almost perfectly. It was very good.
“In the long program I skated almost perfectly again. There was one jump that I had a slight bobble on but it wasn’t a major error, it was just enough to keep the judges from awarding me those couple of extra points but I was still very happy with how I skated.”
Vandervelden, 16, was oozing with confidence after making his national debut last year in Calgary in pre-novice.
“It was a lot easier to know what was going on this time and what to expect from the competition.”
He placed seventh in a field of 16 pre-novice skaters with 70.06 points — 27.14 (8th place) in the short program and 42.92 (10th place) in the long program.
“I was a little bit nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect. It was real different because I had never competed against all those other competitors from all across the country,” Vandervelden said. “It was a great experience. I learned a lot.”
He also participated in juvenile pairs with Crystel Roy last year and they combined to place sixth overall.
“It was a really good experience. I only did pairs that one year [because Roy moved back to Quebec]. I’ve been doing mostly singles in my skating career so far.”
Vandervelden has been skating up a storm since age seven.
“It’s something that I love to do. It’s very unique because you’re able to express yourself artistically while challenging yourself physically.”
Vandervelden described himself as a well-rounded skater.
“The biggest aspect is overall consistency in my programs and that’s completing everything as well as possible with what I have — the elements, the jumps, the spins — as well as really artistically selling the programs.”
His coach is Jessica Gosse, a St. Albert resident.
“I have a great coaching staff and off-ice staff and training personnel that help me really prepare to be the best that I can be.”
He averages 30 hours a week perfecting his craft with training sessions on and off the ice. Sunday is his day off.
“Sometimes it can be a grind. It just means I have to work my schedule out so I have very few afternoon classes [at Bellerose] during the week.”
The recent nationals signalled his last skate as a novice before moving up to the junior ranks.
“That’s where you can start to qualify to compete internationally,” Vandervelden said. “The biggest difference is the level of skating as well as the jumps. There are a lot more triple jumps.”
His first major event is not until the end of July.
“It’s quite a long break. There’s a few invitational competitions but they don’t really have any bearing on how you place nationally or anything like that.”