Calgary’s Kaiya Ruiter, 16, competes in the World Junior Figure Skating Championships

In November 2021, Calgary figure skater Kaiya Ruiter suffered a horrific injury.

Her skates practically got stuck together mid-jump, she said, and she ended up falling on top of her skate blade.

He tore through his calf muscles. But more than pain, Ruiter, 16, said she felt disappointment.

“Especially after the pandemic, when I just wanted to be on the ice, and then I had to get off the ice again, it was so frustrating,” she said in an interview with Townstrip.

“It’s been a fight, but I’m so proud of where I’m at now…. I’m so happy to be back on the ice.”

Since her return, she has won a silver medal in the senior women’s event at the National Skating Championships in January and a silver medal at her first senior international in Austria in November.

Now, she is the only Canadian competitor skating in the women’s category at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, which will take place from February 27 to March 5 at WinSport. She will also be the only Albertan competing.

SEE | Kaiya Ruiter performs at the national figure skating championships in January:

Kaiya Ruiter, 16, won silver at the national figure skating championships

Kaiya Ruiter performs during the women’s free program at the Canadian figure skating championships on January 14, 2023 in Oshawa, Ont.

Scott Davis, Ruiter’s coach, said she is the greatest athlete he has worked with in his 20 years of coaching. In her early teens, she had already mastered all of her triple jumps, he said, and she’s just progressed.

“I have never experienced anyone with such enthusiasm and passion for the sport and also self-motivation, which is amazing,” he said.

“I’m very happy that she has another opportunity to compete on the world stage and to do it here in Calgary as well.”

Although Ruiter will be striving to put up a good score, she said she is focused on enjoying the moment and improving her own personal best.

She said she is proud to represent Canada.

“It is the greatest honor you could ever imagine,” said Ruiter.

“I mean, wearing the maple leaf and being on that ice, representing my family and my city and my country, my province, everything. There’s no bigger prize.”

‘the sky is the limit’

As the event draws to a close, Ruiter will continue to prepare, including conditioning on and off the ice.

The event will feature the world’s best junior skaters between the ages of 13 and 19 competing in the men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance categories. (Men in pairs and ice dance can be under 21.)

LISTEN: Kaiya Ruiter describes what it will be like to compete in the junior competition:

Townstrip7:13Kaiya Ruiter

16-year-old Calgary figure skater Kaiya Ruiter talks about her preparations for next week’s World Junior Skating Championships in our city.

The number of spots in each category, one to three, is determined by how well a country does in the competition the previous year, Davis said.

“Probably in the back of her mind she wants to do well so Canada can earn a few more spots for next year,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s more about her just going out and enjoying … all the work and dedication she’s put in over the last few years.”

After her injury, mentally, Ruiter said she was ready to get back on the ice right away. But it took some time to go through physiotherapy and rehabilitation. She also lost out on the competition in several major tournaments.

But she is certainly more determined to take advantage of whatever opportunities come her way, including the silver medal she won in the last few months.

A woman in a blue suit skates across the ice.
Kaiya Ruiter said she loves to perform, and will be looking to improve on her personal best at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. (Danielle Earl/Skate Canada)

“It gave me a lot of motivation to just keep working and keep building my program to hopefully get another personal best at these championships,” she said.

“I love playing and I love the freedom, just being out there by myself and the warm feeling of being out there and putting on a show.”

Davis said Ruiter’s friends and family will be welcome to cheer on her from the stands as she competes in front of a home crowd next week.

As for Ruiter’s future, he said it is possible.

“With her work ethic and dedication and talent, the sky is the limit.”

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