Each season, one or two foreign skaters come to Burlington, Canada, to spend one year with Nexxice. The coach of the Senior team, Shelley Barnett, accepted to answer to our questions. Interview.
« There are lifelong friendships being formed »
Jura Synchro: What’s the Nexxice experience with foreign skaters?
Shelley Barnett: We have had the good fortune to welcome skaters from different countries for many years. It has always been a very positive experience for both the team and for the skaters who join us from out of the country. The foreign skaters usually come to Canada and to Nexxice with very clear objectives and this helps set the tone for the whole team. The exchange provides the opportunity to get to know skaters from other countries; the realization that there is a shared passion for our discipline and the appreciation that there are as many differences in cultures and approaches as there are similarities. There are lifelong friendships being formed.
JS: What do skaters want generally? Improve their skating skills and they also want to learn a new language?
SB: We have a few enquiries every year and their reasons are often because they want the experience of living in Canada and training with Nexxice.
« The conditions? Skating and synchro skills, athleticism, a passion and dedication to our sport »
JS: What are the steps to achieve?
SB: After initially contacting us, skaters submit an audition video. Having secured a position on the team, they start the process of applying for a Canadian Visa (which can take awhile to procure) and asking permission from their skating federation to represent Canada in international competition. They must also decide whether they are going to work while in Canada or attend school and make the necessary arrangements. We do offer assistance with temporary accommodation and the process of initially settling into life in Canada.
JS: And the conditions to enter in the team?
SB: A solid foundation in skating and synchro skills, athleticism, a passion and dedication for our sport and a desire to improve and to help the team reach its goals.
JS: What are usually the biggest difficulties for a new foreign skater who arrives in your team?
SB: The language barrier can be an issue at first for skaters and the initial adjustment to life in another country, being apart from family and friends. This seems to pass though as the season gets underway.
JS: Could the foreign skaters join your team at any time of the year?
SB: We ask that skaters be prepared to join the team at the beginning of our season in May.
JS: Do you keep in touch with the old foreign skaters after their experiences?
SB: Yes we always look forward to meeting up with them again. Foreign skaters in Nexxice become family. Many skaters stay with the sport in some capacity and we are able to see them at international events or sometimes they just happen to be in the "neighbourhood" and will stop by for a visit, which is always a happy occurrence.
JS: Do you know if some Nexxice skaters did also an exchange with another team?
SB: Yes we have had one or two skaters from the Nexxice organization skate with teams in other countries.
JS: When you host a skater from another country, do you notice some differences?
SB: Yes we really welcome the influx of new ideas and techniques. There are many similarities between teams and skaters and there are many different approaches and styles.
Shelley Barnett’s team, Nexxice Senior, is already built for the next season 2016-2017. The team spent the spring months developing skills, getting to know each other and then begin choreography in the summer.