Ten-year-old figure skater Leila McManus’ first competition win was a big one, taking home gold at this year’s pre-juvenile U11 provincial championship.
“I was really shocked because I’ve never won a competition before and it was such a big competition I didn’t even know what to think,” the Sungod Skating Club skater told the North Delta Reporter.
It was Leila’s second time competing at the Skate Canada BC-Yukon Sectional Championships, placing 10th at last year’s competition.
At this year’s tournament, held Nov. 7-10 in Kelowna, Leila was one of the first to hit the ice, leaving her unsure about the outcome until the last skater’s program was over.
“It was a clean skate, I didn’t fall, but I did do some weird steppy-hop thing … and I completely stepped out of my double loop. But, messing up my double loop, which was supposed to have a combination, actually helped me,” she said.
The slip up forced her to attempt to tack the double loop onto a double flip later in her program, a combination she had never before attempted.
“I had to do the loop on the other end, otherwise I would have been missing a combination.”
Leila began skating with the Sungod Skating Club skater when she was four years old, following one of her best friends into the club’s CanSkate program.
“I made it past CanSkate within a year, so I went to junior academy and I was having a lot of fun, and then once I made it into the higher levels I realized how much skating [meant] to me, and then just wanted to keep doing it,” she said.
And keep doing it she did. Leila now trains year round, doing at least an hour of off-ice work — weight lifting, stair running, agility sequences, circuit training — most every day, on top of one to four hours of skating six days a week. And on her day off, Leila takes ballet and jazz dance lessons.
She credits all that hard work and her coaches at Sungod — program director Kevin Bursey, assistant program director Lani Dickson, senior coaches Jacqueline Chan, Hana Haraga and Chelsea Ivanich, and junior coach Sabrena Boyal —with preparing her for sectionals and ultimately getting her onto the podium.
“When you’re doing your program at a competition you’re really scared, but once you get through the first jump you’re like, ‘Okay, I can do this now.’ And then if you do a really good second jump, once you get into your program, all your jumps feel like you’re flying through the air.”
The win at sectionals marks the end of Leila’s season as it’s the highest level of competition in her age category, but she hopes to one day make it to nationals and the world championships, maybe even the Olympic Games.
Leila said she draws inspiration from Canadian Olympic medalist Kaetlyn Osmond, as well as a number of Russian skaters competing internationally.
“I want to have Kaetlyn Osmond’s attitude but I want to be able to do jumps like all the Russian skaters,” she said. “I want to jump like the Russian skaters because it would just be cool to be able to spin four times around in the air, and I think having a nice attitude’s just a very important thing.”
She’s even met Osmond at couple of times while attending Stars on Ice, which has become something of an annual tradition for her.
“One year my mom bought me special tickets to sit [at ice level] and it was so amazing because they came so close to us when they were doing jumps and it was such an amazing experience to see how deep they push in the ice and how high they actually jump.”
Leila will be performing with the other Sungod skaters in the club’s annual Christmas recital and party on Dec. 20. The show takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. at Sungod Arena (7815 112th St., North Delta), followed by a free family skate from 7 to 8:30.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly named Sungod Skating Club program assistant Sabrena Liou as one of Leila McManus’ coaches rather than junior coach Sabrena Boyal.